How to simplify electric vehicle charging payments to boost convenience

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Electric vehicle (EV) drivers often face challenges when paying for charging, which can make using EVs less convenient and reliable.

Recognizing this barrier, a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in collaboration with other major research labs, offers practical solutions to improve the payment process at EV charging stations.

Kristi Moriarty, a senior researcher and lead of the ChargeX Consortium at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, emphasizes the importance of easy payment options in the expansion of public EV charging networks.

“Ease of payment is crucial for building consumer trust and ensuring a seamless charging experience,” she stated.

The report, supported by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation and involving experts from Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, outlines current payment issues and suggests key improvements that could accelerate EV adoption and enhance the charging experience for drivers.

Currently, EV drivers can choose from various payment methods at charging stations, including credit card readers, near-field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), smartphone apps, and even simple phone calls or texts.

However, this variety can lead to confusion and operational problems, particularly when systems fail to accept payments due to network issues, hardware limitations, or poor user interface design.

To tackle these problems, the report recommends several strategic actions:

  1. Conducting Connectivity Surveys: Before installing new charging stations, conduct surveys to ensure good cellular network connectivity, which is essential for processing payments smoothly.
  2. Regular Maintenance Checks: Include checks of network components during routine maintenance to prevent failures that could disrupt payment processes.
  3. Testing Software: Thoroughly test all point-of-sale software and systems before they go live to avoid glitches that can frustrate users.
  4. Installing Durable Hardware: Use robust and weather-resistant payment hardware to reduce maintenance issues and ensure reliability regardless of environmental conditions.
  5. Simplifying User Interfaces: Design user interfaces that are easy to navigate to minimize customer confusion and enhance the overall user experience.

Kristi Moriarty hopes these recommendations will preemptively solve many of the current payment issues at EV charging stations.

“By anticipating and addressing these challenges, planners can avoid common payment issues and make EV charging more user-friendly,” she explained.

The adoption of these recommendations could significantly improve the reliability of EV charging networks, making electric vehicles a more attractive option for consumers and helping to increase their widespread use.