Smart Charging - A breakthrough for electromobility

CarMedialab, an INIT subsidiary, has been developing systems for telematics, diagnostics and intelligent vehicle charging for almost 20 years. In 2008, CarMedialab pioneered smart charging by establishing communications between vehicles and charging units via power cables together with Daimler AG. We sat down with CarMedialab’s Reginald Viray to discuss smart charging and how to optimize the charging experience. Read more below or click to listen to the Podcast.

Today, the e-vehicle charging experience is less than ideal. Charging terminals are mostly limited by technical or business constraints, which complicates usage and prevents the widespread use of e-mobility. According to the latest nationwide charging station check, charging on the road is still "an imposition" for the majority of electric car drivers. Since electric charging is more complicated than refueling, those who aim to migrate to electric vehicles must consider how to create a pleasant charging experience. This is where smart charging comes in.

What is smart charging?

Smart charging is about intelligently organizing and optimizing the charging process for drivers, vehicles, and the energy grid. It starts with easy access to the charging point and includes the payment procedure, the specification of when the charging process should be completed, protective charging of the battery, and the avoidance of overload situations in the power grid.

Smart charging can overcome current limitations brought on by charging terminals and thus solve a core challenge: Ensuring that the driver of an electric vehicle can charge and pay quickly and easily at any available charging station. If the driver has to charge more often than they have to refuel, then it must be just as convenient, supported by a tightly meshed network of charging stations.

The energy supply problem, solved

Car manufacturers, energy producers and other players have announced their intention to invest massively in the charging infrastructure. Since the number of electric vehicles is increasing, the entire energy supply system has to increase accordingly.

Imagine if you had an electric car and wanted to charge it quickly at home with 22kW at an AC wall box. New Volkswagen or Renault models would support this, and you would have a full battery in 2-3 hours. However, they need the permission of the distribution network operator to run it, which would require a check on how the grid in the street is designed and whether there are still sufficient reserves. If your neighbor then follows with the same setup, regulations would be needed.

Smart charging helps in this situation by controlling and distributing electrical loads. If both vehicles are connected, the power will be throttled. If only one is charging, it will receive full power.

CarMedialab supplies software, hardware, and services to providers of charging stations and wall boxes, as well as to their operators. This means they can manage the balance of interests between vehicle and charging infrastructures with smart charging, allowing for communication from the vehicle via the charging station to central systems for load and charging management - and back.

Electric vehicle fleet charging

For public transport companies, it is crucial that charging processes are organized and optimized in accordance with their operational requirements. A typical scenario is when electric buses are being charged overnight at the depot and then depart the next morning. Many buses are arriving at about the same time and are leaving at about the same time. If all the charging processes were started at once and uncontrolled, one can imagine that it would create a very high peak load on the power grid.

Such power peaks are very expensive and must be avoided. So, loads have to be shifted in such a way that they are as low as possible and have a constant load level over time. On the other hand, the buses need to be fully charged and available the next day. The load and charge management system, MOBILEcharge, takes care of this by intelligently organizing the charging process. Plus, it is already reaping crucial benefits for several small fleets.

Public transport companies can help reduce emissions caused by mobility in two ways:

1.    Through good, reliable service that encourages people to use transit instead of a car.

2.    By switching from the internal combustion engine to zero-emission vehicles.

Both options will help the environment at a time when it is crucial to combat global climate change. CarMedialab and INIT are partnering to provide solutions that pave the way for these causes. The future of electric vehicle management in public transit looks bright.

  • Click here to learn more about smart charging and e-vehicle requirements. 
  • Watch our vido on smart charging an electric fleet. 
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