6 Improved user solutions
No other country has more electric vehicles per citizen than Norway, and the authorities have set ambitious goals for future development. A sufficiently comprehensive network of publicly accessible rapid chargers is a premise for reaching these goals. Additionally, rapid charging should be no more complicated than filling a conventional vehicle tank. Complicated charging solutions can lead to unnecessary queues, as drivers spend excessive time when charging. This can represent a barrier in the transition from diesel and petrol vehicles to electric vehicles.
User-friendliness when charging is also being discussed in Europe in connection with the ongoing revision of the AFI Directive, ref. Box 2.1. The EU Commission has proposed to introduce standard requirements for payment solutions, price information, user information, data collection and accessibility of data. There is also proposals for requirements regarding which particular standards should apply to the infrastructure and requirements regarding universal design.
6.1 Payment solutions
Several operators are presently developing and offering paid charging in Norway. However, payment solutions differ between operators. Most charging operators have their own solutions based on text message-based payments, mobile applications/apps, QR codes with a link to an app/website, RFID tags associated with the user in a charging service/app, or direct connection with the electric vehicle. Very few charging stations offer card payment. According to the Institute of Transport Economics users of EVs must deal with up to 20 different operators, 20-30 apps and 13 payment systems to access all charging infrastructure in Norway. The report characterises the system as dysfunctional8.
The Knowledge Base from the Public Roads Administration and Norwegian Environment Agency provides a thorough overview of the characteristics of the various solutions, and we refer to this for a more detailed review.
In a free market, one could assume that the charging operators’ payment solutions would eventually be whittled down to the most effective solution, one that also consumers prefer. However, this is not guaranteed and can take a long time. Additionally, deviating regional payment solutions can arise around larger population centres, so that a nationwide industry standard is not established. This is also not ideal for consumers, and many are already highlighting that the same company does not necessarily have standardised payment solutions across country borders. This presents a challenge to EV owners visiting Norway and vice versa.
Image: Norwegian Ministry of Transport
According to the EV Association, 90 percent of respondents in the Association’s annual survey in 2022 think that charging is complex, with many apps and operators. This is a significantly higher number than last year when 75 percent gave the same answer. 80 percent of respondents wished to be able to pay with a debit card directly at the charging station (tap-and-pay). This percentage has increased from 71 percent in 2021.
Differing and in some cases unique payment solutions between charging operators can lead to frustration and queues at charging stations.If many drivers experience charging their vehicle to be impractical and difficult, this can dampen the demand for electric vehicles and hamper efforts to reach the goal that all new personal vehicles shall be zero-emission vehicles in 2025. Having to interact with a new payment solutions may also increase the risk that consumers avoid changing between charging operators. These ‘lock-in” mechanisms can weaken price competition between operators.
For charging operators, low operating costs and securing customer loyalty through benefits programs or subscriptions will be incentives to create unique payment solutions. Operating costs can also be one of the reasons why payment terminals are not a particularly widespread payment solution in the charging market. Payment solutions that provide lower costs for charging operators will contribute to enhancing charging operators’ margins and/or be passed on in the form of lower prices for consumers. Increased margins for charging operators will motivate them to develop charging services for consumers and lead to increased competition between the operators. Installing card terminals/contactless payment at existing charging stations that do not have this facility at present will lead to costs for charging operators in connection with software, physical design and eventual transaction costs. New technology can make it cheaper to install card payment systems; however, it can also make card payment obsolete. A requirement that the companies shall use a specific payment solution can weaken incentives to develop new and even better solutions. It is important to find a good balance between innovation and charging operators’ costs on the one side, and a simpler and clearer service to customers on the other.
Although surveys show that there is an overwhelming desire to pay with a debit card, it is however not clear that debit cards will be the preferred payment method for most customers if other payment solutions offer lower prices or other advantages. At present, it is common to find higher charging prices for ad hoc charging than for charging via an app or RFID tag.
In the revision of the AFI Directive, the European Commission is proposing that operators of public chargers with an output of over 50 kW, installed after the regulation comes into force, shall be required to ensure that charging can be carried out ad hoc (without signing up to a contract) and either by using a debit card or contactless payment terminal, which as a minimum must be able to read payment cards. From 1 January 2027, the requirement will apply to all chargers with an output over 50 kW. An evaluation is being made as to whether one single payment solution can cover several charging points. Charging units with an output of less than 50 kW installed after the regulation comes into force can as an alternative apply payment solutions that use an Internet connection, e.g. a QR code.
The European Parliament’s proposal is the same as the Commission’s; however, it will impose the same requirements on chargers with an output of less than 50 kW as those with an output of more than 50 kW. The Council states that before 31 December 2026 an evaluation shall be made as to whether debit cards remain appropriate.
Boks 6.1 E-roaming
The concept of roaming is familiar from mobile telephony, and refers to the use of a telephone in a different mobile network than the network to which one is subscribed. E-roaming is the corresponding solution in the EV charging market, i.e. with one single customer subscription it is possible to charge via other operators without registering as a user. For consumers, full access to e-roaming will be a significant move forward compared with the present complexity of price models, payment solutions and operator subscriptions.
E-roaming requires charging operators – via a third party – to open their charging services to users that are registered with other charging operators, without requiring the user to re-register. This requires agreements between operators, common technical specifications for the charging infrastructure and common, standardised communication protocols. Nothing is standing in the way of forming e-roaming agreements at present. Charging using the EV Association’s RFID tag or app gives for example members access to charging services from four different charging operators in Norway (Recharge, Kople, Ionity and Powered by E.ON Drive & Clever as of November 2022), in addition to some charging services in Europe, without the user having to register payment information with other than the EV Association. The apps Elton and Plugsurfing work in the same manner. Some charging operators have entered into bilateral roaming agreements, so that customers registered with one operator can charge via another without having to register with them. E-roaming is more common in some other European countries than in Norway; however, as far as the ministry is aware it is not a statutory requirement in any of these.
In the proposal for the revision of the AFI Directive (ref. Box 2.1), the European Commission wishes to impose technical requirements for new publicly accessible charging points that allow e-roaming. The Commission is discussing whether e-roaming requirements should be imposed; however, it has concluded that this will not be done at present, both because there are no obstacles at the moment to such agreements being formed and because it believes that a requirement will place excessive restrictions on operators’ freedom of contract. The European Parliament proposes to impose a requirement that operators of publicly accessible charging stations that are based on automatic authentication, e.g. plug and charge, must offer e-roaming. They also propose a requirement that publicly accessible charging stations that are deployed or redesigned after the regulation comes into force, must be digitally connected and have e-roaming functionality. Negotiations concerning the new regulations are not yet finalised; however, it does not appear that there will be a general requirement from the EU for e-roaming at publicly accessible rapid charging stations – although this may come later. The government will continually review the national requirements for e-roaming in context with the EU regulation.
6.2 Price information
Easily available, standardised and understandable price information is important so that consumers can take informed choices when making purchases. Inadequate price information weakens consumers’ ability to select the cheapest supplier. This can weaken competition between charging operators.
The Knowledge Base highlights that when charging an EV at a charging station, it is often difficult to work out how much to pay, what one is paying for and which services are most favourable to one’s own needs. Charging operators often utilise different calculation and price models. The final price can depend on several underlying price variables – and this is not necessarily clearly communicated to consumers.
Boks 6.2 The underlying price variables when charging an electric vehicle
Charger output – determines how quickly the vehicle can charge. Charging at a higher output is generally more expensive than charging at a lower output. There are challenges associated with the fact that several electric car models only achieve maximum charging speed for shorter periods. The output the car can accept is also influenced by several other factors, for example temperature/weather conditions, how full the battery is before charging begins and the number of charging cycles the vehicle has undergone during its lifetime (battery condition). Thus, one can end up paying extra for an output that in real terms is only achieved for a short period, and despite the fact it is more expensive, the total charging time is not very much shorter than if one had selected a charger with lower output.
kW charged – generally calculated based on the amount of energy that the charger supplies to the vehicle.
Time the charge is occupied – an electric vehicle will have to remain significantly longer at a charger than a petrol/diesel vehicle would at a fuel pump, and the owner does not need to remain at the vehicle whilst it is charging. To avoid queues, a solution could be hourly/minute pricing to prevent EVs from occupying charging stations longer than necessary.
To make it simpler to compare prices and to allow consumers to know how much they will pay for a charging session, there should be a requirement that information concerning charging prices is communicated in a simple and standardised manner. These requirements should also take into account the need to ensure adequate utilisation and customer flow at charging stations. This will contribute to increased competition between charging operators and allow consumers to make informed choices.
It is also important to ensure that information is easily available. Detailed information about prices must be provided in the immediate facility of the charging point so that consumers can appraise the information before they begin charging. It is not sufficient that this information is only available on the charging company’s website or via an app solution.
It is important that requirements for uniform price information are not so strict that they prevent charging operators from pricing their services in a way that reflects charging operators’ costs. This type of hindrance may lead to increases in the average price level for consumers.
In the EU Commission’s proposal for the revision of the Alternative Fuels Directive, there is a requirement that the price of charging shall be reasonable, transparent, comparable and non-discriminatory. Price information shall be easily visible at charging stations and must contain all price components for each charging session, including price per charge, price per minute or price per kWh.
To make it easier for consumers to compare services at different charging stations, a market portal for the charging market can be created. A market portal is a platform that provides an overview of the characteristics of products and/or services sold in the market. A market portal in the charging market can for example provide information about differing charging station prices, locations and availability. The market portal can be created by, or commissioned by, public authorities. Alternatively, public authorities can make data available that makes it possible for private operators to create a market portal on their own initiative.
A market portal for the charging market will make it easier for the individual consumer to select the most suitable charging service. This will contribute to enhancing competition between charging operators in the market. On the other hand, a market portal will make it easier for charging operators to compare prices at charging stations in the market. This could make it easier for charging operators to establish and maintain tacit cooperation. This type of cooperation will weaken competition between operators, which typically leads to higher prices for consumers.
Whether a market portal has mostly positive or negative effects on competition in the market will depend on several different conditions, including the market structure and design of the portal. It is therefore important that the setup and design of a market portal shall be appraised further before such a portal can be established.
Boks 6.3 Competition regulations
The Competition Act stipulates regulations for competition in the market. The objective of the law is to promote competition to contribute to the effective use of society’s resources. The Competition Act is enforced by the Norwegian Competition Authority. The Authority primarily works within three areas; unlawful cooperation (Section 10), abuse of dominant position (Section 11) and control of concentrations (Section 16).
In January 2022 the Competition Authority introduced a duty to provide information for the five largest operators in the market for rapid charging. This means that the operators must report all acquisitions, mergers and other commercial concentrations to the Competition Authority. The Competition Authority based its initiative on the fact that in several local markets, few operators offer rapid charging.
In connection with the introduction of a duty to provide information, the Competition Authority announced that they will conduct a survey of the market for rapid charging. The Authority consider whether competition in the market is working effectively, among other things by examining eventual hindrances to deployment. In connection with the survey, the Authority has obtained information on agreements between charging companies and the lessors of sites for charging points. During the autumn of 2022, the Competition Authority held meetings with the charging companies to discuss guidelines in the Competition Act relating to agreements for leasing of sites with a particular focus on the problem issue of exclusive agreements.
6.3 Information concerning charging services
In the EV Association’s EV survey in 2022, charging queues and chargers that are out of operation were among the disadvantages of owning an EV that were highlighted by most motorists. Half of the respondents experienced that rapid chargers were not working when they went to charge their vehicles. Half responded that they frequently, or occasionally experienced queues. Simple and clear information about which charging stations are available and working will make it easier for EV owners to avoid queues and faulty chargers. The information is available at present but is largely only available on the individual operator’s own app/website. Obtaining an overview of the actual state of services is thereby relatively complicated and time-consuming.
NOBIL is a database that was established in 2010 for the collection and distribution of data relating to charging stations for road transport. The aim of the database is to collect all data in one place to increase the availability of data concerning charging infrastructure. NOBIL contains detailed information about charging stations and is based on voluntary reporting from charging operators. Many of the charging operators currently report data, but not all. Enova is responsible for the operation and development of NOBIL.
Data from NOBIL is freely available and is used by third party operators to communicate information from the database. The NOBIL database has been further developed in the last few years, such that it meets standard protocols for the automatic import of charging station data (static and dynamic) from charging operators. In the next phase of development, the database will also encompass data on charging for heavy EVs and it can be adapted for other alternative infrastructure and energy carriers where this is relevant (for example gas and hydrogen).
Charging stations that have received subsidies from Enova from and including 2020 are required to share data. With user-friendliness in mind, there will be a great deal to gain from all operators sharing real-time data with NOBIL, showing whether a charger is occupied or available and whether it is in operation. This will make it simpler for EV owners to plan their journeys, offer better distribution of users between different charging stations and in turn reduce the risk of having to wait in a long queue at charging stations. Heavy vehicle drivers need to minimise time consumption during charging, and booking should be an option.
The European Commission’s proposal regarding new regulations for infrastructure for alternative fuels (ref. Box 2.1) includes proposals for requirements that operators or owners of publicly accessible charging or filling stations must ensure that specific static and dynamic data is made available free of charge, via a national database that shall be open to all. This applies to, among other things, dynamic data for operational status, usage status and ad hoc prices.
Standardisation involves making requirements and specifications for goods, services and processes. The use of standards contributes to more effective utilisation of society’s resources. Standards reduce trade barriers and ensure that products and services are of the intended quality and characteristics, in accordance with requirements from the market and authorities.
We have three national standardisation organisations in Norway. Standards Norway (SN) has the responsibility for Norwegian standards, Norwegian Electrotechnical Committee (NEK) is responsible for NEK standards, and the Norwegian Communications Authority is responsible for standards in telecommunications.
The Norwegian standards organisations each participate in their corresponding standard organisations at a European level. The Norwegian standardisation organisations are obliged to implement European standards drafted by the European standardisation organisations and appoint these as current standards. The cooperation between the European standardisation organisations, national standardisation organisations, EEA countries and the European Commission is regulated by a separate statutory instrument which has been incorporated into Norwegian law.9
International standards such as ISO standards and IEC standards are published as Norwegian Standards or NEK based on professional and requirement-related appraisals carried out by the standardisation organisations. Norway is not obliged to establish ISO or IEC standards as Norwegian standards or NEK.
The authorities can impose requirements in regulations, and if applicable various levels that businesses must adhere to, whilst the standards are a possible method for companies to comply with requirements and adhere to levels in regulations. The use of standards in the implementation of regulations and public policies can give regulators a broad spectrum of benefits, for example
- Broad market acceptance
- Simplification of regulations or policies
- Support for emerging technologies and promotion of innovative approaches without the need to amend regulatory frameworks
- A close relationship to international standards which allows for international market access, thereby promoting Norwegian industry’s competitiveness.
At present, there are no national standards for the design of equipment at charging stations. The relevant standards authority for the development of standards for charging EVs is the Norwegian Electrotechnical Committee (NEK). International work is ongoing to establish standards for charging infrastructure. The work is being carried out in committees in IEC (TC 69) and CENELEC (TC 69x). NEK has established a national committee (NK 69) to safeguard Norwegian interests in processing and voting on documents drafted by the above-mentioned committees.
The proposal for a new Alternative Fuels Directive (AFI) includes several requirements concerning technical specifications for charging infrastructure.
6.5 Universal design
The goal that all new private vehicles shall be zero-emission vehicles in 2025 is on the premise that all rapid charging stations are accessible to all drivers. More and more EVs are available in sizes and with adaptations that mean that they can be used by persons with reduced mobility. This means that charging stations must be universally designed, and steps must be taken to ensure a good infrastructure for the use of EV chargers.
In 2022, Standards Norway received funding from the Ministry of Culture and Equality to draft a report on universal design for charging infrastructure. The goal of this work is to ensure that all motorists, including users with special needs, can choose EVs. It should be equally simple to charge a vehicle as to fill it up with conventional fuel.
The working group that will develop the standard will be open to all sections of the industry. Standards Norway will strive to bring in a broad range of operators to participate in the process. The invitations will go to specific persons in business, public authorities, employee organisations, education and research, voluntary organisations, municipalities and consumers. Standards Norway will strive to form a committee that is as balanced as possible.
It is expected that the working group will address the following issues:
- The design of charging stations including proposals for solutions for easy entry and exit
- Payment solutions
- Physical design with a focus on universal design
- Signage, both for finding the charging station and to easily locate which charging unit is suitable for the individual’s car
The proposal for a new Alternative Fuels Directive includes requirements for universal design in relation to adequate spaces in parking areas, level foundations/services, adapted heights of screens/buttons and the weight of charging cables
The government will:
- Start a consultation on a proposal to place requirements for card payment and/or contactless payment (NFC) at all new charging points over 50 kW from 2023 and that a deadline is set for post-installation at existing charging points.
- Require uniform price information for charging and that price information shall be easily available before charging so that it is easy to compare prices across charging operators.
- Develop a market portal for rapid charging of light vehicles.
- Introduce a requirement that publicly accessible charging stations must provide real-time information/dynamic data on whether chargers are available or in use, along with operational status to the NOBIL database.
- Request that the Public Roads Administration initiate the development of a user-friendly app for navigation, booking and if applicable payment solutions for heavy vehicles, in cooperation with market operators.
- Contribute to establishing a Norwegian standard for universal design of charging infrastructure.