Tuesday, July 9, 2024
HometransportLocal firm launches one-stop platform to locate and pay for EV charging...

Local firm launches one-stop platform to locate and pay for EV charging across 11 networks

SINGAPORE – A local start-up has launched a platform that will allow electric vehicle (EV) drivers to access more than 1,350 charging points from 11 different operators with a single account sign-up.

Called Voltality, the platform is meant to help customers of companies such as carmakers, car-sharing operators and commercial vehicle leasing firms charge their EVs more easily by removing the need for users to download multiple smartphone applications and put in separate pre-payment deposits for each app.

Developed by local tech start-up Beep, Voltality is integrated into the apps offered by these companies and does not require downloading yet another app by the end-users.

The platform, which was officially launched on Thursday, allows EV drivers to search for chargers by type and price.

Depending on the operator’s set-up, it can also show whether the chargers are available, although there can be a lag of between a few seconds and a few minutes from the actual situation on the ground.

The 11 charging operators, which include Charge+, ComfortDelGro Engie, SP Group and Go by City Energy, will still have their own smartphone apps and payment arrangements.

Beep chief executive Kristoffer Jacek Soh told The Straits Times that while the formal agreements with the charging operators are in place, the company is still in the process of rolling out the full features to its users.

This means that not all users are able to switch seamlessly across the charging points without needing to make separate sign-ups yet.

Mr Soh did not give a clear timeline on when the features will be fully rolled out, but said the testing is already in the final phase.

The launch follows a trial in June 2022 involving 25 private-hire drivers from Gojek Singapore who were given a card to pay for EV charging at 160 charging points.

Beep said the contactless card is not part of the final version of the platform because it would be difficult to administer efficiently on a larger scale. It also said that it did not want to create another EV charging app on top of those that already exist, and add to the number of interfaces that drivers have to deal with.

On the MyTransport.SG mobile app, which is owned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), locations of chargers from 15 different charging operators are listed. The app also shows the real-time availability for some of the chargers, but it cannot be used to pay for charging.

There are other operators in Singapore which are not listed on the LTA app. Typically, each operator would have its own smartphone app and payment arrangements.

The Electric Vehicle Charging Act has provisions for the LTA to make using charging services more convenient for EV drivers. This includes giving users the option to use and pay for charging without needing to register for an account.

During its 2022 trial, Beep learnt that EV charging operators use different technologies to manage their services, and revamp their backend systems from time to time.

Mr Soh said this makes it more difficult for operators to work independently with one another to create and maintain a shared platform. “If the arrangement is made among multiple operators, they would need to update the entire set-up when one of them overhauls its own backend system,” he added.

Instead of having the operators adhere to a common standard, Beep’s approach is to adopt the system that is already in use to make the access and payment for charging services seamless for the end-user.

“This is the most neutral, collaborative and least resource-heavy way to move forward,” Mr Soh said.

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