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Understanding EV charging network roaming and interoperability

India is currently in the early adoption stage of EVs. CPOs (Charge Point Operators) responsible for building charging infrastructure have their own EV charging Apps to enable users to access their charging stations.

In order to access a wide charging network, EV users currently have to install multiple apps by different CPOs. This is a pain point an eMSP (Electric Mobility Service Provider) can address by aggregating the chargers operated by multiple CPOs on a common platform and allowing the interoperability of chargers among CPOs.

We caught up with Rai Nitin Chitransh – Founder at evvnovator – an emerging Bangalore-headquartered eMSP company nurtured by Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India to learn more.

Can you explain how evnnovator is bringing different charging networks together on its platform? How will it benefit the CPOs and the end EV users?

We have built an eMSP platform on the OCPI protocol, which widely covers CSMS (Charging Station Management System) used by different CPOs who wish to participate in roaming and interoperability. The eMSP enables roaming and interoperability that eventually helps the participating CPOs to gain higher utilization, thus, higher revenue potential. Sharing of the charging network among the operators also allows them to offer a wider network to their customers without installing every charger by themselves.

Our solutions built on top of our eMSP platform brings direct benefits to the EV user, such as a single touch point to access a large network, i.e. a unified app that allows locating chargers, charging & payment and a wide number of CPOs.

Which charging protocols are used to support interoperability and roaming?

OCPI and OCPP are two different protocols in the EV charging ecosystem, yet they are connected to each other.

  • OCPP – Open Charge Point Protocol, developed and managed by Open Charge Alliance, is an open-source application protocol responsible for communication between the network-enabled Charging Station and its management application or CSMS.

The intent of OCPP is to enable EV chargers manufactured by different manufacturers to work seamlessly with a variety of CSMS (subject to the EV Charger supporting OCPP).

  • OCPI – Open Charge Point Interface, managed and maintained by EV Roaming Foundation, is the protocol for roaming and interoperability. It helps ensure that EV drivers can charge at any charging station by using a single eMSP (eMobility Service Provider) application, irrespective of charging station being operated by any CPO.

OCPI is the communication protocol designed to connect the CSMS of CPOs and the eMobility Service Provider platform bilaterally, allowing for roaming among EV charging networks operated by different Charging Point Operators.

A typical bilateral communication flow involves User Application <-> eMSP Platform <-> Hub (if Implemented ) <-> CPO’s CSMS <-> EV Charger.

How do you facilitate charging network roaming for the user?

We offer the following solutions to help stakeholders access charging network roaming:

  • FICH App – A B2C app that offers an end-to-end charging experience to EV users. All the chargers onboarded on the platform from different CPOs are available through this app.
  • FICH for Fleet – A B2B app for EV Fleet Drivers that enables them to access the charging stations outside their hubs. We work on monthly contracts for payment without the hassle of pay per charge.
  • eMSP API – A strategic product for the automotive OEMs, EV Charger sharing CPOs, companies building EV Charging apps and other partners who would like to leverage the charging network aggregated by our eMSP platform.
How do you manage the data belonging to different stakeholders?

Our eMSP platform ensures data integrity and manages the data of respective CPO partners separately through our partner management process.

On the customer side, we have signed a contract with an upcoming EV fleet where we will handle the complete Customer and Driver profile data through a separate account management process, including billing, payment and settlement.

What is the current scale of your charger coverage?

We are working aggressively on both the Demand and Supply sides.

  • On the supply side, we currently have 100+ DC charging Points onboarded, which are operated by Charge+Zone. We have signed an MOU with Fortum Charge & Drive to test their 200+ charging points and work towards roaming services.
  • On the demand side, we are working on collaborations with OEMs and fleet operators.

Recommended watch – CEEW video on the need for EV Roaming and Interoperability

This interview was originally published in EVreporter November 2022 Magazine, which can be accessed here.

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