Reflections on EVS37

After a week at the symposium and trade show, the industry is levelling out, and V2G and automatic connection are the new topics.

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This week able to go to EVS37 in Seoul, South Korea as part of the Dutch trade, mission organised by RVO with CarbonX, Open Charge Alliance, TNO, FIER and others.

It’s smaller than the last couple of years, but the conference seems best known in Europe, and this year is hosted in Seoul, South Korea. The conference rotates continent every year, so last year was in Sacramento, and next year will be Gothenburg which is expected to be much bigger.

I missed some of the crazy at the trade show that we saw especially two years ago when the industry was flush with cash from investments. Two years ago in Oslo, a battery manufacturer built a fake forest in their booth, and there was a flying car in another one. This year the booths were well done but seemed sensibly sized. There were some large ones (from for example, a large auto manufacturer that is reasonable, if not expected). A friend commented he saw a similar cycle in the solar industry about 10 years ago. The first few conferences were huge, with wild promotional stunts as companies full of investor cash sought to win market share. As the industry matured the tradeshow activities started normalizing to a reasonable ROI activity. This show is principally deep supplier B2B, with lots of cable and module vendors. There is value in being here, but the booth size is mostly in proportion to the revenue.

I am seeing more interest in Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G) reaching practical levels. V2G is still challenging due to the number of stakeholders in many cases, and there are few vehicles / chargers / backoffices which can make it work fully. The upcoming release of OCPP 2.1 will allow far more V2G functionality between charger and backoffice. There are however still few cars which support V2G over CCS and most of the existing trials are done using CHAdeMO which is a technically superior option though with weak market share. (Think VHS v. Beta video cassettes). Like I have posted, I am skeptical that V2G will be used often, since any time you can use single directional smart charging to deliver a grid service it will be cheaper, and there is a massive capacity coming available. I do, however, think it will be a satisfier feature (expected in the market, and customers use it to filter acceptable options) on cars and chargers and will be valuable in occasional (and increasing as wind and solar increases in the energy mix) situations where there isn’t enough single-directional capacity. It will become a standard feature, but that won’t tun into the pot of gold some of the early boosters are hoping for.  

A few companies are doing automatic connection systems, such as robots. Gulplug  automatically centered and connected a plug dropped from the car into a receptacle. It was interesting to watch, but seems to offer few advantages, and some notable disadvantages compared to inductive charging. Most of the robots were concept demos with a very expensive industrial robot arm strapped to a cart. The current range of connectors were designed to be connected by humans, and so they don’t have the self-aligning mechanical features which would make it easier for a low-cost robot. Automatic connection or wireless charging will be a necessity for fully autonomous vehicles, but until then the added effort of plugging in is rarely going to justify the cost and complexity of the current alternatives. Inductive has some possibility for fleets and premium cars.

In writing this and looking at the new features people are talking about, it highlights what has become boring. Most AC and DC, even multi-output and multi-module chargers are commoditizing and there were many brands with technically strong offerings who are left to compete on non-technical aspects like price, price, availability, delivery time, marketing etc.

I’m enjoying Korea, it is well organized, clean and punctual. I should however work on my singing before returning to a karaoke bar.

This is not intended as financial or technical advice and ChargeSim accepts no liability for actions taken based on it. Always consult a professional about your specific situation.