Why roaming is the buzzword in EV charging | Plugged Into Virta Podcast

The roaming market had a real boost last year - the growth of roaming events is expected to multiply in 2021. Every electric vehicle driver wants to do e-roaming. But what is e-roaming? What are the challenges in EV roaming at the moment?  

Guest: Pia Purola-Salmi, Roaming Manager at Virta

Host: Jason Millward

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Intro

Jason M. 

Hello there and welcome. My name is Jason Millward and you are listening to Plugged into Virta - the electric vehicle charging podcast. The future of mobility is electric. In this podcast we will discuss about the newest and hottest topics in the world of e-mobility, smart EV charging, energy management and the business around it. We will go under the surface and discuss openly about the challenges, opportunities, solutions and trends. 

We will give you honest fact-based information and tell you what it means in practise in plain English. So, if you want to hear insights from top experts, learn more about the world of EV charging and the future outlook, or just want to listen to some inspiring stories from around the world of EV charging. This podcast is for you. 

 

Interview 

Jason M. 

So, in today's episode, we're going to talk about roaming and just why roaming is the buzzword in electric vehicle charging. My guest today is Pia Purola-Salmi. The roaming market is at a real boost last year with the growth of roaming events expected to multiply in 2021. Every electric vehicle driver wants to do e-roaming. But what is e-roaming? What are the challenges in EV roaming at the moment?  

So, before we dive into today's subject and talk about the future of electric vehicle roaming, could you, Pia, introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about yourself? 

Pia P.-S. 

Hi Jason, thanks for inviting me in this session.My name is Pia Purola-Salmi, as you said. I'm the manager of roaming operations at Virta. I joined the company (in) April 2020.I have quite a bit of background in mobile or telecom, mainly in roaming area, but also in other areas, so roaming as a concept is quite familiar to me. 

EV roaming is a bit different from mobile roaming, but not that much, but let'stalk about it in a bit. 

Jason M. 

So, let's start with the basics. What is e-roaming? And we're all familiar with roaming when it comes to mobile phones, of course, but what does that mean for electric vehicles? 

Pia P.-S.

Basically, in the very simplest way. It's the EV driver of one charging network that can use the charging points of another network.And you can do it with one customer account. So,basically RFIDsor your app.We have identified three layers in the roaming. In the core is your own charging network, on top of that is the available charging network and all charging networks powered by Virta are available for you at no extra cost. 

With 400 customers and 25,000 charging points. 

Resting on the two is the external roaming network, that is the roaming hubs - Hubject, Gireve, E-Clearing or CPI, or a combination of both.So basically, that's what e-roaming is. 

Jason M. 

So why is roaming such an important service for EV drivers? Why does everyone want to use e-roaming? 

Pia P.-S. 

Well, as you said, the roaming market had a real boost last year and the growth of roaming transactions is expected to multiply this year. Basically, for CPOs it means additional utilisation rate of their charging points and for EMPs, the EV drivers will be able to use your home network app, an RFDI, while driving around.  

Jason M. 

And CPO and EMP is what exactly? 

Pia P.-S. 

The CPO is the charge point owner and the EMP is the electrical mobile supplier, the one who has the customer relation with the EV driver. 

Jason M. 

The market is clearly not mature yet. What are the challenges in EV roaming at the moment, do you feel? 

Pia P.-S. 

The biggest obstacle of roaming is the protective pricing of some players. If we cannot agree on a fair and reasonable roaming pricing, eventually legislation will intervene. Just aswhat happened with mobile phones or mobile roaming. 

Jason M. 

Is that because individual countries have different laws regarding the regulation of such prices and whatnot? 

Pia P.-S. 

There isn't any legislation and that's the issue here.Some leading markets, for instance Switzerland - the market players have set a decent pricing for roaming with each other, where it benefits everyone. The charge points get more customers and the EV drivers gets better charging coverage in the networks. 

Jason M. 

Besides the decent pricing, what else is going on in the EV roaming market? 

Pia P.-S. 

As we said regarding the legislation, the taxation is also one thing that needs to be solved. The international roaming environment is complex in terms of taxation as there is no single market legislation.Therefore, one should be cautious when selecting a partner and business model for this. And we, Virta, have initiated the work for single market legislation between the commission and leading market players in the industry. 

As a forerunner, Virta built its own VAT model to be 100% compliant with all EU markets to meet the legislation even in this fragmented and immature legislation environment. As there are multiple players and technologies for roaming, it may be complicated for a single CPO or EMP to set up a commercially viable roaming operation by itself. That's why the aggregators, such as charging platforms are in key role in organising the cost-efficient roaming offering. One needs to consider invoicing, settlements and so on and so forth, and Virta will handle all of that on your behalf. 

Jason M. 

And where do you see roaming being in the next five years, perhaps? And this legislation, do you think that will be nailed down? 

Pia P.-S. 

In terms of the pricing itself, I hope the market itself will adjust and find a viablesolution to it, basically self-regulating, I think is the key. In terms of the taxation, like I said, we are 100% compliant withall EU markets, so in that sense, whatever their legislation is, we will be able to solve that on your behalf. 

Jason M. 

So, what about the consumer? How is it going to affect them at the end of the day? How will they see this affecting their lives? 

Pia P.-S. 

Well, basically as I said, reasonable pricing itself, but for the EV driver I would think that there are more available charging points withmore CPOs and EMPs, in terms of roaming market, so there are new players and also availability. For 

the EV driver itself, it's basically still the same thing. You go from Switzerland to (the) neighbouring country, or a neighbouring city and you can use your same app in charging. 

Jason M. 

You don’t need six different apps or 10 different RFIDs. You just use one. 

Pia P.-S. 

You just use one, exactly. So, in one sense I would say that you will be better served. 

Jason M. 

Okay, alright, thank you very much for joining us, Pia, and good luck for the future. 

Pia P.-S. 

Thank you, thanks Jason. 

 

Outro  

Jason M. 

And that’s it for this episode of Plugged into Virta: The electric vehicle charging podcast. Thank you for listening! 

If you liked this podcast, don’t forget to follow and subscribe. And please share it to your colleagues and friends. We appreciate all your feedback, reviews and ratings, too.  

You can connect with us on LinkedIn @virtaltd. 

And if you are looking for more information about EV charging, e-mobility and energy management, visit us @virta.global. 

Until next time, thank you for joining us. Let’s take charge of the future – together. 

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