Could car parks become hubs for green mobility?
Clean, green and fun to drive, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) now account for nearly 15% of new car sales in Europe.1 Momentum is building, with industry analysts forecasting that sales of BEVs will overtake petrol and diesel cars as early as 2025. Against this background, car makers continue to raise their game with a substantial expansion in electric vehicle production. Volkswagen, for example, is looking to increase its share of all-electric cars to 70% of its sales by 2030.2
Public attitudes towards electric cars are increasingly positive. But stumbling blocks remain. Aside from the high price of vehicles and concerns about battery life, one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption is anxiety around access to public vehicle charging.
Tied in with this are bigger questions about the future of mobility. Rather than simply replicating existing models of private vehicle usage, could the shift to electric mobility create opportunities for new forms of integration between cars and public transport?
Below, we explore the issues faced by the public at large and share our vision regarding how car parks contribute to resolving those and to enabling electric mobility. We also reveal why car parks could play such an important part in delivering sustainable travel in the smart cities of the near future.
What are the pain points?
Inability to charge at home is a major barrier to EV adoption. Nearly half of Europe’s population lives in flats – a proportion that rises to more than 70% among city dwellers.3 EV charging at home is often not an option for millions of potential EV owners. Easy access to affordable public charging will be essential if widespread EV adoption is to be achieved.
EV charging needs to be made easier. Where is my nearest charge point? Which one of the ten (or more) apps on my phone will I need? Do I even have the right app or pass to unlock the charger and pay? Will the charger be available when I arrive? What if it’s broken? How much will I pay per kWh? Lack of transparency remains a blocker for people who don’t have access to their own charger at home or on the move.
Car park operators need a risk-free way to deploy EV charging. Car parks are a natural location for vehicle charging, particularly in cities. But deploying charging infrastructure at scale demands significant investment and expertise, including mastery of the regulatory environment. Car park operators need a partner who can deliver EV charging as a service – without incurring the cost, risk and complexity of managing the infrastructure themselves.
What is Thales’ vision for EV charging?
At Thales, we believe that EV charging should be simple, secure and futureproof. We also believe that charging can play a role beyond the battery – for example, by serving as a bridgehead between personal transportation and wider Mobility as a Service (MaaS) ecosystems. How might all of this work in practice?
Deliver the best user experience for drivers. This means solving every pain point for existing and would-be EV drivers. It starts with the insurance to find in the car park an available and fully functional charging installation and to be able to pay for the charging service in an easy way. To go further, a single payment for both charging and parking sessions payment is possible. Parking bays are equipped with ergonomically-designed charge points which support ISO 15118 – the international “plug and charge” standard that enables roaming. Meanwhile, real-time infrastructure monitoring ensures reliability and means EV drivers are never confronted by non-functioning infrastructure.
Risk-free deployment. Car park operators need a turnkey EV charging package – with infrastructure – deployed and operated by a trusted partner. This includes market analysis for each location, power supply assessments, regulatory compliance and permissions, accessing government subsidies, installation of ultra-reliable Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), remote equipment management, integration with the existing car park management solution, back office and revenue collection. All of this is backed up with managed services, including expert maintenance via a single point of contact, with cybersecurity support and centralised supervision through a Network Operations Centre.
Charging infrastructure needs to be futureproof and open to innovation. This is vital, because patterns of EV usage are still evolving. New functions – such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) energy transfers and inductive charging for autonomous vehicles – should be achievable quickly and with zero disruption.
Supercharging sustainable mobility
We believe that car parks could supercharge sustainable mobility, as well as generating new revenue streams for car park operators. First and foremost, increased provision of vehicle charging in car parks will act as a catalyst for much wider EV adoption – helping cities and governments to achieve their net zero and emissions reduction targets.
With the emergence of route planners – powered by city’s multimodal services (MaaS) – EV charging data allows operators with better services to appear higher in route recommendations, stimulating business. Meanwhile, drivers are always offered the best onward journey, whether using private vehicles or public transport.
Data captured from apps and parking sessions – anonymised and managed in accordance with data protection regulations – has vast potential to support smart city initiatives. Use cases include better management of power grids, predicting passenger flows in public transport systems, and integration within data lakes that cities are now creating to improve urban mobility.
Car parks could also act as hubs for accessing shared mobility – particularly given the trend away from private car ownership and the rise of car sharing. Meanwhile, parking and charging are likely to play a crucial role in the growth of driverless shuttles and similar forms of shared autonomous mobility. Thales has the tools and expertise to turn this vision into a reality – and to build a future we can all trust.
1New car registrations. European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. 18 January 2024.
2Strategy. Volkswagen. https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/strategy-3912
3Type of housing in cities or rural areas, 2021. Eurostat.