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EV Drivers — who are they now and in the future? — Part 4

In this series which is based on data from Electric Vehicle Councils study, JD Power buyer considerations and other sources to better understand how and where consumers drive and recharge their electric vehicles (EVs) and what they would like to experience while recharging in terms of site design, amenities, capabilities, and services.

It is intended to understand current consumer behavior and how it will evolve in the next 10 years.

We will look at the following 4 areas:

  • Part 1 — Who is the EV Driver?

  • Part 2 — When and where does the EV Driver recharge?

  • Part 3 — Why does an EV Driver choose a particular recharging facility?

  • Part 4 — How do EV drivers interact with charging equipment?

Part 4 — How do EV Drivers interact with charging equipment ?


  • Approximately 57% of surveyed EV drivers are willing to pay a premium over at-home charging rates to use a public Level 2 charger, and more than half of EV drivers are willing to pay more for DCFC compared to Level 2 charging when convenient (2020).

  • EV drivers preferred optimized charging and to be billed by the kilowatt-hour (kWh) to attain a good balance of cost and time (2016).

  • Approximately 77% of people used mobile payments last year, including 80% of 35- to 50-year-old U.S. residents; all top charging networks appear to support mobile payments (2019).

EV Consumers’ willingness to pay for charging services and the influence of price in this perception

ESource, in their survey of current and potential PEV owners, found that 57% of respondents are willing to pay a premium to use a DCFC, and 22% of respondents are willing to pay a premium of 50% or more for access to a DCFC (Figure 30).

When asked to compare EV charging to paying for gas, 70% of respondents perceived that they pay the same or less to charge an EV as compared to buying gas (Figure 31).

In this same study, ESource further found that 44% of PEV owners are willing to pay between £1-£2 per hour to use a public charger with an assumption that at-home charging is valued at £0.75 per hour (Figure 32).

The willingness is observed to steadily decline at rates greater than £2 per hour.

Potential PEV owners, on the other hand, appear to be more price sensitive — their willingness to pay for public charging peaks at $1 per hour and declines at higher prices, and 12% of respondents claim that they would not use a public Level 2 charger.

Although much of this research is US based the propensity for EV Drivers to pay extra for faster chargers and convenience of public chargers.

When participants were asked how frequently they would use a DCFC if they had to pay a premium, 59% responded they would use it when convenient and 24% said they would plug in at every chance (Figure 33).

This response changed drastically when informed about the possibility of battery degradation with DCFC. In that case, 45% said they would only use a DCFC in an emergency (up from 15%), and 33% said they would plug in when convenient (down from 59%) (Figure 34).

EV Consumers’ perception of various billing methods

In the 2013 PlugShare and survey, the large majority of respondents (73%) preferred being charged by the energy used in recharging their vehicles as opposed to being charged by time spent recharging their vehicles.

The mindset of today’s EV drivers is not very different from the findings of that survey — being charged by the energy drawn — is very closely comparable to filling gas at a gas station in a conventional vehicle where the driver pays for the energy drawn and not by pumping time. However if the EV Driver is combining the charging with parking then a time based method is preferred. Both methods are now used, with Tesla declaring that charging per kWh to be most fair and simple.

The University of Michigan Transport Research Institute conducted a study to assess respondents’ preferred payment method, including current and prospective EV owners. The results showed that “pay-per-use” setup was marginally preferred over “automatic authorization,” where pay-per-use involved providing an ID and billing information, such as a credit card, RFID card, or cash, and automatic authorization involved the vehicle identifying itself and the customer being charged on the payment method on file on their account (Figure 36).

Respondents marginally preferred a “pre-negotiated billing rate” as opposed to a“variable billing rate;” for a pre-negotiated billing rate, the driver would use pre-negotiated pricing at any charging station, the vehicle would be identified by the EVSE, and the driver would be billed automatically to the payment method on file (Figure 37).

Regarding cost and energy demand preference when using a public charger, 73% of respondents preferred “optimized charging” and 27% preferred “on-demand charging.” Optimized charging in this context means charging would be optimized based on factors that affect cost, such as the vehicle’s charging requirement and demand on the grid, with a definite pre-set end time. On-demand charging, on the other hand, means the vehicle is charged as quickly as needed without regards to reducing costs or electricity demand on the grid (Figure 38).

EV Consumers’ comfort with the various payment options

The payment methods offered by the top public EV networks, when analyzed, appear to all support in-app payments, excluding Tesla’s Supercharger network (Figure 39).

Tesla Superchargers identify the vehicle and charge the account on file when a charging occasion is initiated. Tesla’s Supercharger is not accessible to drivers of other vehicles.

Excluding the Tesla network, the other major providers also accept RFID authentication via their membership card according to their respective websites. Some of the Public EV Networks like ChargePoint, and PodPoint also accept payments directly from a credit card at the charger, and also support mobile payment like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

In a survey conducted by McKinsey in the U.S. between August 2018 and August 2019, 77% of all respondents used mobile payment (Figure 40) with 80% mobile payment users within the ages of 35 and 50 (Figure 41).

The top EV demographic of between the ages of 40 and 55 overlaps with this user base. A separate 2019 survey by Pymnts found that 73% of respondents made mobile payments at least once a week (Figure 42). It may be safe to assume that EV users are currently comfortable with the available payment method choices.

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