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  • Writer's pictureTyler Phillipi

National Grid’s Analysis of EV.Energy

National Grid challenges with EV Managed Charging

In 2024, Niagara Mohawk (d/b/a National Grid), an investor-owned utility out of New York, filed a request with state regulators to modify its Electric Vehicle (EV) Managed Charging program.  The program was first approved in 2022.

In the filing, the utility reports some key challenges they faced, but incorrectly attributes these as “Challenges with the Current State of the Managed Charging Ecosystem.”  

This blog will highlight the key findings, their underlying causes, and how they can be best mitigated.

Issues National Grid faced with EV.Energy EV Managed Charging

There were four key challenges faced: 

  • Limited Support for Smart Charging

    • The program initially supported only a limited number of EV models (BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, and Tesla), thereby restricting accessibility and inclusivity for a broader range of potential participants.

  • Missing EV Charging Data

    • Persistent data loss issues impacted customer billing and savings, with multiple instances of missing EV charging data.

  • Inconsistent Smart Charging Performance

    • Inconsistent performance of smart charging led to on-peak charging, ignored charging commands, and challenges in reaching desired battery states of charge.

  • Technical Challenges with OEMs

    • Technical challenges led to the removal of Chevrolet and Ford from the program due to persistent issues with their telematics systems.

Things FlexCharging does differently

Customized Support For Each Automaker Is Required. 

In order to reliably capture data from EVs, telematics vendors must understand and address the idiosyncrasies of each automaker’s underlying telematics hardware and API requirements, which can extend to differences on a per-model, per-year, and sometimes per-trim level basis. This means that a vendor needs to account not only for differences between over two dozen OEMs but sometimes even adjust for meaningful differences within cars offered under the same brand.   

This is true whether you are integrating directly through the Automotive APIs or indirectly through an aggregator.  Offering comprehensive support for the broadest range of electric vehicles means requiring specific knowledge and regular changes based on ongoing changes to the automakers’ systems.  

FlexCharging supports 28 brands of EVs, adding roughly one automaker each quarter, and is constantly testing new technology pathways to improve outcomes for our customers without overcommitting to one solution or technical approach. It is our experience, both working with automakers and with technology in general, that overcommitting to one technology path in an emerging or volatile market can lead to issues that can be hard to recover from. 

Enhanced data reliability through Adaptive Polling™.  

Most telematics systems that request, or “poll”, information from vehicles are challenged with two problems; 

  1. If they poll infrequently, they miss key data, which is critical for converting the telematics data into a virtual submeter of charging data. 

  2. If they poll too frequently, they can cause damage or lose access to the car. Losing access can either be caused by the vehicle blocking access, or the automaker API shutting off access to all EVs for a period of time. These types of issues cause a negative experience for EV owners and lead to missing and incomplete data for the utility.

FlexCharging’s patented Adaptive Polling™ system adjusts the frequency of polling based on a number of factors including the make, model, and year of the EV along with the EV’s history and the current status of the vehicle. It also factors in utility program requirements & load management goals. This leads to the most complete data, the highest quality of service to utilities, and the fewest incidents or issues for the EV owner. This leads to better program adoption, greater EV retention, and higher data quality for the program.

Customer and Program Manager Support 

The issues of ‘customer access’ and 'smart charging performance’ outlined in the National Grid report often come down to bad user experience, common misunderstandings, or automaker-specific challenges that are easily overcome with good customer support and the support of the utility program managers. This support comes from a mix of technology, people, and processes to help mitigate these issues. 

FlexCharging prides itself on being hands-on, and proactively resolving issues with EV owners and utility staff.  Every utility receives dedicated program management and customer success resources, and FlexCharging employs an extensive launching and scaling process for standing-up programs of all sizes.  In addition, when major issues spawn from the automakers’ systems, we are the first to report them, mitigate their impact, and deploy a fix to help avoid any negative experience reaching our connected EV owner.

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