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The Shift to Zero-Emission Mobility

The EU has set ambitious goals for e-mobility, but so far hasn’t created the infrastructure to meet them. A definite and significant first-mover advantage is here, as well as the potential for a new market. Using integrated digital platforms to create an ecosystem will improve the customer experience – the currently missing ingredient to make e-mobility stick.

01 June 2021 • 5 min read

Photograph: Jida Li/Unsplash

Mobility and transport matters to us all. From the daily commute to the proper functioning of global supply chains for consumer goods, mobility is an enabler of our economic and social life.

Whilst mobility brings many benefits for its users, it is not without costs for our society. These include greenhouse gas emissions, air, noise and water pollution, but also accidents and road crashes, congestion, and biodiversity loss – all of which affect our health and wellbeing.

The EU’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, and of climate neutrality by 2050, will only be reached by introducing more ambitious policies to reduce the transport industry’s reliance on fossil fuels – and fast.

The most serious challenge facing the transport sector is to significantly reduce its emissions and become more sustainable. At the same time, this transformation offers great opportunities for better quality of life, and for the industry (across the value chain) to modernise, create high-quality jobs, develop new products and services, strengthen competitiveness and pursue global leadership.

The EU’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, and of climate neutrality by 2050, will only be reached by introducing more ambitious policies to reduce the transport industry’s reliance on fossil fuels – and fast – in synergy with zero pollution efforts. The success of the European Green Deal depends on our ability to make the transport system, as a whole, sustainable.

Technological advances and societal changes have triggered a drastic evolution in mobility. Alongside other trends, such as digitalisation, autonomous driving and shared mobility, electric mobility (e-mobility) is also gaining momentum and could help the EU to achieve its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise and dependence on oil. However, the extent of this help will depend on various factors, such as the share of electric vehicles in the overall vehicle fleet.

The great opportunity within the great challenge

One major issue holding back the wider uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is the perception that they cannot cover the desired distance without needing a recharge, known as ‘range anxiety’. This could either be due to the actual lack of charging infrastructure or to a lack of awareness that it exists. Although the charging infrastructure for EVs has been increasing at various speeds across the EU, it is still insufficient in some Member States, and there is lack of centralised information on existing recharging points.

A further decrease of car CO2 emissions in 2030 would require some 6 million publicly available charging points. With less than 225,000 available today, that translates into a staggering 27-fold increase in less than a decade.

Recent data analysis by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) shows a completely unbalanced picture when it comes to the spread of charging points for electric cars across the EU. 70% of all charging stations are concentrated in just three countries in Western Europe: the Netherlands (66,665), France (45,751) and Germany (44,538). Together, these countries make up just 23% of the EU’s total surface area. By contrast, the other 30% of infrastructure is scattered throughout the remaining 77% of the region.

Based on EU Commission calculations, a further decrease of car CO2 emissions in 2030 would require some 6 million publicly available charging points. With less than 225,000 available today, that translates into a staggering 27-fold increase in less than a decade.

The EU has also taken measures to make information about the location of charging points more easily available, and to help standardise their technical specifications. The EU encourages the State Members to implement and adopt national platforms (a single, unified database) to provide EV users with data regarding the geographic location of the charging points accessible to the public.

At NTT DATA, we believe this concept of a unified database – an e-mobility data platform – is essential to meet the EU’s goals.

A centralised platform accessible to all

This intelligent platform would integrate key information concerning availability and specification of charging points, models and costs , with any other information coming from the EV (e.g. residual battery capacity, electrical routes – and traffic and travel information, thanks to technologies such as 5G for real-time data sharing and mobile edge computing solutions).

Real-world data captured from diverse sources can be leveraged to generate crucial real-time insights. This would enable, for example, new models to manage the pressure on the power grid and ensure its stability.

We are also convinced that this platform, with related integrated services, can facilitate the opening of the market, reducing the information asymmetry between competitors, but also the barriers to market entry thanks to the availability of useful information to enable new services. It can catalyse the future of electric mobility and, at the same time, multiply market opportunities for all components of the e-mobility ecosystem, consisting of different infrastructures, services and operators.

The e-driver experience is also a strategic key to success: the product or service experience is becoming more relevant than the product or service itself. Consumers move between different categories of products and services, continually seeking greater speed and personalisation.

Digital technologies are at the centre of the e-mobility value chain. We are moving from a physical product perspective to a virtuous ecosystem perspective, based on integrated digital platforms enabling services for a more fluid, comfortable, sustainable mobility experience.

We observe that the EV charging sector comprises a small number of individual companies, which act mainly in isolation. Payment processes often vary from provider to provider; EV drivers need to subscribe to a variety of plans, download different apps, or acquire different RFID cards if they want to use public charging stations. In order to ensure an optimal and seamless customer experience, e-mobility operators must improve the entire e-driver journey: localisation, sockets specifications, booking, start-and-stop charging, payment procedures, billing and more.

Interoperability between charging units and providers is also a critical enabling factor to accelerate the adoption of EV, allowing customers to recharge their vehicles wherever they are and whenever they need it.

Technology is the key for e-mobility’s evolution

Digital technologies are at the centre of the e-mobility value chain. We are moving from a physical product perspective to a virtuous ecosystem, based on integrated digital platforms enabling services for a more fluid, comfortable, sustainable mobility experience – and a more balanced and stable environment and society.

Companies operating in the e-mobility ecosystem have to adopt a data-driven approach and make the most of the data potential, with an integrated system for their acquisition and management.

Analytics, next generation data platforms and cloud native solutions will be integrated, offering huge business potential. Machine learning algorithms, neural networks and artificial intelligence open the doors to process optimisation and the adoption of new business models capable of creating differentiation in an increasingly competitive market.

Smart mobility for the future

The transformation in the field of energy constitutes a great opportunity to redesign society and improve the quality of life with a new model of sustainable development, enabled by technology and achievable thanks to the involvement of citizens, companies and institutions.

We at NTT DATA work every day to build a more sustainable society, based on the Society 5.0 model, born in Japan and inspired by the 17 Global Goals of the UN. Through our Electric and Sustainable Mobility products and services, as well as through our wider portfolio of technology innovation, we strive for an intelligent society, which puts human wellbeing at the centre and integrates growth with not only environmental but also social sustainability. A society with fewer inequalities, in which access to resources is guaranteed and inclusion is advocated.

To us, smart mobility means identifying symbiotic relationships between different industry players, both consolidated and emerging, and leveraging intelligent, integrated digital platforms to offer an outstanding customer experience for e-drivers. Through maximising the uptake of e-mobility, we can make the all-important shift to zero emissions.

Automotive CX Energy & utilities Environmental impact Transport & logistics

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