If electric vehicles, or EVs, are the future of the automotive industry, are charging stations the new gas stations? It certainly seems that way, which means the EV charging market is primed for explosive growth. The rise of electric vehicles is creating an increased demand for charging stations. Every opportunity to differentiate a charging station can help businesses capture market share. One such opportunity is in the EV charging station display.

EV Charging Stations by the Numbers

As automotive companies continue to roll out new electric vehicles, the discussion turns to how those vehicles can stay charged:

  • Annual EV sales grew 19,000% in the United States between 2010 and 2020. As technology and public opinion evolve, the electric vehicle market is growing exponentially. It’s projected that there will be as many as 35 million EVs on the road by 2030 in the United States alone.
  • There are already an estimated 53,000 public charging stations in the United States, according to Porch Research.
  • The International Council on Clean Transportation predicts massive growth in the U.S. charging infrastructure between now and 2030.
  • The growth isn’t limited to the United States. Global Newswire forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 44% for the electric vehicle charging station market until 2027.

Legacy automotive brands are riding the EV wave instead of trying to swim against it. General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, has set a goal for the company to sell only electric passenger vehicles by 2035. All of those vehicles will need to be charged. Investors, businesses and even governments are pouring resources into their efforts to build the charging stations that will power the electric future of the automotive industry.

Defining and Designing the Charging Station

Thanks in part to a $135 billion commitment from the U.S. government, the United States should have a national network of 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030. Because these charging stations are public, they’ll have to accommodate all the different types of vehicles. Every vehicle can accept a different power level from the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

When a driver plugs in an electric vehicle, there is a brief communication between the EV and EVSE before charging begins. The car requests information about how much power the charging station can deliver. The EVSE returns an answer. Then the car requests the maximum power the charger can provide, and the vehicle can accept. From there, the car controls the voltage and will continue to charge until it’s full.

What Do Charging Stations Display?

There are three different levels of electric vehicle charging with various display functionality:

  1. Level 1 120V EV home chargers typically don’t have displays.
  2. Level 2 chargers, from 240V for home or 208V for commercial chargers, generally have simple displays. The charger might show the time to completion and display the battery level with an animated charge progress bar.
  3. Level 3 480V EV chargers, including Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) and the Tesla Supercharger, offer the most advanced displays. If the EVSE can charge more than one vehicle at a time, it might have multiple displays. These chargers typically have all the EV charging station display features from Level 2, plus a video screen for news headlines and ads.

As more users begin to use charging stations, expectations are rising. Those who wish to win EVSE market share must develop competitive EV charging station displays.

What Drivers and Passengers Need from Charging Stations

EV charging stations aren’t just the gas stations of the future. They’re also travel lodges of the future. People might spend significant time at these stations while waiting for their vehicles to charge. Not all EV charging stations are built the same, and the differences matter more for extended visits. It’s critical to create the right user experience, which means considering the following:

Prioritize Ease of Use

Early adopters have already had EVs for years, and now the early majority is starting to embrace electric vehicles. Social reasons for going electric are even encouraging some people who typically don’t adopt technology, especially quickly. As a result, new users of all ages and comfort levels will be interacting with EV charging station displays.

To accommodate a diverse user base, an EV charging station display must be user-friendly and intuitive. Simple screens should provide clear instructions. Touch screens should enable easy navigation. There must be convenient payment options and a clear path to payment.

Users want to know where they are in the charging process and take control of the charging experience as much as possible. Some users prefer to monitor and manage the experience via a mobile app or the in-vehicle interface, so the EVSE must be compatible with other technologies. Diagnostic information, troubleshooting workflows and live support help guide the user to a satisfying experience.

Ensure High Visibility

The EV charging station display will likely be outside, requiring it to be visible in all conditions. It will need the right type of screen to make the charging status visible to the user. When designing an EVSE, it can be helpful to generate code and test it in various real-world scenarios—including sun, shade, partial light and full darkness.

Performance Matters

An EVSE has to offer flexible charging speeds to accommodate different types of EVs as well as user preferences. Then there’s the performance of the EV charging station display itself. When the user wants to modify the charging performance, the interface needs to be responsive enough to make that happen. GUI code that has been optimized for the display hardware makes graphics perform more smoothly. Testing that code on production-intent hardware ensures that the display is adequately responsive to touch.

Inform and Entertain

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that a fully electric vehicle might take 4-10 hours to gain a full charge from Level 2 charging. This speed makes it more suitable for locations where the driver spends significant time, like home or the workplace. DC Fast Charging (DCFC) is more ideal for high-traffic areas and road trip stops. DCFC might get an electric vehicle to an 80% charge in just 20 minutes to one hour.

In any case, drivers and passengers often have time to kill at the charging station. OTA updates enable a variety of informational and entertaining content. Drivers and passengers may wish to play audio and video without using battery power from their vehicles or devices. Alternatively, users might want quick information about area restaurants, lodging or entertainment.

The EVSE display might also show stats and graphics that gamify the experience. Guest books and driver networks inspire engagement. They also give drivers additional reasons to choose one charging station over another. Capturing a user base also creates opportunities to sell ads, including offers for nearby businesses.

Choose the Right Hardware

Selecting versatile hardware will give the EV charging station greater compatibility and connectivity. The hardware has to be able to support the graphical features of the GUI and run at top performance. At the same time, identifying favorable target hardware goes a long way toward controlling costs.

Getting Started with EV Charging Station Display Design

Ultimately, users have a significant say in which businesses will win market share within the growing EV charging industry. A thoughtful display can enhance the experience of using public charging stations and Level 2 home charging. For more information, visit www.altia.com.