What is a Charge Point Operator (CPO)?

Charge Point Operators (CPOs) are key players in the shift from mobility to electric mobility (e-mobility) and the growth of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.  A Charge Point Operator builds EV charging systems, installs EV charging stations, and maintains them. A CPO may own or operate their own EV charging stations or install and maintain them for a third party. An e-mobility service provider (EMSP) is a company that provides EV charging stations to drivers and maintains business relationships with them. EMSPs are also important in the expansion of EV infrastructure. Learn more about charge point operators and e-mobility service providers in this quick read!

What Does a Charge Point Operator Do? 

A CPO ensures the EV charging stations it operates are operational, maintained, and readily available for electric car drivers at all times. An EV Charge Point Operator should provide stable EV charging systems today and future-proof for the certain expansion of EV infrastructure tomorrow while ensuring the scalability of EV charging stations.

A CPO needs to provide a smart charging management platform to help lower the total cost of ownership (TCO). Smart charging management tools and solutions include ways of improving EV charging energy demand during peak hours, energy storage systems to help save on energy costs, and making future-proofing a necessary step when installing EV charging stations. 

What should Charge Point Operators (CPOs) care about?

CPOs should desire to make EV charging a smooth experience for EV drivers now and in the future.

Charge Point Operators should focus on ways to maximize profitability for the EMSP, optimize charging speeds for drivers, and ensure all EV drivers charging in one area are satisfied with power output. While power capacity is something that usually cannot be controlled once an EV charging system has been installed, a CPO can provide load balancing and low-peak electricity use options. This includes power distribution based on total power capacity and patterns of other sources of energy consumption and energy storage options. 

Charge Point Operators vs Charge Point Owners

Charge Point Operators provide EV charging infrastructure, while Charge Point Owners own the charging infrastructure. Sometimes Charge Point Operators are also Charge Point Owners. 

What is an e-mobility service provider (EMSP)?

AN EMSP provides a seamless EV charging experience for EV drivers which includes helping them locate the chargers, ensuring they’re encouraged to follow electric car etiquette, and providing payment methods. 

An EMSP should have clear markings and signage for each EV charging station location. This helps EV drivers find EV chargers without issue and start their charging sessions quickly. 

Electric vehicle charging etiquette includes charging for only as long as is needed, charging only when needed, and ensuring charging cords are stored away properly once a charging session is completed. Oftentimes, EV drivers consider parking in electric vehicle charging spots without actually needing a charge because they want to take advantage of parking at the best spots in the lot.

An EMSP should provide a variety of payment options so an EV driver won’t have an issue when it comes to paying for their charging session. Payment options include RFID cards, charge cards, subscription payment models, digital payment through a mobile app, or a digital withdrawal from a pre-established account. 

What does an e-mobility service provider do?

An electric mobility service provider will work on meeting the charging needs of EV drivers, set pricing, and work to make EV charging an enjoyable experience for EV owners. 

EMSPs usually strive to set fair pricing that also enforces good charging etiquette. 

There are several ways EMSPs can set prices for charging:

  • Volume-based fee (per Kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity delivered)
  • Individual charging session fee (a flat fee for each charging session)
  • Duration-based fee (per minute or hour of charging)
  • Advertising revenue (EMSP collects advertising revenue from companies that advertise on screens at stations EV drivers view while waiting for their cars to charge)

What should an e-mobility service provider care about?

An EMSP should focus on improving the EV driver experience. This could be through roaming features, access to EV charging point data, providing a variety of EV charging station types, or offering loyalty rewards.

An EMSP can opt to participate in a roaming agreement to expand the number of public EV charging points available through its network. Roaming can be accomplished by a peer-to-peer connection or roaming hubs. The main reason why customers like EMSP with roaming features is it gives them more locations to charge at and for a similar rate they’re used to with their current EMSP.

An EMSP should share real-time electric vehicle charging station data with its customers. This data should include the state of charge, EV charging station type, supported plug types, pricing model, and expected charge time. This is an important feature that drivers often look for when they are charging at a public charging point. Real-time station data helps EV owners plan out how to occupy their time while waiting for their EVs to charge. 

An EMSP can keep customers happy by providing different levels of charging. EV drivers need access to both Level 2 and DC fast chargers. For example, EV owners may be content with charging at a moderate speed when they plan to run errands, shop, or watch a movie while their cars are charging but want faster charging rates when they are driving long distances or only have time for quick stops. 

Loyalty rewards an EMSP can offer include discounts to local retail stores near public charging points, a frequent charging point system that offers redemption points for merchandise or discounts, or subscription pricing for drivers that charge with the same EMSP network often.

What is the difference between an e-mobility service provider and charge point operator?

An EV Charge Point Operator focuses on providing tools for an e-mobility service provider to have operational EV chargers, while an e-mobility service provider focuses on offering the best EV charging experience for its customers. Without CPOs or EMSPs, an EV owner would not be able to charge in a public setting and there would be no US EV charging network. 

A CPO could also take on the role of an EMSP or vice versa. 

Find what you need as an EMSP with WattLogic

Setting up EV charging stations and finding ways to tools to keep EV drivers coming back can be expensive and confusing without the right help. 

WattLogic is a CPO that provides turnkey EV charging solutions for EMSPs that are affordable and hassle-free. WattLogic’s turnkey solutions include EV charger selection, design and build, project management, rebate management, installation,  EV charging hardware and software, and management tools. With WattLogic’s EV Charging as a Service option, you won’t have to worry about huge upfront costs. Find out how much your EV charging stations will cost by using our EV Charger Cost Estimator.