How EMSPs and CPOs Collaborate to Fuel the EV Revolution
Just as electric vehicles are sending shockwaves throughout the automotive world, the opportunities for the businesses supporting them are in the midst of a massive expansion. Two of the first terms a new EV driver or enthusiast is likely to come across are e-mobility service provider (EMSP) and charge point operator (CPO).
In the ever-growing EV charging infrastructure, CPOs and EMSPs play critical roles in getting drivers the power they need to stay on the move. Below, we’ll take a look at what these types of companies do and how they impact the transition to eco-friendly travel. Let’s dive in.
What Is a CPO?
A charge point operator, or CPO, is a company that builds EV charging stations, installs charging points, links them to a charging network and the local power grid, and operates them.
It’s common to confuse charge point operators with charge point owners. Aside from the shared acronym, these two types of companies have very different roles: Whereas a CPO operates charging infrastructure, the owner is the financial backer behind the construction and maintenance of a network. CPOs are instead treated as contractors who perform services for owners.
Responsibilities and Roles
CPOs are responsible for the routine operation of charging points and stations. Some of the duties they assume include:
- Planning and executing the construction of new charging stations
- Installing charge points and carrying out upgrades to the equipment
- On-site and remote maintenance and troubleshooting
- Collecting and compiling charge point data, such as peak period usage and pricing
- Maintaining and operating charging station management software
- Carrying out remote system diagnostics to keep the infrastructure in optimal working order
In addition to these essential services, a CPO may carry out other tasks, such as negotiating power supplies with local energy providers for resale to EV drivers.
What Is an EMSP?
An e-mobility service provider is responsible for handling the business side of an EV charging network. EMSPs work with CPOs to understand the capabilities of their equipment, market their services to drivers, and establish and maintain branding. In other words, when you pay to power up at a public charging station, you’re paying the EMSP.
EMSPs are also responsible for developing and deploying mobile applications, RFID keys, and software platforms to help drivers locate and use available charging points in a CPO’s network. These products also enable drivers to pay for charging, manage their charging history, and monitor the progress of charging sessions.
Responsibilities and Roles
Because EMSPs are in charge of the business aspects of a charging service, they’re more public-facing and have different duties from CPOs. Their primary responsibility is to provide service users with the means to pay for charging and to help them find available charging points.
EMSPs generally only serve registered customers, but they may be required to serve unregistered drivers according to federal, state, or local laws. For example, EMSPs operating on federal property are required to serve drivers who fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act regardless of their registration status.
An EMSP may also offer roaming services, connecting drivers to third-party charging networks to give their customers as broad a geographical range as possible. This can be particularly helpful when making long journeys that will take you outside of your normal service area.
How CPOs and EMSPs Combine to Serve Customers
The relationship between a CPO and an EMSP can be summed up this way: the CPO is responsible for the technical and physical aspects of EV charging, such as installing and operating charging points. An EMSP is what you, as a customer, will interact with when signing up for an ongoing charging service and making use of that service.
Both an EMSP and a CPO will sign contracts with a charge point owner, but all three can sometimes overlap or combine. Shell, for instance, is a notable example of a company acting as both CPO and EMSP, as they handle both the customer experience aspects and the hands-on maintenance side of their charging network.
Private companies and public organizations may also work with both EMSPs and CPOs if they want to install charging infrastructure on their premises. Many hospitals, universities, and businesses, for example, will work with both types of companies to set up on-site charging points for visitors and employees to use.
So, there you have it: an EMSP handles the business aspects of charging, while a CPO ensures the charging equipment is ready to use at a moment’s notice. While individual companies will differ, this is what helps you, as a driver, get the power when you need it most.