Sometimes there can be some confusion about the difference between the terms EV Charge Point Operator (EV CPO) and Electro mobility service provider (EMSP).
Short answer: They are partners. The EV CPO builds and maintains the EV charging network. The EMSP manages the business side of EV Charging by dealing with customers and monetizing EV charging under his own brand.
Read on for a more detailed look into the differences, partnerships, and responsibilities of EV CPO and EMSP.
Read also: What is the difference between Charge Point Operator and Charge Point Owner?
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What is an EV Charge Point Operator (EV CPO)?
The EV Charge Point Operator (EV CPO) is the company who builds an EV charging network. Or, to clarify, they set up charging stations on-site and connect them to the charging network and power grid.
They can independently plan and execute the project or employ outsourced EV charging station contractors to install all the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) needed. After installing the EVSE hardware, the CPO installs the firmware on charging stations.
The Charge Point Operator (EV CPO) is an important link in the e-Mobility chain of roles since it ensures optimal ongoing EV charging operations.
The EV CPO focuses on operational excellence, smart energy management, monitoring and control, scalability, and interoperability. It looks after charging hardware and backend operations’ provided it has the right EV charging station management system.
The EV CPO must ensure the compatibility of its EV charging infrastructure with necessary protocols like OCPP, OCPI, and ISO 15118. With that, he can ensure advanced charging functions like Smart EV charging, Plug and Charge, or V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology are supported. All of this combined ensures communications run smoothly.
CPO monetizes his role by having Electro mobility service providers (EMSP) as his customers or by being EMSP himself.
What is an Electro mobility service provider (EMSP)?
The most important link in the e-Mobility chain is the Electro mobility service provider or EMSP. This company brings EV Charging directly to the consumers – the electric vehicle drivers.
The EMSP, like any other business, enters the market to find customers, provide them with an excellent customer experience, and monetize on it, aka earning revenue.
In the business project planning phase, the EMSP must evaluate all the available EV charging solutions and select the best fit for his charging network.
An important part of the EV charging software is a white-label EV charging app that the EMSP will customize with its logo and according to its brand identity.
Read our EMSP guide on how to choose the right EV charging platform.
The EMSP applies its own branding to the charging station network. That means that the users will see his logo on the charging stations, the charging app, invoices, and anything else related to the end-user, the customer.
This is the crucial step since EV Charging Software is the most critical factor for all further operations of the EV charging network.
The primary role of EMSP is to make life easier for EV drivers. He does this by offering EV charging at its stations, providing a seamless charging experience, and managing all aspects of charging and billing the customers. For a more detailed look into how EMSP sets price tariffs, pricing plans, subscriptions, what EV business models they can run, and how to monetize on it, read our blog on EV Billing.
An EMSP must provide EV drivers with an excellent customer experience (CX). One of the essential elements of this is providing access to as many own charging points and further eliminating the range anxiety of EV drivers by implementing EV Charging roaming.
Of course, EV CPO must assist them with the EV charging network operating flawlessly.
What is an EV Charge Point Owner?
Because of the same acronym (CPO), some confuse Charge Point Operators and Charge Point Owners.
They are not, at least not in some cases.
- The land on which EV charging stations stand is owned by the land owner.
- The person or company who invests in buying the charging station and in its setup on-site is the Charge Point Owner.
- The company that manages the station (or stations) and sells its services to EMSP is the Charge Point Operator.
- A company can have all these roles, or every role can be a different company or a mix of roles.
When an EV CPO is mentioned in anything regarding EV Charging, we mean the Charge Point Operator.
EV CPO acronym stands for Charge Point Operator, not Charge Point Owner!
EV CPO vs EMSP
Even in circles close to EV Charging, the two terms, EV CPO and EMSP, get confused. The Electro mobility service provider and the Charge Point Operator are two critical and interrelated components of EV Charging.
But what exactly is the difference, and what are the responsibilities that set them apart?
A Charge Point Operator (EV CPO) is the one that physically sets up the stations. Then he will get them to a state where they are ready to operate. In today’s age, it’s almost a norm they install smart charging stations. The Electro mobility service provider then connects the stations to his Smart EV Charging software or Charging management system. Consequently, from that moment on, the EMSP is in charge of “taking care of business” under his brand. The EV CPO will only monitor and maintain the charging network so all is running smoothly.
The EMPS is creating revenue from various EV Charging business models. He can earn revenue directly from charging or indirectly from other connected services (hotels, restaurants, stores,…). The EV CPO only creates revenue by charging the EMSP for its services.
100 years ago when radio was “a new technology”, a CPO would be a company that build and maintained radio antennas and with them cover different areas to provide public with radio signals.
The EMSP would be the radio station. He would run the “brand”, make content, attract people, and earn revenue, a part of which he would pay back to the CPO.
It’s the same today, only with different technology.
Can an EV CPO also be EMSP?
An EV CPO becomes an EMSP if he actively promotes his EV Charging network and starts to “sell EV Charging” directly to the EV drivers or companies (EV fleet).
In fact, it is logical for some big companies to be in both roles. Shell, for example, is both the CPO and EMSP. The company manages its charging network and, at the same time, provides EV charging services to end-users.
Many predict that in the future, the EV Charging business will consolidate. Large EV Charging companies (EMSP) will acquire smaller ones or push them out of the market. In the end, the EV charging market will be dominated by only a few Electro mobility service providers (EMSP).
Also, many companies want to install charging stations. They may need them for their employees, EV fleet management, or customers. An interesting option for them is to use EV Charging as a service (EV Caas) instead of investing in their own charging stations.
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