Industrial Automation

The Future of EV Charging Infrastructure: Challenges of Deploying at Scale

Mike Fisher and Rick Pennavaria

More electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the road every month. Currently, there are an estimated 3 million electric cars on U.S. roadways (1% of total traffic), but environmental concerns, improved battery capacity and the potential to reduce gas costs are driving consumer demand higher. S&P Global Mobility forecasts U.S. EV sales to hit 40% of total passenger car sales within as few as seven years. 


This acceleration means that more charging station infrastructure will be needed to keep these cars moving when they’re away from home. 


Today, depending on where you’re located, it can be difficult to find a station to recharge an EV—but that will soon change. The U.S. Department of Energy says there are tens of thousands of chargers available in key areas of the country as a supplement to residential charging right now. But with a growing interest in EVs, plus the federal government’s funding commitment through programs like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that more than 1.3 million EV chargers will be deployed across the United States in the coming years. 


These chargers will start to appear in places like retail centers, airports, downtown districts, college campuses, workplaces, restaurants and even new charging stations along highways. 

An inside look at EV chargers and how they communicate

EV chargers are a great example of the ultimate IoT device. Lots of intelligence is required to support their capabilities and performance levels.


On one end of the charger is the power grid, which feeds electricity to the charger. On the other end is an electric car being charged. And in between is where all the fun stuff happens!


What’s going on inside an EV charger—and why does it matter?


Several devices and components work hard to support specific purposes within the charger and make sure it functions as expected: 

  • A device to manage power 
  • A device to complete payment transactions (credit card, tap-to-pay or something else) 
  • A device to display content like advertising or policy information 
  • An on-board controller to manage everything 

These devices all need to talk to one another inside the charger, and some need the capability to talk to an outside system as well. For example, the device that handles payments must be able to validate the user’s bank information or subscription membership before power is allowed to flow.


This means that, in addition to the cabling itself, a managed network complete with a WAN connection and remote access capabilities is a must to provide the connectivity that these systems need.


While older-style EV chargers may rely on discrete I/O control to accomplish some of this communication, newer units incorporate intelligence into the process by using Ethernet systems to communicate. A managed Ethernet network provides:

  • A reliable infrastructure for the onboard systems to communicate with
  • Cellular options for WAN connectivity 
  • Secure VPN access for remote interactions with the systems 


As more chargers are deployed, the amount of data traffic they generate increases as well. When multiple chargers are installed in a single location (a shopping mall parking lot, for example), it’s most efficient to feed that traffic through a single connection linked to a backend system vs. attempting an individual communication with each charger. A well-designed network can accommodate this without sacrificing its cybersecurity posture.  

Deploying chargers at scale: remote and secure connectivity matter

As chargers are deployed at scale, remote support will become critical to maintaining excellent customer service. 

It won’t be practical for manufacturers or distributors to send technicians out to individual chargers to troubleshoot, resolve issues or conduct preventive maintenance. Managing this work remotely saves time and money.


But remote connectivity can expose potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities if done incorrectly. Selecting secure remote solutions and services to support EV charging stations is vital to protecting data, such as users’ personal information and company records, not to mention ensuring asset uptime.


Making sure that this available and secure connection remains persistent is also important. In most WAN connections, including cellular connections, you don’t own IP addresses. The IP address is assigned to the gateway when it connects (and periodically thereafter). The dynamic nature of the address makes it difficult for distributed systems to interact.


That’s where a solution like the Persistent Data Network (PDN) from Belden Horizon comes into play. It provides a neutral ground for end devices to securely connect to a common point. This reduces the need for unsecured messaging and manually created VPN connections between a cloud system and every charger in the network. As you can imagine, once hundreds or thousands of chargers appear across a city, state, country or continent, a manual approach quickly becomes unsustainable and impractical.


Belden’s automotive team can help you deploy EV charging station infrastructure securely and at scale so you can confidently support remote monitoring and management to maximize efficiency and provide excellent support. Have questions about EV charging planning or infrastructure? Reach out to our automotive experts



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