Thanks for joining us for another episode in the I Speak Electric Series! Today we’re going to hit the pause button and take stock of where we are with EV charging in the year 2021.
Where we’ve come from
It’s worth taking a step back for a moment and reminding people that the notion of an EV is not new. In fact, we’ve had electric vehicles since the late 1800s. And there were even fleets of ‘handsomes’, or ‘taxis’ to you and me, around at that time. EVs were easier to start and drive…no cranking to get the engine going, and no stubborn gear shifts!
Fast Charging Cars
But these days, technology has advanced at a rapid pace, and we no longer are surprised at a car that can cover 400 km without stopping and recharge at a rate above 200kW.
Most EVs will take 7 kW on an AC charger at home. And the latest cars coming out this year will take upwards of that. Even the trusty Zoe will take 22k W. And if you want more information on that, have a look back at our ABC of EVs series.
But the real fun is happening in DC charging. Going beyond 50 kW was impressive a few short years ago. Today, we’re only impressed by something like the Tesla Model 3 or the Hyundai IONIQ5 taking around 230 kW. But things won’t stop there. US customers are eagerly awaiting the Hummer EV, which has a gigantic battery of around 200 kWh, and charging speeds in excess of 300 kW. Even today, Electric ferries with batteries over 1 MW make these charge speeds look puny!
High Powered Units
But a battery accepting a lot of energy is only one half of the puzzle. Of course, you need the chargers to give you that power. The latest units being rolled out in the likes of motorway services stations offer up to 350 kW. And we are seeing chargers like this in hubs now, with multiple units capable of recharging cars in minutes. And to feed hubs of high-powered chargers we need a robust grid that can deliver a gigantic amount of power to one site.
Charging in Motorsport
Let’s take a look at the motorsport arena. Now any of us into motorsport over the years have seen hugely impressive technology in sports like Formula 1, and then a few short years later noticed it being rolled out in passenger cars around the world.
Well, we can now watch some captivating pure-electric motorsports. Take the example of Extreme E, a new racing series featuring powerful off-roading SUVs. The twin motors have peak power output of 400 kW drawn from 54 kWh battery packs. These cars race, as the name suggests, in some extreme conditions around the world. But the point is that the technology is being pushed and developed in terms of harnessing the energy and then charging these vehicles in extreme and quite remote circumstances.
Let’s bring things back from the Extreme E circuits now and look at the cars that you and I can drive…or at least aspire to drive at some point in our lives! Yes, let’s take a look at charging networks. We bring it up because of how crucial they are to enabling mass electric mobility.
Take the success of Tesla to date. There’s no doubt that they make energy-efficient cars with excellent software. But one of their best attributes is the Supercharger network. They are very user-friendly…you just plug in and walk away. They always work, and they are located in convenient locations and have superb coverage…not everywhere…but still very good! Charging networks like this will make it easy to drive across continents, and leave people with the sense of freedom that the car can bring.
Cost – Policies and Economics
So far, we’ve talked about individual cars, charging solutions, and advances in technology. And as much as you and I love our EVs, the push for greater electrification in transport demands the support of governments and forward-thinking companies around the world.
It’s obvious to us that EVs are just better, and they are more efficient and cheaper to run. But we also need the support of governments to roll out charging networks, to encourage hotels, cinemas, shopping centres to install banks of chargers for customers.
Let’s finish on a note that views EVs and charging as part of a larger ecosystem. Today, our EVs have become more than a means of private transportation. We need EV charging to serve a bigger purpose. We can charge school buses with green energy at night to balance the grid, and maybe even feedback energy at peak times. We need products like the JuiceLamp that is not just a streetlight but houses 2x22AC EV chargers, adaptive lighting, traffic cameras, environmental monitors, and connectivity.
The progress to date and in 2021 has been hugely exciting, but there is so much more to come!
So that’s enough for us for today. As always, we want to hear more from you! What do you make of the state of EV charging in 2021? Is it good enough? What technology are we sorely lacking? If you think it’s poor, what’s stopping progress?
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