Fleet News

When will EV charging be as quick as a visit to the petrol station?

Kyle Pennell content manager at PowerScout

After decades of dithering, automakers are finally starting to plan for sustainability. Last year, for instance, Ford and GM announced dramatic expansions in their electric vehicle selections.

Both companies will offer over 20 EVs by 2023.

Tesla is working hard to overcome production bottlenecks in an effort to meet its manufacturing target of half a million cars per year.

Much of the growth in the EV industry is due to pressure from China, which has one of the world’s most aggressive auto emissions standards.

If manufacturers want to continue selling in China, electric vehicles must account for 10% of their new car sales next year and 12% of new car sales in 2020.

EVs boast numerous advantages over fossil fuel powered vehicles. They’re quieter and - thanks to fuel savings - far more affordable over the long term. Most importantly, they’re far cleaner than regular vehicles.

But EV charging times - the length of time it takes for the vehicle to replenish its battery - still pose a substantial technical challenge. Most EVs need to be plugged in overnight to achieve a full charge by the next day.

The Tesla Roadster, however, has a charging time of just 3.5 hours if it’s charged at a 220-volt charging station.

And even newer technology from Tesla and Nissan can charge their respective EVs to 80% of their maximum capacities in just half an hour.

Still, 30 minutes is a lot longer than the minute or two it takes to fill-up a regular vehicle. If EVs are to completely supplant fossil fuel-powered vehicles, they’ll need to reduce charge times even further.

To achieve faster EV charge times, manufacturers will need to develop more efficient electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE), the charging stations that facilitate battery recharge.

However, faster charging stations don’t always necessarily translate directly to faster charge times.

EV power acceptance rates are also a factor. In some cases, even if you link your EV to a charging station that provides so-called “DC fast charging” current - the fastest charging level available - your vehicle might not be able to accept all the incoming energy.

Improving energy acceptance rates, therefore, could substantially improve charging times.

And while it won’t fix the charge time problem, EV manufacturers could render charge times less important by improving battery capacities. Batteries that can store more energy will not need to be charged as frequently.

The same effect could be achieved by producing more energy-efficient cars - that is, EVs that are lighter or more streamlined, and thus capable of traveling further on a full charge.

By Kyle Pennell content manager at PowerScout

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