By Jeff Wolfe, Americas President, Tritium*
The United States has been slow to adopt electric vehicles (EVs) compared to the rest of the world. While California leads the way in the US, with EVs making up perhaps 5% of new vehicle sales, 58% of new car sales in Norway were EVs, and other nations across Europe are well on the path towards EVs being the norm rather than the exception. This is driven by a mix of incentives and initiatives from governments and the private sector alike.
Why the difference? Aside from different government incentives and mandates, Americans demand the freedom to jump in their cars whenever they want and take off on a 500 mile road trip, even though the average daily commute is around 30 miles. They can do this with traditional petroleum-fueled cars with gas stations ubiquitous along our highways and within cities, but they don’t see the same infrastructure in place for EV charging. They fear being stuck on the road, with no place to charge, and therefore do not consider an EV even for their normal around-town driving.
But for Americans living in apartment blocks, even driving around town in an EV presents a challenge, as they likely do not have access to a home charger or wall socket in their parking garage or on the street – so an EV is all but out of the question.
To address these concerns, what is needed is a rollout of publicly available charging infrastructure — and Americans need charge times faster than they can receive when plugging their EVs in at home.
Thankfully, the future is here: recent advances in charger technologies mean that drivers are capable of adding up to 220 miles of range to their EV in just 10 minutes. Far from being some speck on the distant horizon, that technology is available now, waiting to be rolled out so Americans can jump in their EVs and take that spur-of-the-moment 500-mile trip.
And one only has to look to Europe to see this infrastructure changing the shape of highways across the continent, and the automotive market with it.
The IONITY network – a joint venture between BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche – has begun rolling out this ultra-fast charging infrastructure across Europe, with a planned 400 sites across the continent featuring 350kW DC high-power chargers and many of these chargers capable of scaling in the future to 475kW to cater to the future evolution of the batteries in the next wave of EVs. Tritium is responsible for providing equipment to over half of this network.
It’s worth looking at all the various charging options to get a sense about how much range you can add during a 10-minute charge session. We like to speak in terms of how many miles you can add to a car in 10 minutes, since that is the time people are used to stopping for a short errand or at a convenience store, using the baseline charge time of 10 minutes.
At a 350kW DC high-power Tritium/IONITY charging stop, drivers can add 220 miles of range in 10 minutes of charging. If that charger is scaled to the 475kW setting, possible with some chargers, we are suddenly looking at charge times faster than the gas station experience of today; nearly 300 miles in just 10 minutes.
For comparison, plugging into a household power socket to charge an EV would add just over one mile every 10 minutes, while a purpose-built home EV charger can add about 4.5 miles of range per 10 minutes.
These 350 kW high-power chargers being rolled out across the highways of Europe have effectively unlocked the roads for EV drivers, enabling true driving freedom while future-proofing the network for the next wave of EVs. Now, some automotive manufacturers are looking to phase out internal-combustion engine manufacturing in the very near future, having seen the benefits of EVs and the interest in them from the public.
We need to roll out fast and ultra-fast charging infrastructure across America to similarly eliminate range anxiety for current and potential EV owners. If people want to get into their electric cars whenever they want to go wherever they want, they will need chargers dotted across our highways in the way gas pumps currently are. We need to ensure that Americans don’t have to vary from their current habits – and they do not have to if we roll out the right infrastructure.
This could involve the increased deployment of advanced 50kW DC fast chargers – at that power level, drivers can add 30 miles of range every 10 minutes. This can be supplemented by DC high power chargers at a setting of at least 175kW (110 miles per 10 minutes) to ensure these chargers are installed along our highways quickly and efficiently, while enabling the networks to scale in the future towards that 475kW range.
We not only need to remove the barriers to electric vehicle sales but also need to remove the misperceptions around electric vehicles. Range anxiety is an impediment to driving and energy freedom, and it is holding America back. This will change once the infrastructure is in place and available for all – and with the removal of those barriers, we will begin to see that a future of zero emissions mobility is just around the corner.
About the Author: Jeff Wolfe is President, Americas for Tritium, a technology company that designs and manufactures the world’s most advanced DC fast-charging equipment for electric vehicles.
Jeff and Tritium’s CEO and co-founder, David Finn, will attend the upcoming ACT Expo in Long Beach, California, from April 23-26. David will be part of a panel session “Assessing the Future of EV Battery Technologies” from 1PM on April 23.
*This post was sponsored by Tritium US. Images are from the company.