Jérôme Faissat, co-founder, Andersen
Look back ten or even five years and although there was an acceptance that EVs may one day become mainstream, few predicted a rapid rise.
In 2010, only around 100 EVs were sold in the US, yet by 2017 over 200,000 were sold. Research suggests that by 2030 there will by 500 million EVs worldwide and that, given the exponential growth rate so far, even that figure may be an underestimation.
In fairness to the naysayers, there are some underlying issues surrounding the infrastructure that are slowing down the widespread adoption of EVs.
The biggest issue currently facing the EV market is availability of charge points. A unanimously shared pain point amongst all drivers who question how far they can drive before they’re in danger of getting stranded.
Given the rapid speed at which the EV market is evolving and the issues still facing mass-adoption, what will the future of EV charge points look like?
Rapid Increase in Charge Points
EVs are still rather limited in terms of range, maxing out at around 240 miles on a single charge. We need to see an increase in commercial charge points for those driving long distances.
Governments and private businesses are on the case. The European Union wants charge point facilities to be available in new residential and commercial buildings and governments, such as the UK, are providing consumer subsidies for charge points. The UK government recently unveiled plans to become a world-leader in low-emission tech at the world’s first Zero Emissions Vehicle Summit.
Interestingly Nissan estimates that the number of charge points will overtake petrol stations by August 2020, owing to both the decline in petrol stations and the increase in charging points. And, over the next two years, you’d be hard-pushed to find any car manufacturer that isn’t unveiling their hybrid or electric vehicles.
The variety of charge points is also increasing. EV customers and businesses now have a choice, albeit limited, between a range of functional, utilitarian charge points and more aesthetically-pleasing options.
Improved Charging Speed and Batteries
A few years ago, it would take several hours to fully charge an EV. That’s clearly far too long for drivers to spend in a service station.
Now, with Three-Phase chargers, most modern EVs can charge to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.
With improvements to both battery and charge point design, this will drop rapidly over the coming years to be on a par with the time it takes to fill the tank of a petrol car. Manufacturers are looking at solid-state batteries using graphene as a potential solution, and, meantime, we expect a graphene/lithium-ion hybrid to increase the range and charging speed of EV batteries.
Battery efficiency will be matched by improvements to charging points, allowing far more voltage to be run from the charge point. This will provide rapid charging of much higher capacity batteries, which in turn will minimise range anxiety.
More Power Sources
Along with improvements in battery and charge point design, there will be a significant shift towards diversifying the sources of power for EVs. I don’t expect any of these alternatives to provide all of the power needed to charge an EV, but if each one contributes a little to the charge of the vehicle, it will keep them going longer between stops at charge points.
Solar panels, otherwise known as photovoltaics (PV), have already become much more efficient. Increasingly they will be seen on the roofs of EVs, helping boost the car’s energy as it drives.
Another source of energy will be under our roads, charging EVs as we drive. As early as 2015, the UK government was testing charge-and-drive solutions for buses, providing a small amount of charge at each stop to keep EV buses operating their entire route. The same approach could be used at traffic lights or on stretches of motorways to boost energy for EVs.
Some suggest that the rise of autonomous vehicles will signal the end of car ownership as we book and even share autonomous vehicles.
While this seems inevitable with the amount of money Uber and Google are ploughing into the technology, I still think there will be a place for personal vehicles and family cars, particularly for long holiday trips.
I think personal autonomous vehicles will make use of wireless charge points, which will become the new standard for EV charging. Wireless charge points use induction to charge the vehicle from underneath, eliminating the need for a human operator to plug them in.
So, your autonomous EV will be able to drive itself to a charge point while you’re shopping or seeing sights on holiday, wait there until it’s fully charged or needed again, and then drive itself back.
Looking ahead the future of the EV charge point market is very exciting. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace that these future predictions may even arrive much earlier than anticipated. But as cities become increasingly congested and pollution skyrockets further, there will be considerable pressure on this technology to develop and evolve – giving us all a healthier, greener and more sustainable future.
About the Author
Jérôme Faissat is co-founder of Andersen, makers of premium electric vehicle (EV) charging points. Timeless design, hand styling, superior quality and the latest technology are all key to every Andersen EV charging point.