FRANKFURT (Reuters) – BMW and Jaguar Land Rover on Wednesday said they will jointly develop electric motors, transmissions and power electronics, unveiling yet another industry alliance designed to lower the costs of developing electric cars.
Both carmakers are under pressure to roll out zero-emission vehicles to meet stringent anti-pollution rules, but have struggled to maintain profit margins faced with the rising costs of making electric, connected and autonomous cars.
“Together, we have the opportunity to cater more effectively for customer needs by shortening development time and bringing vehicles and state-of-the-art technologies more rapidly to market,” said BMW board member Klaus Froehlich.
BMW and Jaguar Land Rover said they will save costs through shared development, production planning and joint purchasing of electric car components. Both companies will produce electric drivetrains in their own manufacturing facilities, BMW said.
The BMW Jaguar Land Rover pact comes as rivals Fiat Chrysler and Renault explore a $35 billion tie-up of the Italian-American and French car making groups.
Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering director said, “We’ve proven we can build world beating electric cars but now we need to scale the technology to support the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover products.
BMW was in talks with rival Daimler about developing electric car components but was also in discussions with Jaguar Land Rover, a company it once owned, to explore an alliance on engines.
BMW already has a deal to supply an 8 cylinder engine to Jaguar Land Rover.
Carmakers are increasingly open to sharing electric car parts because the technology is expensive and because customers no longer buy a car based on what engine a vehicle has.
“Carmakers are much less precious about sharing electric car technology because it is much harder to create product differentiation with electric car tech. They all accelerate fast, and everybody can do quality and ride and handling,” according to Carl-Peter Forster a former chief executive of Tata Motors and a former BMW executive.
Jaguar Land Rover is still run by former BMW managers, including Ralf Speth the company’s chief executive who spent 20 years at BMW prior to joining JLR, and Wolfgang Ziebart, the engineer who oversaw Jaguar’s iPace electric car program, who is a former head of research and development at BMW.
Jaguar Land Rover said it would redouble efforts to cut costs after it posted a $4 billion loss earlier this year, hit by a downturn in demand for sports utility vehicles in China and a regulatory clampdown on diesel emissions.
BMW bought Britain’s Rover Group, which included the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, for 800 million pounds in 1994 only to sell Jaguar Land Rover to Ford in March 2000 for $2.7 billion. In 2008 India’s Tata Group bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford for $2.3 billion.
*** This article appeared in TESLARATI and was re-posted in Fully Charged. We have Followed and Written a LOT about the ‘Coming EV Revolution’, about Advances in Charging Stations and Battery Technology. Most recently we posted an article ‘What If Green Energy Isn’t the Future?’
So maybe … just maybe, ‘Green Energy’ might NOT be able to meet the current Projected Carbon Fuel Replacement Schedule …. However, could the EV/ Hydrogen Fuel Cell Revolution replace forever the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)? (Hint: We Think So!)
Let Us Know What YOU think! Leave us your thoughts and comments. (below)
Headed by vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, the electric car revolution is showing no signs of stopping. The auto landscape today is very different from what it was years ago. Before, only Tesla and a few automakers were pushing electric cars, and the Model S was proving to the industry that EVs could be objectively better than internal combustion vehicles. Today, practically every automaker has plans to release electric cars. EV startup Bollinger Motors CEO Robert Bollinger summed it up best: “If you want to start a (car company) now, it has to be electric.”
CATALYSTS FOR A TRANSITION
A critical difference between then and now is that veteran automakers today are coming up with decent electric vehicles. No longer were EVs glorified golf carts and compliance cars; today’s electric vehicles are just as attractive, sleek, and powerful than their internal combustion peers. The auto industry has warmed up to electric vehicles as well. The Jaguar I-PACE has been collecting awards left and right since its release, and more recently, the Kia Niro EV was dubbed by Popular Mechanics as the recipient of its Car of the Year award.
A survey by CarGurus earlier this year revealed that 34% of car buyers are open to purchasing an electric car within the next ten years. A survey among young people in the UK last year revealed even more encouraging results, with 50% of respondents stating that they want electric cars. Amidst the disruption being brought about by the Tesla Model 3, which has all but dominated EV sales since production ramped last year, experienced automakers have responded in kind. Volkswagen recently debuted the ID.3, Audi has the e-tron, Hyundai has the Kona EV, and Mercedes-Benz has the EQC. Even Porsche, a low-volume car manufacturer, is attracting the high-end legacy market with the Taycan.
At this point, it appears that Tesla’s mission is going well underway. With the market now open to the idea of electric vehicles, there is an excellent chance that EV adoption will only increase from this point on.
BIG OIL FEELS A CHANGE IN THE WIND
Passenger cars are the No.1 source of demand for oil, and with the potential emergence of a transportation industry whose life and death does not rely on a gas pump, Big Oil could soon find itself on the defensive. Depending on how quickly the auto industry could shift entirely to sustainable transportation and how seriously governments handle issues like climate change, “peak oil” could happen a couple of decades or a few years from now. This could adversely affect investors in the oil industry, who might be at risk of losing their investments if peak oil happens faster than expected. JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, described this potential scenario in a statement to CNN. “Look at what happened to the coal industry. You have to keep that in the back of your mind and be vigilant. It can turn very, very quickly,” the strategist said.
Paul Sankey of Mizuho Securities previously mentioned that a “Tesla Effect” is starting to be felt in the oil markets. According to the analyst, the Tesla Effect is an increasingly prevalent concept today which states that while the 20th century was driven by oil, the 21st century will be driven by electricity. This, together with the growing movements against climate change today, does not bode well for the oil industry. Adam White, an equity strategist at SunTrust Advisory, stated that investors might not be looking at the oil market with optimism anymore. “A lot of damage has already been done. People are jaded towards the industry,” he said.
An analysis from Barclays points to the world’s reliance on oil peaking somewhere between 2030 and 2035, provided that countries keep to their low-carbon goals. The investment bank also noted that peak oil could happen as early as 2025 if more aggressive climate change initiatives are adopted on a wider scale. This all but makes investments in oil stocks very risky in the 2020s, and this risk gets amplified if electric vehicles become more mainstream. Sverre Alvik of research firm DNV GL described this concern. “By 2030, oil shareholders will feel the impact. Electric vehicles are likely to cause light vehicle oil demand to plunge by nearly 50% by 2040,” Alvik said.
Some of today’s prolific oil producers appear to be making the necessary preparations for peak oil’s inevitable decline. Amidst pressures from shareholders, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total have expanded their operations into solar, wind, and electric charging, seemingly as a means to future-proof themselves. On the flipside, there are also big oil players that are ramping their activities. Earlier this month, financial titan Warren Buffet, who recently expressed his skepticism towards Elon Musk’s plan of introducing an insurance service for Tesla’s electric cars, committed $10 billion to Occidental Petroleum, one of the largest oil and gas exploration companies in the United States.
A POINT OF NO RETURN
The auto industry is now at a point where a real transition towards electrification is happening. Tesla’s efforts over the years, from the original Roadster to the Model 3, have played a huge part in this transition. Tesla, as well as its CEO, Elon Musk, have awakened the public’s eye about the viability of electric cars, while showing the auto industry that there is a demand for good, well-designed EVs. Nevertheless, Tesla still has a long journey ahead of it, as the company ramps its activities in the energy storage sector. If Tesla Energy mobilizes and becomes as disruptive as the company’s electric car division, it would deal yet another blow to the oil industry.
At this point, it is pertinent for veteran automakers that have released their own electric cars to ensure that they do not stop. Legacy car makers had long talked the talk when it came to electric vehicles, but today, it is time to walk the walk. German automaker Volkswagen could be a big player in this transition, as hinted at by the reception of its all-electric car, the ID.3. The ID.3 launch was successful, with Volkswagen getting 10,000 preorders for the vehicle in just 24 hours. The German carmaker should see this as writing on the wall: the demand for EVs is there.
The Volkswagen ID.3 is not as quick or sleek as a Tesla Model 3, nor does it last as long on the road between charges. But considering its price point and its badge, it does not have to be. Volkswagen states that the ID.3 will be priced below 40,000 euros ($45,000) in Germany, which should make it attainable for car buyers in the country. If done right, the ID.3 could be the second coming of the Beetle, ultimately becoming a car that redeems the company from the stigma of the Dieselgate scandal. Thus, it would be a great shame if Volkswagen drops the ball on the ID.3.
Tesla will likely remain a divisive company for years to come; Elon Musk, even more so. Nevertheless, Tesla and what it stands for is slowly becoming an idea, one that connotes hope for something better and cleaner for the future. And if history’s victories and tragedies are any indication, once something becomes an idea, an intangible concept, it becomes impossible to kill.
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Mobility Disruption | Tony Seba
Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model.
Every year, Bloomberg NEF’s advanced transport team builds a bottom-up analysis of the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle and compares it to the cost of a combustion-engine vehicle of the same size. The crossover point — when electric vehicles become cheaper than their combustion-engine equivalents — will be a crucial moment for the EV market. All things being equal, upfront price parity makes a buyer’s decision to buy an EV a matter of taste, style or preference — but not, for much longer, a matter of cost.
Every year, that crossover point gets closer. In 2017, a Bloomberg NEF analysis forecast that the crossover point was in 2026, nine years out. In 2018, the crossover point was in 2024 — six years (or, as I described it then, two lease cycles) out.
The crossover point, per the latest analysis, is now 2022 for large vehicles in the European Union. For that, we can thank the incredible shrinking electric vehicle battery, which isn’t so much shrinking in size as it is shrinking — dramatically — in cost.
Analysts have for several years been using a sort of shorthand for describing an electric vehicle battery: half the car’s total cost. That figure, and that shorthand, has changed in just a few years. For a midsize U.S. car in 2015, the battery made up more than 57 percent of the total cost. This year, it’s 33 percent. By 2025, the battery will be only 20 percent of total vehicle cost.
My colleague Nikolas Soulopoulos, author of the research note, provided further insights. The first is that he expects electric vehicle chassis and body costs to drop slightly, while those same costs will rise modestly for combustion vehicles “as a result of light-weighting and other measures to help comply with emissions targets.”
Second, Soulopoulos expects bigger cost improvements in the electric powertrain, as “large-volume manufacturing is only now beginning for such parts.” By 2030, costs for motors, inverters and power electronics could be 25 to 30 percent lower than they are today.
The incredible shrinking electric vehicle battery doesn’t just mean cheaper electric passenger cars. It also means all sorts of other vehicles that weren’t previously practical to electrify now are — and beyond proof-of-concept scale, too.
Equipped with an in-house developed new charger, high-voltage converter and other devices, it offers excavation performance on par with the internal combustion model of the same power output, while achieving zero exhaust gas emissions and a dynamic reduction in noise levels. It is an environment and people-friendly machine. Komatsu expects a wider range of applications for this machine, including construction work near hospitals or schools or in residential areas, where contractors have conventionally paid special attention to exhaust gas and noise during work, as well as inside tunnels or buildings.
There are new electric vehicles at sea as well. Stena Line plans to install batteries in one of its car ferries between Sweden and Denmark, rolling out its battery systems incrementally. The first, a 1 megawatt-hour battery, will power the ship when it is maneuvering in port. The next, a 20 megawatt-hour battery, will provide power for port operations and “about 10 nautical miles” beyond. The final, a 50 megawatt-hour battery, will provide 50 nautical miles’ worth of power. “As both the size and cost of batteries decrease, battery operation becomes a very exciting alternative to traditional fuels for shipping, as emissions to air can be completely eliminated,” says Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Martensson.
Smaller EV batteries will soon be flying, too. Harbour Air Ltd., which operates 42 planes in 12 short routes in British Columbia, is adding an electric plane to its fleet. “The intent is to eventually convert the entire fleet,” says founder and CEO Greg McDougall, who offers a familiar rationale for his optimism: Ranges and capabilities “are changing very rapidly with the development of the battery technology.”
McDougall’s company is seeking approval for his plans ahead of today’s battery economics in anticipation of what’s coming. “We don’t want to be trying to get through the regulatory process after it becomes more economically viable; we want to do it now,” he says.
Nathaniel Bullard is a Bloomberg NEF energy analyst, covering technology and business model innovation and system-wide resource transitions.
BYD is theworld’s largest electric vehicle maker(membership), though its brand isn’t widely recognized outside of China. It started out as a battery maker about 25 years ago and transitioned into the car business a little more than a decade ago, making both conventional fossil fuel-powered cars and “new energy vehicles.”
The success of its first mass-produced hybrid caught the attention of legendary US investor Warren Buffett, who in 2008 bought a 10% stake in BYD for $230 million. That investment seems to be really paying off right now.
There is increased demand for electric vehicles in China, BYD says, and it expects continued growth. The company’s profits rose to about 750 million yuan ($111 million) in the first quarter, compared to 102 million yuan a year ago. BYD sold73,172 new energy vehicles(pdf) in the quarter, up 147% from the same period a year ago.
Including conventional fuel cars, it sold 73,172 vehicles in the quarter, up 5% from last year. The company is nowselling more electric vehiclesthan conventional cars.
“New energy vehicles are expected to continue to sell well in the second quarter, and new energy vehicle sales and revenues continue to maintain strong growth,” the company’s latest stock exchange filing reports.
According to Reuters, BYD expects to sell 655,000 cars in 2019, and will account for a substantial portion of the 1.6 million electric vehicle total that China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts will be sold this year.
In stark contrast to this positive news for BYD, its US rival Tesla lost nearly $700 million in the first quarter. It attributed over $120 million in losses to a higher return rate than expected after itraised pricesfor the Model S and Model X.
In its quarterly earnings call, Tesla chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn described the first quarter as “one of the most complicated… in the history of the company.”
Beyond its faltering quarterly profits, Tesla also had some bad news in China to contend with recently.
Last week, a video that circulated widely on Chinese social media showed a parked Tesla Model Sabruptly caching firein Shanghai, where the company plans to build its first overseas factory. Earlier in the month, a parked Tesla in the USalso caught fire.
The two electric vehicle makers do have something in common, however. Tesla and BYD both plan to expand into each other’s markets. China is the world’s largest car market, and the US comes second.
Lithium batteries are what allow electric vehicles to travel several hundred miles on one charge. Their capacity for energy storage is well known, but so is their tendency to occasionally catch on fire—an occurrence known to battery researchers as “thermal runaway.” These fires occur most frequently when the batteries overheat or cycle rapidly. With more and more electric vehicles on the road each year, battery technology needs to adapt to reduce the likelihood of these dangerous and catastrophic fires.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Engineering report that graphene—wonder material of the 21st century—may take the oxygen out of lithium battery fires. They report their findings in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
The reasons lithium batteries catch fire include rapid cycling or charging and discharging, and high temperatures in the battery. These conditions can cause the cathode inside the battery—which in the case of most lithium batteries is a lithium-containing oxide, usually lithium cobalt oxide—to decompose and release oxygen. If the oxygen combines with other flammable products given off through decomposition of the electrolyte under high enough heat, spontaneous combustion can occur.
“We thought that if there was a way to prevent the oxygen from leaving the cathode and mixing with other flammable products in the battery, we could reduce the chances of a fire occurring,” said Reza Shahbazian-Yassar, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the UIC College of Engineering and corresponding author of the paper.
It turns out that a material Shahbazian-Yassar is very familiar with provided a perfect solution to this problem. That material is graphene—a super-thin layer of carbon atoms with unique properties. Shahbazian-Yassar and his colleagues previously had used graphene to help modulate lithium buildup on electrodes in lithium metal batteries.
Lithium cobalt oxide particles coated in graphene. Credit: Reza Shahbazian-Yassar.
Shahbazian-Yassar and his colleagues knew that graphene sheets are impermeable to oxygen atoms. Graphene is also strong, flexible and can be made to be electrically conductive. Shahbazian-Yassar and Soroosh Sharifi-Asl, a graduate student in mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and lead author of the paper, thought that if they wrapped very small particles of the lithium cobalt oxide cathode of a lithium battery in graphene, it might prevent oxygen from escaping.
First, the researchers chemically altered the graphene to make it electrically conductive. Next, they wrapped the tiny particles of lithium cobalt oxide cathode electrode in the conductive graphene.
When they looked at the graphene-wrapped lithium cobalt oxide particles using electron microscopy, they saw that the release of oxygen under high heat was reduced significantly compared with unwrapped particles.
Next, they bound together the wrapped particles with a binding material to form a usable cathode, and incorporated it into a lithium metal battery. When they measured released oxygen during battery cycling, they saw almost no oxygen escaping from cathodes even at very high voltages. The lithium metal battery continued to perform well even after 200 cycles.
“The wrapped cathode battery lost only about 14% of its capacity after rapid cycling compared to a conventional lithium metal battery where performance was down about 45% under the same conditions,” Sharifi-Asl said.
“Graphene is the ideal material for blocking the release of oxygen into the electrolyte,” Shahbazian-Yassar said. “It is impermeable to oxygen, electrically conductive, flexible, and is strong enough to withstand conditions within the battery. It is only a few nanometers thick so there would be no extra mass added to the battery. Our research shows that its use in the cathode can reliably reduce the release of oxygen and could be one way that the risk for fire in these batteries—which power everything from our phones to our cars—could be significantly reduced.”
There has long been a debate about Apple’s secretive automotive project being only about a self-driving system for vehicles rather than a full electric autonomous vehicle. It now looks clear that the latter is the case as Apple hires Tesla’s head of electric powertrains.
We described his departure from Tesla as a big loss for the company since he is amongst the most experienced engineers who have brought electric powertrain programs to market, not just at Tesla, but in the industry as a whole.
When Schwekutsch joined Tesla back in 2015, we described his background:
“Michael Schwekutsch joined Tesla last year to lead powertrain developments after a two-decade long career working for legendary third-party powertrain engineering firms like BorgWarner and GKN Driveline. More recently, he managed programs for the electric and hybrid powertrains of the BMW i8, Porsche 918 Spyder, Fiat 500eV, Volvo XC90, among other popular vehicles.
Today, he is responsible for Tesla’s drive units from the design and engineering to the manufacturing and validation – all operations currently done at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.”
At Tesla, he participated in the development of “leading edge Drive Systems like the one of the Tesla Roadster II and Tesla Semi / Tesla Truck.”
Now Electrek learns from separate sources that he joined Apple’s Special Project Group, which includes the Cupertino company’s Project Titan division.
He is the latest of several top Tesla engineers to join the project, which was for a time thought to only consist of a self-driving system for vehicles after a scale-back of the plan.
Now that Schwekutsch, who has exclusively worked on electric powertrains over the last decade, has joined Apple, it is becoming clear that the company plans to bring a complete electric vehicle to market.
Schwekutsch will join back Doug Field, who was a longtime engineering executive at Tesla before going back to Apple to lead their car project last year alongside Bob Mansfield, who Apple brought out ofretirement in 2016 to leadits Project Titan car team.
Electrek has learned that Apple is also hiring several other former Tesla employees in what appears to be another wave of the poaching war between the two companies.
At the height of it back in 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said about Apple:
“They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.”
More recently, however, Apple has hired some longtime executives and engineers that don’t appear to have been let go by Tesla. That said, the company has laid off many employees over the last year and some of them did go to Apple, which has experienced employment cut-backs of its own.
The panel, moderated by CARS Executive Director Stephen Zoepf, features companies that seek to catalyze electrification of transport, each focused on a different sector of the market.
From an all-electric chassis to electric mobility services at scale to fast & portable electric chargers to electric, highly-utilized AVs, this Energy Seminar will highlight the cutting edge in electric mobility.
Over the last several years, increasing the energy density of batteries has been a top priority in battery technology development, congruent with increasing demands for faster mobile devices and longer-lasting electrIc vehicles.
The energy density of lithium-ion batteries can be enhanced by either increasing the capacity of electrodes, or by enhancing the cell voltage (V).
Extensive research has been devoted to exploring the pairing of various materials in the search for the most efficient cathode/anode mix, but until now, only limited advances have been achieved due to the narrow electrochemical stability window of traditional electrolyte.
Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) led byChunsheng Wang– a professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE), and Chemistry & Biochemistry – have developed a highly reversible 5.3 V battery offering a Mn3+-free LiCoMnO4cathode, and graphite and Li-metal anodes.
A specially designed electrolyte was also created, which is stable to 5.5V for both the LiCoMnO4cathode and (graphite and Li-metal) anodes. This resulted in a 5.3V Li-metal cell, delivering a high energy density of 720Wh/kg for 1k cycles.
What’s more, this battery chemistry boasts a Coulombic efficiency of >99%, offering new development opportunity for high-voltage and energy Li-ion batteries.
Long Chen– a ChBE post-doctoral research associate – andXiulin Fan– a ChBE assistant research scientist – served as first authors on the corresponding research paper, published inChemon February 28, 2019.
“We are pleased to announce that we have created a stable 5.3V battery,” said Long Chen.
“The key is thesuperelectrolytes with an especially wide electrochemical windows of 0 – 5.5V – this is due to the formation of robust interfacial layer on the electrodes.”
Said Wang, “The high voltage electrolytes enable us to use high voltage cathode and high capacity Si- and potential Li-metal anodes, which will significantly increase the cell energy density.
However, the Coulombic efficiency of >99% for 5.3V LiCoMnO4still needs improvement to achieve a long cycle life.”
For additional information:
Chen,L., Fa, X., Hu, E., Ji,X., Chen, J., HouS., Deng, T., Li,J., Su,D., Yang,X., Wang, C. “Achieving High Energy Density through Increasing the Output Voltage:
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
The same holds true across the country. Gas stations outnumber public charging stations by around seven to one. It’s no wonder people get so nervous about driving an electric car.
Numerous studies have shown that consumers steer clear of EVs because they worry about the lack of charging stations. Studies also show that consumers are more likely to buy an electric car when they see stations around town. While fears about range anxiety are largely unfounded — even the cheapest EVs sport enough range to serve nearly all of a driver’s needs — the paucity of charging stations is a real concern on longer trips, and it is deterring consumers from going all-electric.
To be clear, it’s not just consumers who want to see more chargers. Charging stations are a boon to automakers, who want to sell electric cars, as well as to power utilities, who want to sell more electricity. Some utilities and automakers are investing huge sums into setting up charging stations — including Volkswagen’s commitment to spend $2 billion on EV charging infrastructure as part of their settlement over the diesel emissions scandal. But by and large, automakers and power companies are not putting a lot of money towards charging infrastructure.
“I think the biggest problem with charging stations is there is no one responsible for installing charging stations,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director at Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “So you see some automakers, like Tesla, installing charging stations. You see charging stations occasionally getting put out as part of a municipal planning process,” he said, “but for the most part, there is no one entity or group that feels responsible for that duty.”
Power utilities have a big interest in EVs. Despite continued economic growth, demand for electricity has stayed flat over the last decade, as businesses slash energy use and consumers switch to more power-thrifty appliances — LED light bulbs, flat-screen TVs, high-efficiency washers and dryers. EVs could drive up the demand for electricity, throwing a lifeline to power utilities. And yet, these companies largely aren’t building charging stations.
“For power utilities, the question is whether they see it as something that’s actually in their bailiwick or not,” Sifuentes said. Policymakers have not directed utilities to build out EV infrastructure, and with so few electric cars on the road, utilities are unlikely to take it upon themselves to start building charging stations.
The Tesla Model 3
“The problem is that the charging infrastructure doesn’t have a viable business model yet,” said David Greene, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee. “Although, there are some companies who are working on it really hard.”
Private firms like EvBox and ChargePoint are looking to radically expand the number of available charging stations, but these plans depend on exponential growth in the sale of EVs. ChargePoint is looking to add 2.5 million charging stations to its global network of just 50,000, a goal it said is based on a “conservative view” of future EV sales. EvBox, meanwhile, is aiming for 1 million new charging stations. A spokesperson noted this target is “at least partly dependent on the number of electric vehicles on the road,” though he was similarly bullish on the growth of EVs. Analysts expect EV sales to increasedramatically in the coming years, though majorroadblocks stand in the way of future adoption.
Even if EV sales take off and charging stations proliferate, barriers will remain. Making EVs more viable means installing not just more chargers, but more fast chargers that allow drivers to take long journeys. The difference between a fast charger and a slow charger is the difference between a family stopping for coffee while they refuel their car and a family stopping overnight.
“It’s 180 miles from Knoxville to Nashville. Supposedly there’s a [direct current] fast charger at a Cracker Barrel in Cookville, which is almost exactly halfway, but it almost never works,” Greene said. “The fact that the range is limited and the recharging time can be quite long if one does not have access to fast charging, that’s another problem.”
There is also the fact that the technology isn’t standardized. Different cars use different plugs. Ford and GM use one kind. Tesla uses another. Fast charging requires a different kind altogether. So, while charging stations dot the country, not every station meets every driver’s needs. Until manufacturers arrive at an industry standard — or policymakers mandate that standard —
“charging stations are going to need to have two or three different types of plugs, and people will need to be able to charge at different speeds because their car might not have a supercharger,” Sifuentes said.
Sifuentes believes that policymakers have a key role to play in building out charging stations. “They have to actually put in place laws and incentives that encourage the development of the necessary infrastructure, and I think that takes place in two ways,” he said. “One, encouraging utilities to do that. But also, I think we can’t ignore the role that public transit plays here.”
Different types of EV plugs.
New York City, he said, has pledged to switch to all-electric buses by 2040. “That means they’re going to have to put some serious charging infrastructure in place,” Sifuentes said. “If there’s a charging location that has to be put in because buses need to charge there but that’s available for private use as well, great.”
In addition to building public charging infrastructure, governments can also encourage the development of private charging infrastructure. Policymakers in Iowa and Austin, Texas, for example, are working to lower barriers to setting up charging stations, allowing private firms, as opposed to power utilities, to resell electricity. “I think the other role that policymakers have to play here is they have to actually put in place laws and incentives that encourage the development of the necessary infrastructure,” Sifuentes said.
In Norway, where EVs account for around a third of all new car sales, the government has gone a step further. The government is installing a fast charging station every 30 miles on main roads. EV drivers can get free charging at public stations in addition to free parking and free access to toll roads. Sifuentes said these kinds of policies are needed to spur the growth of EVs and support the installation of EV charging stations.
“We’re absolutely on the tipping point,” Sifeuntes said. “The more that we see EVs rolling out, the more and more it’s going to look like the right move to be putting this infrastructure in place.”