Buying an Electric Vehicle? 3 Things to Know

(DGIwire) – Every driver who decides to “go electric” faces the same anxieties about recharging. As USA Today recently reported, recharging is one of the most complicated parts of owning an electric vehicle (EV), especially since—outside the home garage—charging stations can be few and far between. The good news, reports the newspaper, is that powering up is only going to get easier and more convenient. Here are three things to know about the future of EV recharging:

  • Automakers are stepping up their own charging plans: Volkswagen has agreed to invest $2 billion over 10 years in EV infrastructure in the U.S., including new stations and educational initiatives, notes USA Today. The first round of investments is focusing on the installation of stations in 17 metro areas, including six in California.
  • Home charging will be critical, but is it feasible? For a few hundred or thousand dollars (plus the cost of energy consumed), EV owners can install a charging station at home, USA Today Since charging overnight is easy—it can even be done with a standard outlet—the U.S. Department of Energy projects that more than 90 percent of charging will take place in a residential setting, up from about 80 percent today. However, at-home charging is not a solution for urban areas and in places such as Europe where personal garage spaces are limited.
  • Faster charging may speed EV sales: Technologists are aiming for systems that could eventually charge EVs in as little as a few minutes, USA Today This will require the reconfiguration of battery chemistry to accommodate the intense power demands of extreme fast charging (XFC) as defined by the US Department of Energy (DoE)—a type of work already underway at ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

“One of the brightest potential developments in the world of EVs is the advent of XFC, which can make recharging convenient for drivers while also relieving undue strain on national electrical grids,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd. “This is one of the exciting endeavors we are currently mapping out.”

Around the world, utility grids will have to be optimized to support a level of charging that motorists find convenient or else they just won’t use them. XFC, a technology made possible with C-Ion, could be the solution. For example, a 350kW charger would take five minutes to provide a 100 mile range, while a 1000kW charger would take five minutes to provide a 300 mile range. To minimize capital investment, and also to keep the price of electricity low for drivers of electric vehicles, ZapGo proposes to install large containers on filling station sites that initially contain 1MWh (megawatt-hour) of stored energy in its C-Ion cells.

The containers will be charged up at night at off-peak rates using the existing electrical connections to the site. XFC 350kW chargers will be installed on site connected to the container storage, not directly to the site grid connection. Vehicles will be charged from the stored energy at the 350kW rate, and in the future at 1000kW rates.

“There is a real challenge to making sure the electricity grid can support cars charging at the same rate it costs to fill up on a tank of fuel. Fortunately, there are innovative companies like ours working rapidly on a reasonable solution,” adds Voller.