What’s Hot in Latin America? Electric Vehicles

(DGIwire) – In November 2018, South American observers at Chile’s port of San Antonio would have encountered a striking scene: 100 brand-new electric buses rolling off a cargo ship from China. As recently reported in The New York Times, they were headed to the capital city of Santiago, where they were slated to be incorporated into the public bus fleet. As the paper noted, it is part of the country’s plans for 100 percent electrification by the year 2050.

Although China and Western Europe are leading the charge on electric vehicles (EVs), the Times observes that cities in Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Costa Rica are also seizing the opportunity to go electric. With more than 80 percent of its population living in urban area, the region has strong incentives to promote electric mobility, the article adds.

“Around the world, an increasing number of national and city governments are ushering in a new era of EVs,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “Along with this global push to the new technology come the challenges of ensuring that adequate recharging infrastructure is available.”

One of these major hurdles involves the rate at which recharging can take place. Currently available chargers, Voller says, are unable to supply electricity to an EV at anything close to the five minutes that is required to refuel a conventional gasoline-powered car.

According to Voller, this true not only for the 3kW charge available from standard wall sockets and 30kW street chargers, but even commercially available 120kW chargers and cutting-edge 350kW chargers. It is not feasible, he notes, to expect drivers to wait for much longer periods while their vehicles recharge. One issue is that installing new grid infrastructure at charging stations that can handle very fast charging rates has been viewed as cost-prohibitive.

One potential solution is to utilize C-Ion cells, which allow energy to be safely transferred to EVs using extremely fast charging rates. Banks of C-Ion cells can be used to buffer the grid, and very-high-rate direct current chargers could then be connected to the C-Ion banks operating at 350kW, 450kW or even as high as 1,000kW. These DC chargers could be installed at filling stations without the need to install new grid infrastructure.

If incorporated into an EV, C-Ion could make it possible to transfer energy at rates higher than anything currently available, and reduce the charge time to as little as five minutes. Voller suggests this would have a tremendously positive impact on the appeal of EVs in the mind of the average car owner.

“Meeting and mastering the logistical issues associated with recharging is a must as the EV revolution continues in regions worldwide,” adds Voller.