One of the factors that puts people off buying an electric vehicle is the charge time. Even though there are over 300 free charge points in the city of Barcelona alone and, as we have already explained, installing a charge point for your parking space is neither hard nor expensive, the battery’s run-out time continues to be a worry and people still regard charging an electric vehicle as being nothing like stopping at a filling station to refuel the car in just five minutes.
However, advances have clearly been made in this field and it will not be so long until charging an electric vehicle is much the same as filling the tank of a fuel-driven car. At present, charging the car at home takes some 4 to 12 hours and using a fast-charge station can take just over an hour. If you are travelling somewhere, having to stop for an hour is obviously too long. In Europe, however, latest-generation 350 Kw charge points, suitable for all kinds of leads, are starting to be installed (and there are already about 50 in Spain). With them, in a charge time of just 20 minutes, your vehicle will have a range of over 300 km. Several companies are spearheading the introduction of these latest versions and over 400 of these points are expected to have been installed by the end of 2018 and over one thousand by 2020.
Vehicle batteries are intrinsically linked to the issue of charge points. If new advances are made in battery technology, they will be better prepared to receive more energy in less time and to last for longer before they need recharging. Although the real range of most electric cars currently on sale stands at around 300 km, technology is currently being designed that will extend their range to 500 to 600 km. This involves batteries made of lithium, nickel and cobalt, which also have a longer useful life and improve on charge times. A few years will have to pass until cars with these batteries are available at affordable prices, although 2023 has been predicted as a possible date. There are also batteries in the research stage, such as batteries made of lithium and sulphur or lithium and metal. Research is also being carried out into solid-state batteries, potentially offering a real range of over 650 km, a longer useful life and six times faster charge time in comparison with now. For full technical details of the future of electric batteries, see this exhaustive article.
In January this year, six Basque companies leading the field in power technology electronics joined forces to create an innovative charge point that can charge 80% of the battery in between 15 and 20 minutes. They currently have two charge points and they are the fastest in Spain. The priority is to connect Portugal, Spain and France with these fast charge points to make travel along this corridor easier. The aim is to have 740 charge points of this kind by 2020.
The British petrol company BP has joined in this race to find the fastest, most practical way of charging electric vehicles by investing 17 million euros in an Israeli company that is developing a type of battery that will make charging an electric car an experience “comparable with filling a conventional vehicle” and they have ventured an amazing charge time of just 5 minutes.
Going one step further, the researcher at the head of the University of Colorado’s Engineering Department in the USA has presented a prototype electric road, based on a study once made by visionary inventor Nikola Tesla. With this project, the aim is to charge electric cars while they are in movement. According to the research scientist, cars would be able to travel for hundreds or even thousands of kilometres without having to stop. Even though incorporating this technology in roads is obviously a big challenge, the idea is not preposterous and determined advances are being made under the watchful eye of experts worldwide.
Fossil fuels are a thing of the past and we now know that electric vehicles are good business as well as benefitting the environment, as we have explained to LIVE in several articles. Hence, the all-round interest in the shift toward electric vehicles and in further improvements to this technology. Rapid headway is being made, also thanks to public receptiveness.