The Charging Concepts Changing the eMobility Game
From static to dynamic; wireless to hydrogen-electric, innovation is the key buzzword in the world of electric vehicle charging. All efforts are targeted on providing the growing numbers of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and EV users with longer ranges, more convenience and bigger power capacities.
For energy providers and telecom companies, charging concepts have become a juicy business opportunity. So what are the latest developments in eMobility charging, and how are they impacting the future of electric transport?
Charging gets competitive
The biggest players amongst OEMs and energy providers are focusing their R&D resources on smart charging stations. Innogy, owned by Germany’s RWE, has presented what it argues is the next generation of charging stations. E.ON and EDF are also working with Nissan to develop services that allow electric vehicles to sell their energy back to the grid when being charged at off-peak times, to ensure no network strain.
And there is more to come in the shape of existing payment systems and EV charging integration, the combined use of static and dynamic charging, more wireless charging capabilities and, of course, ultra quick DC charging.
Extra Features and Super Fast Charging
Innogy is preparing a new eBox product portfolio capable of charging at up to 22kW alternating current. According to the company, the chargers can be either wall-mounted or free-standing, are based on standardized communication protocols and can be networked with IT systems.
“The modular concept allows users cost-effective installation and update capability, also in the charger’s hardware.” The company argues that it wants to target a broad set of users, including companies, shop network operators, municipal utilities and private customers. As informed by electrive.com, the “customizable features” comprise adaptability to weather conditions, connectivity and network functionalities through WLAN or Bluetooth, and the integration of a SmartMeter for legal-for-trade and kWh-accurate billing.
In early 2019, ABB launched the Terra HP High Power fast charger, an EV charging solution sporting a 350 kW capacity that enables the addition of 200km of range in just eight minutes. The company asserts that its new product is suited for highways, where the addition of dynamic DC power-sharing technology “allows a two-power cabinet charging system to charge a couple of EVs simultaneously, while dynamically optimizing the available grid connection and the power delivery to the two vehicles.”
For better performance, the Terra HP model delivers high uptime due to redundancy on power and communication, as well as individually cooled charging cables.
Wireless Becoming the Norm
Perhaps the leading charging concept is wireless technology. According to the latest report by Persistence Market Research, the global wireless car charging market is estimated to reach a valuation of US$3.14 billion by the end of 2025, up from US$194 million in 2017 – “This is reflective of a CAGR of 41.7% in terms of value during the forecast period.”
Wireless charging technology is segmented into Inductive Charging and Hybrid-Inductive Resonance. The report further asserts that, “Inductive Charging is the largest segment, expected to hold about 72% market share by the end of 2025. At a 40.0% CAGR in terms of value, this segment is likely to remain dominant in the global wireless car charging market during the forecast period.”
This all means that this technology offers several opportunities to users in spaces like shopping centers, commercial buildings and on public roads.
One of the biggest players in taking the plunge into wireless charging is Qualcomm. As reported by Car Magazine UK, the company launched its Halo technology, which involves resonant magnetic induction to transmit energy between two pads: one on the ground, another attached to the floor of a compatible EV. “The charging pad is around a meter square, while the car’s receiving pad is enclosed in a smaller, dinner dish-sized device under the car. Once the two are aligned, charging can take place at 3.3kW, 6.6kW or 20kW speeds.”
It’s likely that wireless chargers will become a normal, expected accessory for electric vehicles as they provide a comfortable way of getting your car charged anywhere, thus facilitating eMobility by removing the hassle linked to sourcing different types of plugs and cables.
For Lukas Boehler, system architect at Brusa, “wireless charging devices translate into reduced space and material costs, and simple installation for EV users.” Boehler will hold a workshop at Automotive IQ’s upcoming eMobility conference in April 2019, in which he will share knowledge on communication systems for wireless chargers, the standardization for inductive charging, how to provide safety features to protect user from electrocution, and how to achieve high levels of charging efficiency.
The Rise of Hydrogen hybrid
Fuel cell electric vehicles, often overlooked as the industry anticipates only vehicles with batteries to be electric, are energetically catching up. Hyundai, one of the world leaders in fuel cell electric technology launched the Nexo, a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) that the firm claims offers the same range, performance and refueling time as a conventional ICE powertrain currently on the market.
According to Wardsauto.com, the Nexo features a driving range of up to 612km, and fuel tank packaging that does not compromise legroom or cargo space. Moreover, Hyundai’s component strategy will enable the Korean giant to scale up production and lower costs. The development comes as no surprise, as Hyundai has been working publicly with FCEVs for some time, launching the Tucson FCV in 2015. The Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity have since followed suit.
The Nexo has been touted by EV experts as “the most compelling case yet for high-volume FCEVs for mainstream buyers,” putting pressure on the six-digit EV price tag of Tesla models. “Based on a dedicated platform, [the Hyundai Nexo] is a sleek and stylish crossover with the range and refueling time of a conventional CUV and it beats the others in its competitive set in all key categories,” according to Wardsauto.com’s Drew Winter.
In line with these FCEV developments, in January AFC Energy launched the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle charger in the UK, a system that represents breakthrough in clean mobility. As noted by the Telegraph newspaper, “the system will help bridge the growing gap between electricity need and generation capacity caused by a projected rise in EV uptake.” Also, the modular, low-cost charger is a solution to some logistical issues currently linked to electric-car charging, and can even operate entirely off-grid.
Late in 2018, in Germany, the 50th public hydrogen service station was launched by H2 Mobility – a joint venture between Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total – to further hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the country. Situated in Potsdam – and with a refueling time of less than five minutes – the station has the capacity to charge up to 40 vehicles per day and a facility for refueling of hydrogen buses.
The eMobility industry is changing fast, and that’s exemplified by the number and range of innovative charging concepts being introduced. These are coming from various sources, too, with car manufacturers being joined by start-ups and telecom companies in creating new solutions that provide the growing number of MaaS and EV users with longer ranges, more convenience and bigger power capacities.