It doesn’t seem long since electric vehicles (EVs) were simply an environmentalist’s dream. Now sales of EVs are increasing. Research suggests that by 2030 there will be 500 million EVs worldwide and the number may well be an under-estimate.
One factor holding back the widespread adoption of EVs is the availability of charge points. Not surprisingly drivers worry about running out of power and getting stranded. So what is happening to address this and what can we expect for the future of charge points?
Increase in Charge Points
EVs are still rather limited in terms of range, maxing out at around 240 miles on a single charge – enough for a round trip from Lincoln to London, but not sufficient for a European holiday. We need an increase in commercial charge points for people driving long distances.
Fortunately, governments and private businesses are on the case. The European Union is pushing for charge point facilities to be available in new residential and commercial buildings and governments, such as the UK, are providing consumer subsidies for charge points.
All this focus is helping. Nissan estimate that the number of charge points will overtake petrol stations by August 2020, owing to both the decline in petrol stations and the increase in charging points. And, over the next two years, you’d be hard-pushed to find any car manufacturer that isn’t unveiling their hybrid or electric vehicles.
The variety of charge points is also increasing. You can choose between a range of functional, utilitarian charge points and more aesthetically-pleasing options. For example, Andersen EV’s charge point was nominated for a Design Week Award, demonstrating the mainstream attention charge points are receiving and which should help encourage adoption of EVs.
Speedier Charging & Improved Batteries
The speed of charging is improving significantly. With Three-Phase chargers, most modern EVs can now charge to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes. Not yet the five minutes it takes to fill a tank of petrol but the gap is closing thanks to improvements in both battery and charge point design.
More Power Sources
Along with improvements in battery and charge point design, there will be a significant shift towards diversifying the sources of power for EVs. I don’t expect any of these alternatives to provide all of the power needed to charge an EV, but if each one contributes a little to the charge of the vehicle, it will keep them going longer between stops at charge points.
Solar panels, otherwise known as photovoltaics (PV), have already become much more efficient at capturing the sun’s energy. They can already be seen on commercial and residential buildings, but increasingly they will be seen on the roofs of EVs, helping boost the car’s energy as you drive.
Another source of energy will likely lie under our roads, charging EVs as we drive. As early as 2015, the UK government was testing charge-and-drive solutions for buses, providing a small amount of charge at each stop to keep EV buses operating their entire route without having to plug in. Imagine if this technology could be installed at traffic lights or on stretches of motorways to give EVs a welcome energy boost.
Some suggest that the rise of autonomous vehicles will signal the end of car ownership. Instead, they suggest that cars will be booked and drive passengers autonomously to their destinations.
While this seems inevitable with the amount of money Uber and Google are ploughing into the technology, I still think there will be a place for personal vehicles and family cars. Longer trips, for example, will require the vehicle for long periods and anyone who’s tried to organise their kids for a holiday will know how long it takes to pack the car!
I think personal autonomous vehicles will make use of wireless charge points, which will become the new standard for EV charging. Wireless charge points use induction to charge the vehicle from underneath, eliminating the need for a human operator to plug them in.
So, while you are working, shopping or sightseeing your autonomous EV will be able to drive itself to a charge point, get itself fully charged and drive itself back when you need it again.
We all read news stories about congestion in cities and the increased pollution in many of them. As this technology evolves it will contribute to healthier and greener living.
The future of the EV charge point market is very exciting both for consumer and those of us in the industry.
Jérôme Faissat is co-founder of Andersen , makers of premium electric vehicle (EV) charging points. Timeless design, hand styling, superior quality and the latest technology are all key to every Andersen EV charging point.