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A Substation on Every Corner? Mass EV Charging Could Pose Some Electrifying Challenges

Will motorists continue to do most charging at home or office?

by on Nov.03, 2017

An EV charging station the size of a Costco or freeway truck stop gas station would require an electric substation to provide enough power.

The auto industry is getting ready to plug into battery power in a big way. In recent months, virtually every major automaker has announced some form of “electrification” and, by the middle of the coming decade, conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles could account for nearly a third of all new vehicle sales – even more if California regulators ban the internal combustion engine entirely, as they’re now considering.

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But this dramatic shift raises plenty of questions, including one of the most basic: where will American motorists plug in? And where will all the energy come from to charge up millions of new plug-based vehicles?

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Plug-Ins You Won’t Have to Plug In?

Wireless charging set to simplify operation for owners.

by on Mar.20, 2017

A schematic illustration of how the Mercedes-Benz S550e can charge up wirelessly.

In the not-too-distant future, your plug-in may not need to be plugged in.

When the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e makes its debut later this year, the plug-in hybrid will not need to be tethered to a charging station to top off its batteries, at least not if an owner has access to use the new Halo systems developed by San Diego-based Qualcomm. All they’ll need to do is position the big Benz sedan over an inductive mat.

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Similar technology is already becoming commonplace for cellphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Edge. And a number of automakers, including Honda, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, are building wireless phone charging mats into their vehicles. But the next step is to amp up the technology so it can wirelessly charge plug-based vehicles.

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Major Automakers Team Up on Ultra-Fast EV Charging Project

System could deliver 300+ miles range in 10 minutes.

by on Dec.01, 2016

A Level 4 charger could give a long-range vehicle a "fill-up" in 10 minutes or less.

Another barrier to electrification is about to fall, thanks to a new coalition pairing BMW, Daimler, Ford and the various Volkswagen AG brands.

The automakers have signed a preliminary agreement that would begin rolling out a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations across Europe – setting the stage for the adoption of similar Level 4 technology in the U.S., as well. The chargers will deliver 350 kilowatts of direct current, or roughly 2.5 times the jolt of the Superchargers Tesla is deploying across much of North America.

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The new system would leapfrog other Level 3 chargers just beginning to come online in many parts of the world. More importantly, they would allow a vehicle like the new, 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt (or the European version sold through Opel) to get a full charge in 10 minutes or less.

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Tesla Will Now Charge to Supercharge

Maker also announced purchase of German engineering firm to help boost production capacity.

by on Nov.08, 2016

A Tesla Supercharger station in Hawthorn, CA.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or free energy, it seems. Tesla Motors plans to stop offering unlimited use of its cross-continent network of high-speed Superchargers to anyone who buys one of its vehicles after January 1, 2017.

The system, which currently includes 734 chargers worldwide, most in the U.S. and Canada, allows motorists to travel long distances without range anxiety. Until now, they have been open to any Tesla owner at no charge. The battery-carmaker hasn’t said what it will now charge new buyers but claims it will “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

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Tesla had already signaled it would not include free charging for buyers of the Model 3, which is expected to go into production during the second half of 2017. The company says it now has more than 300,000 advance registrations on the books. And to help ensure it meets the aggressive production ramp-up outlined by CEO Elon Musk last March, Tesla is now buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries.

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New Consortium Aims to Help EV Owners ROEV More Freely

Taking down the barriers to battery-car ownership.

by on Nov.20, 2015

"This is the future of EV charging in the U.S.," says BMW's Rob Healey.

There are three key factors limiting broader consumer acceptance of battery-electric vehicles, according to most analysts: their high price, limited range and the lack of a readily available charging network.

A new consortium, announced at this week’s L.A. Auto Show, could help resolve the latter issue. Dubbed ROEV, short for Roaming for Electric Vehicle charging, the new venture aims to make it easier for owners of battery-based vehicles to plug in wherever they go. It will let them access the vast majority of public charge stations without having to sign up with a variety of different service providers.

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The goal is to “make sure every station is capable of serving every vehicle out there,” explained Brendan Jones, a vice president of NRG EVgo, one of the partners in the new charging consortium. “ROEV is reducing the barrier (to EVs by letting) people know they can charge anywhere.”

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British Road Project Could Eliminate Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety

Pilot project is building chargers into the road itself.

by on Aug.20, 2015

Eventually, British roads might add special lanes just for electric vehicles to recharge.

Imagine being able to drive as long as you’d like, the length of your trip limited only by the capacity of your bladder, not by the size of your fuel tank – or your battery.

A pilot project about to get underway in England could make it easy. The government-owned Highways England is launching an 18-month trial that eventually may help eliminate so-called “range anxiety,” making it possible for electric vehicles to charge while they drive, drawing power from the road itself.

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It’s one of a variety of creative concepts that highway planners are studying. A Dutch company wants to replace conventional asphalt with interlocking, Lego-like blocks created from recycled soft drink bottles. A U.S. entrepreneur, meanwhile, wants to replace conventional pavement with blocks of glass, turning the road itself into a giant solar panel, generating power that perhaps could be used for recharging electric vehicles.

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Tesla Devotees Charging Across the Country to Set Record

Four-man team using only maker's supercharger network for trip.

by on Jan.30, 2014

A team of four is attempting to set a world record by driving a Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to New York using only the maker's network of superchargers in just three days.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has been threatening to take his family on a cross-country vacation in a Model S using only the company’s recently completed Supercharger network to power up the vehicle.

But before he even powered up his car, one family’s already done it and a team of four is seeking to set a world record for the trip.

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A father-daughter team drove from New York to Los Angeles in five days. Now, the four-man Cross Country Rally team is currently attempting to break the newly established “record” by completing the 3,400-mile trek in reverse – Los Angeles to New York – in just three days. (more…)

Study Predicts Nearly 100-fold Increase in EV Charging Stations

Critical step needed to end “range anxiety.”

by on May.16, 2013

A new study expects to see more than 10 million EV charging stations worldwide by 2020.

Though Tesla Motors might have achieved its first-ever profit during the first quarter, sales of plug-in vehicles is generally lagging way below expectations, something analysts blame on the high price of battery-based vehicles as well as their limited range.

But the nascent electric vehicle market may get a big boost if a new study from IMS Research proves on target.  It predicts the number of EV charging stations will grow from a mere 135,000 worldwide in 2011 to as many as 10.7 million in 2020, with the fastest growth likely to occur in the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.

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“While (EV and plug-in hybrid sales) volumes may not reach the levels imagined in the hype of 2009, it is clear that there needs to be charging infrastructure in place to support this change in mobility,” says Alastair Hayfield, associate director at IMS Research.

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NY Mayor Bloomberg Wants 10,000 EV Charging Spaces

20% of all new parking spots to be “wired and ready.”

by on Feb.14, 2013

The space may be tighter but there'll be a lot more of these EV charging stations in NY in the coming years.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the Big Apple to be “wired and ready,” and wants to have the city add 10,000 public parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years.

The proposal would require that a fifth of new parking spaces to be charging stations for electric vehicles. Zoning laws in New York require the construction of new parking spaces along with new building construction, usually in the form of parking garages under or next to the building. According to the mayor’s office, about 10,000 new parking spaces are added each year in this way.

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“This year we’ll pilot curbside vehicle chargers that will allow drivers to fill up their battery in as little as 30 minutes,” the Mayor is expected to say according to an advance copy of the State of the City speech he will deliver today. “We’ll work with the City Council to amend the Building Code so that up to 20 percent of all new public parking spaces will be wired and ready for electric vehicles.”

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