Electric vehicles look set to form a significant part of the road transport system of the future. But to facilitate this transition, and ensure that all of these new vehicles have the energy they need to move from place to place, a fairly sophisticated charging infrastructure needs to be put into place.
This means increasing not only the quantity of charging stations but their quality, too.
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Advancements in Charging Station Technology
So, how are charging stations changing for the better?
For one thing, the sheer wattage is being pushed up. This makes a big difference in charging speeds, to the extent that one might go from a near-empty battery to a fully charged one in the time it takes to grab a cup of coffee at a rest stop.
There’s also the promise of inductive charging, which removes the need for a cable. This might reduce wear and tear on charging stations, and ensure their availability. In a future where every car is electric, we might even see entire parking lots where every bay doubles as a refueling point. Combined with existing technologies like vibration sensors, a bay might determine that a vehicle is present, charge it, and then bill the owner – without the need for any cables, or even the attention of the driver.
The user experience might also improve. An advanced user might create a charging schedule for their vehicle, so that charging only occurs when demand on the grid is lowest. In a future where every vehicle in the country is battery-electric, this might enormously reduce the strain imposed by vehicle charging.
The Importance of Robust Charging Infrastructure
One of the most significant obstacles to widespread EV adoption is uncertainty. If you aren’t entirely confident that you’ll be able to fuel your vehicle, then you might feel nervous every time you get behind the wheel. This isn’t a feeling that consumers relish.
The availability of a robust charging infrastructure allays this fear. Where charging is ubiquitous and reliable, worries about availability quickly vanish. Just as modern motorists don’t seriously worry about being able to find a filling station, the motorist of the future might feel confident that there’s a charging point around every corner – even in more remote corners of the world.
With this confidence, the growth potential of the EV market might be realized.
Emerging Trends in EV Charging
So, what are the big changes we’re likely to see in the next few years?
Wireless charging is a game changer. It will undoubtedly make the experience of using an electric vehicle hugely more convenient. Urban planners and homebuilders might think of creating charging points on driveways, in much the same way that they now include high-wattage outlets for things like ovens and fridges.
The other big change is fast chargers. Around 330,000 new fast chargers were installed in 2022, of which the vast majority were installed in China. In the US, the figure was 6,300, of which the majority were Tesla Superchargers. Thanks to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, this number is set to skyrocket.