Earlier when I had a discussion with my friend on buying a car, he had suggested me to go for an electric car (EV), which unlike any other regular car was cost effective and good for the environment too. It was no doubt a good idea as considering the ever-rising fuel costs, you could not only save money but also be a part of an answer to the problem of declining resources. Also, rather than waiting in a queue at the fuel station, there is convenience of charging up your car from the comfort of your home or at charging booths installed in public areas.
Buying a new car is an important investment and we often involve a lot of time in research, reviews and test drives before settling for one. To support the adoption of plug-in electric vehicle, several national governments and local authorities around the world are introducing policy driven incentives such as purchase rebates, tax exemptions and credits, and additional perks that range from access to bus lanes to waivers on fees. Although EVs are still rare, the movement is gaining a grip as consumers become aware of the many benefits the new technology offers.
EV Charging Infrastructure on Demand
Due to the growing demand, many companies are developing and launching new EV models with robust charging infrastructure networks. The Global Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Market size is expected to reach US$72.5 billion by 2025, rising at a market growth of 38.5% CAGR during the forecast period. Growing sales of EVs are anticipated to drive the global market over the forecast period due to widespread and easily accessible charging infrastructures, public initiatives and support in terms of tax credits and profitable subsidies. Lower operating and maintenance costs and increasing consumer awareness of environmental advantages further encourage customers to use EVs, which also contributes to demand, thereby boosting the worldwide market.
Major automotive companies are investing strongly in the growth of EV charging stations and new techniques such as lithium-ion batteries, ultra-fast DC charging networks, independent park-and-charge and wireless charging to increase EV revenues. For e.g., Volkswagen Group is working on the creation of V-Charge, an EU study project focused on automating the parking and charging of EVs. V-Charge fully automates the process of recognizing a parking place and charging using a network of various sensory instruments including wide-angle cameras, digital maps, 3D cameras, ultrasound sensors and ‘ Car2X ‘ technology for cars to interact with the charging infrastructure.
Classifying the EV Charging Stations
The electric vehicle charging infrastructure consists of two primary fields: charging facilities and charging devices. It is possible to classify the charging equipment into home charging and government charging. Opportunity charging stations, fast-charging stations, and battery swapping stations can also be listed as public charging equipment. Meanwhile, it is possible to classify the charging equipment as conductive chargers, inductive chargers and wireless chargers.
Home Chargers – A home charging system has no metering system, but requires a separate circuit for faster charging. The owner can plug the EV after they return home, and the vehicle is recharged overnight.
Public Charging Stations – It includes parking space at work places, shopping malls, public transit areas, restaurants etc. These stations can be either private or commercially owned, which may or may not include a usage fee. The payment can be done using either cash or card for every kWh of electricity.
Switching Batteries – This option is available for those who would want to avoid the time involved in waiting for the completely discharged vehicle battery to be charged. However, this method has still not entirely succeeded globally, as not all EV models may support the service.
Charging Station Options – With regular and fast charging stations, new options such as mobile charging stations and wireless charging mats have been introduced. Moreover, there are some fast charging stations installed at alternate ranges between cities and towns for longer distance trips. Unlike smaller passenger vehicles, electric buses and trucks require a different type of charging infrastructure. Hence, this gives an opportunity for companies to develop dedicated charging stations for different vehicles.
Although many technological challenges have been solved, there are some issues that still need attention.
In the coming years, e-vehicles will be a common thing on the road, hence the focus needs to be on providing the required charging infrastructure combined with renewable energy. To provide round-the-clock power, the charging station is connected to the electrical grid that derives their electricity from fossil-fuel or nuclear power plants. However, going with the eco-friendly way, some companies have designed charging stations that are operated by using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
Still, for many of us the biggest challenge of adopting battery or electric powered cars is the need of available charging stations. As how we find a gas station on every range, owners of EVs need to be assured that, no matter how far they drive there will be a charging station to help them continue with the journey.
To make this easy, collaborative efforts would be required in promoting the charging infrastructure, with the government taking the leadership role. Eventually, with the right business models and joint ventures, the set-up and operation of charging infrastructure will not be a contest.