Roadside EV Charging: Got Juice?
Two ballyhooed new models of all-electric vehicles will be coming on the market this year. One model will go 40 miles on a full charge, the other will go 100 miles. For some that will be enough to go about business until the vehicle can be recharged at home or the workplace. For others, however, some kind of charging will be needed while out and about. Current technology (such as from EV-Charge America or Coulomb Technologies) that a public facility might deploy affordably, be it a gas station, restaurant, rest stop or parking meter, will provide a full charge in 6-8 hours and partial charges in about 2-3. More expensive fast charging technology is available for near-full charge-ups in about 30 minutes, but all these options are considerably longer than the 10 minutes or less one currently spends at a gas pump. This, plus the fact that there are only a few hundred charging stations in the country, means that many potential electric car buyers might pass on an EV purchase until there is a quantum leap in technology. Both the battery and charging technology are being worked on, thanks in part to government grants. The availability of charging stations will improve as well, also thanks to government grants. But all are dependent on the demand for electric vehicles being there. And so we have the classic chicken-and-egg situation: technology and charging station availability will improve if the demand is there, and the demand will improve if the technology and station availability is there. For those in the business of ramping up the nation’s roadside charging infrastructure, a drastic improvement in energy storage technology might not be the best thing. Demand for roadside charging might be curtailed if the energy storage technology improves to the point where an EV’s rrange becomes similar to fuel-burning vehicles. However, in the nearer term, roadside charging stations do have one thing going for them: the increasing urban/suburban sprawl and congestion that necessitates lfrequent charge-ups of EVs with limited range.
07-26-2010 9:09 PM