Electric Vehicle Charging: Current Trends and Future Technologies
Electric Vehicles (EVs) have revolutionized the transportation industry, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional, fossil-fuel-burning internal combustion engine vehicles. This blog discusses current EV trends and explores the future developments that are shaping the transportation industry.
Accelerated EV Adoption
Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids have skyrocketed in popularity in the U.S. in recent years. More than seven percent (7.2%) of all cars sold in the U.S. were fully electric during Q2 2023. That’s up from 5.7% in 2002, 3.2% in 2021, 1.7% in 2020, and 1.4 in 2019. Cox Automotive predicts that there will be 1 million new EVs sold during 2023—another milestone. Some of this increase can be attributed to sizeable price cuts (predominantly on Tesla) and government incentives.
Expectations are that by 2030 EVs will make up at least 50% of new car sales and, in total, there will be 33 million EVs on the road. There are currently 42 EV models on the market. The top-selling models in Q4 2022 include Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the Volkswagen ID.
EV Charging Infrastructure Expansion
There are now more than three million EVs on the road and approximately 51,000 public charging stations across the U.S. Accelerating the buildout of a convenient, reliable charging network is critically important to meet demand. (Estimates are that the US will need 28 million charging ports by 2030.) As a result, federal governments, utility companies, and private enterprises are investing heavily in expanding charging networks, both in urban areas and along major transportation corridors. This expansion includes public charging stations, workplace charging, and residential charging options to cater to the diverse needs of EV owners.
Renewable Energy Integration
The rapid development of EV charging technology has significant implications for the environment, economy, and future of transportation. The environmental benefits of EVs can be maximized by coupling them with renewable energy sources.
As the world shifts towards cleaner energy generation, the integration of EV charging infrastructure with renewable energy systems is gaining momentum. Solar-powered charging stations and wind-powered charging hubs are being implemented to reduce the carbon footprint of charging operations. Additionally, solar charging can reduce strain on the grid during peak demand periods.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), predicts that the growing demand from plug-in EVs could increase the load on U.S. power grids by up to 13% by 2030. Nevertheless, when discussing the grid, it’s important to remember that it’s made up of two, quite different, components. The first component includes electricity generation. The second includes distributing that electricity where and when it’s needed. The real challenge facing utility operators is managing the uneven demand for electricity throughout the day—and during major weather events.
But, what if instead of being a drain on the grid, EVs could actually present a much-needed solution?
Most EVs currently use unidirectional charging where alternating current is pulled from the grid and converted to direct current to charge the car’s battery.
Bidirectional charging turns charging is, not surprisingly, a two-way process.
Electricity from the grid is used to charge the vehicle, stored, and used later to support the grid (vehicle-to-grid or V2G) during high-demand times, or businesses (vehicle-to-building or V2B) during power outages. Unlike stationary storage and generation options, bidirectional EVs can be mobilized to a site prior to planned outages or arrive quickly after an unexpected power outage to supplement local generation or provide emergency power.
Wireless and Dynamic Charging
Almost all EVs currently rely on wired charging solutions. With wireless charging, drivers can simply park over a charging pad that uses electromagnetic fields to transfer energy to the vehicle’s battery. While still in the early stages of development, wireless charging technology holds vast potential to make EV ownership more convenient, cost-effective, and appealing for drivers and fleet operators.
Dynamic charging allows EVs to charge while in motion, using electrified roads or overhead power lines. This eliminates the need for regular charging stops.
Smart charging refers to a charging system where EVs, charging stations and charging operators share data connections. As a result, drivers can optimize their charging based on criteria such as time of day, electricity price, desired charge level, etc. A smart EV charger avoids times of the day when electricity prices are high and can time the charging process to use renewable energy when it’s most abundant. Smart EV charging can also improve the range and performance of EVs by ensuring that the battery is properly charged and ready to go when needed.
Integrated Mobile Apps and Payment Solutions
Convenience and user-friendly experiences are crucial for the widespread adoption of EVs. To streamline the charging process, mobile apps, and payment solutions have become increasingly popular. Charging app features can vary, but they all allow drivers to stay connected throughout the charging process and unlock real-time insights about charging behavior.
They enable users to locate nearby charging stations, check availability, reserve charging slots, and initiate payments seamlessly. Integration with payment platforms allows drivers to pay for charging services using a single app, regardless of the charging network they’re using.
The electric vehicle charging landscape is undergoing rapid transformation, driven by technological advancements, expanding infrastructure, and a shift towards sustainable energy sources. The proliferation of high-speed charging networks, mobile apps, V2G technology, wireless charging, and renewable energy integration are key trends shaping the future of EV charging. As these trends continue to evolve, electric vehicle owners can expect enhanced convenience, reduced charging times, and increased access to charging infrastructure, making electric mobility an increasingly attractive and viable option for drivers.