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EV Superchargers Face One Key Hurdle

EVs

Companies around the world are developing superchargers that can “fill up” an EV battery in a matter of minutes, but there is one problem: they can’t be deployed because battery makers have yet to make their product capable of withstanding the supercharge.

Tesla last month opened its first V3 Supercharger station that has a capacity of 250 kW and can add 30 km of range per minute. The company has made its new cars compatible with the new, faster chargers, but Tesla is more of an exception in that it makes its own batteries and chargers.

An Australian company, Tritium, makes chargers that can add more than 215 miles to an EV’s range in just ten minutes. This is a whole new category of ultrachargers that could have a capacity of as much as 350 kW, adding range at a rate of 20 miles per minute, Bloomberg’s David Stringer in a recent overview of the industry. This compares with 20 miles per hour for regular chargers dominating the EV landscape at the moment.

“The main reason you own a car is for the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you feel like it. That will always be playing on your mind if you have a slow charger,” Stringer quotes the CEO of Tritium, David Finn, as saying.

Indeed, one of the main concerns among drivers regarding EVs is the slow charging speeds, which explains the race among carmakers, battery makers and builders of chargers to alleviate this concern. However, it seems batteries have yet to catch up with the superfast chargers.“We barbecued a couple of cars until we got there,” Swiss ABB’s chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said at CERAWeek commenting on the company’s foray into high-speed chargers. It’s very likely that other battery makers have also run into the same “barbecueing” problem in their efforts to make sturdier batteries. Related: Facebook Pulls Misleading Solar Scam Ads

Bloomberg’s Stringer says there are already a few EV models with stronger batteries due to hit markets later this year. Notable among them is the Porsche Taycan, which the company says will be able to take full advantage of the ultrafast chargers. Hyundai’s Kona Electric and Jaguar’s I-Pace can also utilize faster chargers although not the ultrafast ones as they risk getting barbecued.

The industry insiders Bloomberg’s Stringer talked to expect batteries to catch up with chargers in a few years’ time, maybe in a decade. However, this will likely come at a cost, that is, a higher cost for the EVs that carmakers are trying to make as affordable as possible to motivate more sales.

EV batteries that can take juice from ultrachargers without blowing up are larger than regular ones and, of course, can accept higher voltage. This doesn’t come free in the battery-making world, especially since it’s a world where battery research is also juggling battery life and energy density improvements to make electric cars more appealing to drivers who are used to what ICE vehicles have offered for decades.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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