• EV
  • EV Charging
  • EV Charging Infrastructure
  • Mobility as a Service

Investment in Innovative Charging Approaches Needed to Unlock EV Industry

Ryan Citron
Aug 28, 2018

EVs 3

EVs are likely to become the leading powertrain in light duty vehicle transport by 2050. The takeover is expected in medium and heavy duty vehicle transport not long after.

As the world begins the transition toward the electrification of the automobile, the planning of modern refueling infrastructure (i.e., EV charging) has been stuck in old thinking patterns. Too many suppliers and governments are still planning public charging infrastructure to emulate internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by refueling vehicles at centrally located stations. This is somewhat shortsighted—new technology requires innovative and new approaches to deployment.

New Solutions Can Close Gaps in the Market

Public charging is a necessity in cities, especially considering a significant number of residents do not live in single-family homes equipped with garages where they can easily install a home charger. Concerted efforts need to be made to provide some form of communal charging for city dwellers in apartments or condos. Several potential solutions exist:

  • Street lights as infrastructure for EV charging. Imagine a future where nearly every street light pole has an EV charger. Range anxiety in cities could become a thing of the past. Blink Charging is working toward this future, recently announcing a partnership with Israeli smart city developer Ya’acobi Brothers Group to develop light poles integrated with EV charging stations. Charging provider Ubitricity, based in Berlin, produces a similar solution for the European market. In London, residents can request to have EV charging stations installed at street lights on their block—and have the cost largely covered by the city. Los Angeles began a program in 2016 to install EV charging stations to street light poles. Navigant Research estimates that over 250 hundred charging stations are now deployed throughout Los Angeles’ street light infrastructure.
  • Robotic automated chargers. Instead of drivers inefficiently waiting to take turns using a few fixed chargers, cars can be recharged autonomously while parked. Sprint will begin testing robotic, self-driving EV chargers in New York City in early 2019. Dubbed Mobi, the robot will use solar energy from a nearby bay station to charge vehicles according to their power needs. 5G IoT technology from Sprint will create a micro-positioning navigation system for Mobi to navigate itself through parking lots.
  • Wireless and wired road charging. Supplying electricity to road vehicles can be done by wireless induction charging or through direct contact. The world’s first electrified road is recharging EVs in Sweden as they drive. The cost of road electrification is estimated to be 50 times lower per kilometer compared to urban tram lines. Having vehicles charge as they drive is another way to significantly extend vehicle range.
  • Leverage charging stations from carsharing and other mobility as a service programs for the public. For example, Singapore is making 400 of its charging stations from its EV carsharing program available to the public at large.

The lack of tailpipe emissions, potential for vehicle grid integration, connectivity capabilities, and integration with automated vehicles make EVs particularly attractive to forward-thinking cities. However, until the charging issue can be resolved, EVs will struggle to gain market share. Each potential solution outlined in this blog may not be enough on its own to completely solve the problem of range anxiety, but increased investment in these solutions by governments and utilities would go a long way toward unlocking the potential of the EV industry.