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EV Charging Infrastructure Still Evolving

Image courtesy of Spencer Chin evchargeinfrastructure.jpg
Panelists debate EV charging infrastructure during a roundtable at the recent Battery Show and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo.
Battery Show panelists discuss EV challenges as technologies such as wireless gain traction.

A key challenge in the adoption of electric vehicles, whether they be private-owned or fleet vehicles, is the development of reliable, readily accessible charging infrastructure. At the recent Battery Show and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo in Novi, MI, several sessions discussed some of the issuesꟷand progressꟷ companies and public agencies face as EV adoption grows.

In a roundtable panel titled, Building Infrastructure to Support Charging Needs,” panelists said convenience to chargers was one hurdle in consumer acceptance of EVs.

Jigar Shah, Head of Energy Services, Electrify America, said real-time charging availability as an issue. “Many people will not have access to charging,” he said. “Reliability and customer service are important.”

The location of EV charging stations is a crucial element in improving infrastructure. But the issue is more than just strategically situation these stations so drivers don’t have to travel an inordinate distance. The exact physical location of the station also become a factor, according to Cory Bulls, Senior Public Affairs Manager for FLO EV Charging.

“We like a curbside model because the station can be installed next to a residential complex, but in the city’s right of way. The question then becomes who owns the charging infrastructure? It could be the city or utilities.

Who Owns Infrastructure

Who owns the charging infrastructure in turn raises the issue of access to chargers, said Genevieve Cullen, President of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, an industry group represent electric vehicle interests. “We need to make the markets work more equitably. Cullen added that billions of dollars wlll need to be spent to help equalize access to charging infrastructure.

Educating the consumer about effective charging practices will also have to occur. One way is through telematics, according to Christopher Michelbacher, EV Charging & Infrastructure Manager Audi of America.

“We are working on ways through vehicle telematics to show grid data at any moment.  This this information has an educational component—it can help customers to optimize regime to be most cost-effective, and most convenient.”

Vehicle charging infrastructure was also discussed in a technical session called “Powering EVs With High-Power Wireless Charging.” In this session, Michael Masquelier, Chief Technology Officer at WAVE, discussed deployment of wireless EV chargers at the Port of Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley Transit Agency (AVTA).

The operations use inductive wireless charging pads over which a vehicle can drive over. Once situated, the charging pads are activated within seconds with energy transferred via magnetic field.

Masquelier said that the Antelope Valley Transit Authority was able to do away with the inconvenience of plug-in chargers and the maintenance cost of overhead pantograph chargers, by going to the wireless chargers. Depot power requirements were reduced by 40%.

Masquelier hopes installing wireless charging pads at Port of Los Angeles facilities will also improve charging productivity. So far, two pads have been installed with ten more slated to be put in.

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]

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