As EV Adoption Booms, the Market for Charging Solutions is Poised to Grow

In November 2020, electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla became the most valuable automaker in the world. And recently, during her CES 2021 keynote, General Motors CEO Mary Teresa Barra committed to “laying the foundation for an all-electric future” for the largest American car manufacturer.

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF)[1] while there will be a reduction of EV sales in 2021, analysts expect automakers to sell over 8.5 million new EVs in 2025, before surging to 26 million in 2030 — approximately 28% of the market. Therefore, by 2030, there will be about 116 million EVs in circulation worldwide.

More EVs means less pollution and less maintenance — it also means there will be a greater need for a larger and more efficient charging infrastructure.

Last June, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that “the infrastructure for electric-vehicle charging continues to expand. In 2019, there were about 7.3 million chargers worldwide, of which about 6.5 million were private, light-duty vehicle slow chargers in homes, multi-dwelling buildings, and workplaces.”[2]

“Globally, the number of publicly accessible chargers (slow and fast) increased by 60% in 2019 compared with the previous year, higher than the electric light-duty vehicle stock growth,” the report also states.

An ongoing effort to standardize charging for EVs everywhere

EV makers have long been working together to create standards for EV charging, including universal charging connectors. Today, most full-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are equipped with a Type 1 AC EV supply equipment (EVSE) — usually a J1772 connector. For those unfamiliar, EVSE is a protocol to help keep the user and EV safe while charging. EVSE eliminates all user interaction beyond plugging the standard connector in — the charger takes care of the rest.

The J1772, also known as a “J plug,” allows for both 110-V and 220-V single-phase charging, as used in North America and Japan.

In Europe, many EVs are also equipped with an IEC Type 2 “Mennekes connector” for Level 2 or a “Scame connector” for Level 3 charging. Both connectors comply with IEC 62196[3] specifications. Level 3 allows for fast three-phase charging at up to 63 A.

Another connector gaining popularity is CHAdeMO.[4] It uses DC charging, which allows for higher-voltage levels to be delivered to the vehicle. In a CHAdeMO-equipped charging station, the AC-to-DC conversion is handled at the station, not in the car. Additionally, the CHAdeMO specification allows for bidirectional power transfer. This means EV owners can use the vehicle as an energy storage device to optimize power usage and provide balancing services to the grid.

Different charging solutions are now competing in a growing market

For people charging their EVs at home, the most popular option is a wall-based AC charging station. While there are several manufacturers of those charging systems, the most installs come from “Wallbox.”

Wallbox currently offers two home charging options: the Pulsar Plus, which offers standard AC charging compatible with all car types — including hybrid vehicles — and the Quasar[5] the first two-way charger for home use featuring DC direct power and a CHAdeMO connector.

Among the most inclusive infrastructure being deployed are the standalone charging stations now found in an increasing number of parking lots, city streets, and gas stations. These units usually feature different connectors, including fast charging, using AC and DC power.

Depending on the type of connector featured in the car, a station can charge a typical EV in less than 30 minutes. Some cities, especially in Europe, provide free charging to encourage EV adoption.

In the past few years, another option gaining adoption is wireless charging. The idea is to be able to charge electric vehicles without plugging them in. Plugless[6] a company that manufactures and sells electric wireless charging stations, provides upgrade kits for the Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, and Chevrolet Volt, with plans to add more vehicles soon.

Some cities and regions are also considering in-road wireless charging. The idea here is to charge EVs on the go, thereby eliminating the need to pull over at a charging station. This could be especially useful for electric buses.

Speaking of electric buses, these vehicles are being charged using pantographs at some bus stops. In Barcelona, for instance, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (TMB) operates an electric bus fleet with charging stations at the end of the line.[7] The pantographs in use are ultra-fast systems (500 kW of power) that charge 80% of battery capacity in an estimated five to eight minutes. The system allows a driver to operate the electric bus for the entire day. It also reduces the number of batteries needed, which, in turn, saves power and decreases the total cost of operation (TCO) of the service. In fact, TMB has estimated that the TCO of running an electric bus with overhead charging for 10 years, including the infrastructure’s cost, is significantly lower than operating a diesel or hybrid model.

EVs could be a solution to balancing the grid and powering homes during outages

The massive battery capacity found in today’s EVs can be used as temporary storage for renewable energy, balancing the grid, and powering people’s homes when necessary.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is featured in many of today’s EVs, allowing the transfer of the battery-stored power back to the grid or charging station. Using a CHAdeMO connector and a V2G charging station, an EV could temporarily store surplus electricity from solar panels installed on-premises and then send the electricity back to the house or building when necessary. This could be critical in case of power outages resulting from natural disasters.

For example, a fully charged Tesla Model 3 with 75-kWh capacity can supply electricity for a typical home’s essential needs for over a week. Furthermore, a network of EVs can help a power company provide additional power to a neighborhood when needed.

According to MarketWatch, the global V2G technology market is projected to garner revenue of about $17.43 billion by 2027, while recording a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2027.[8]

Looking ahead

There is no doubt that EVs are no longer the future of transportation — they are the present. And in just a little bit of time, we can expect that having an EV charging station at home will be as normal as owning a car.

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[2] IEA — Global EV Outlook 2020.

[3] Type 2 connector — Wikipedia.

[4] Chademo Association — EV Fast-Charging Organization.

[5] Wallbox Quasar: The first bidirectional charger for your home.

[6] Plugless Power.

[7] Endesa and TMB install 2 new pantographs for electric buses.

[8] V2G Technology Market Hit Growth 48%.


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