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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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EV Superchargers Are Already Here… But There’s A Catch

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: Sharp Rise In Rig Count Pressures Oil Prices

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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  • James Hilden-Minton on April 07 2019 said:
    Good reporting! Less astute reporters get confused thinking that 350kW charging beats Tesla at 250kW, but fail to recognize that no production car can as yet accept a charge higher than Tesla. Of in the long run, other EV makers will offer batteries that can charge above 250kW and Tesla may need to upgrade chargers again at that time. But all this could be many years off.

    Good to watch this tech race. To get to parity with gasoline, say 200 miles range in 5 minutes, we're looking at about 600kW charging. In that light, 250kW is almost halfway there.
  • Binkley North on April 08 2019 said:
    The grid can't handle them either - even one at a time would create surges.
  • Chris Hobson on April 08 2019 said:
    Please don't mix both metric and imperial units in the same article. Stick to one or the other. In one paragraph you say "V3 Supercharger station that has a capacity of 250 kW and can add 30 km of range per minute" and the next you say "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" Thats just bad reporting.

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