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Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

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Portable Chargers Could Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption

  • The lack of charging infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to widespread EV adoption.
  • Some innovators are working on a way to address those concerns and let drivers feel free to put electrified rubber to the road without fear.
    A suitcase-sized portable charger may help alleviate range anxiety.

There are a number of significant barriers to widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Electric cars are expensive, charging infrastructure is underdeveloped, range anxiety is rampant and valid, and a lot of people just really love their gas guzzlers -- Ford F-150 Lightning be damned.  But the United States is determined to overcome these barriers. On August 5, the Biden administration announced that it intends to ensure that by 2030, 50% of all new vehicle sales are EVs. Part of the motivation for this goal is the desire to stay competitive with China, which is currently threatening to dominate the EV market, but a major driver of the White House’s EV campaign is to meet the country’s climate targets.

A recent MIT study calculated how quickly the world’s electric fleet will have to grow in order to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages -- the benchmark set by the Paris agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. According to MIT’s calculations, in this scenario “global EV stock reaches more than 200 million vehicles in 2030, and more than 1 billion in 2050, accounting for two-thirds of the global LDV fleet.” However, in a more realistic scenario, “the global EV fleet will likely grow to about 95-105 million EVs by 2030, and 585-823 million EVs by 2050.”

So what needs to be done in order to close this gap? A lot of those prominent barriers to adoption need to be overcome. A wider price range of electric vehicles is already emerging, and as more players enter the EV game and economies of scale come into play, hopefully more models will continue to become more attainable. Charging infrastructure is a bigger challenge. The United States will have to revamp its aging power grids in a big way, but the Biden administration has made it clear that EVs are a priority for them, so this too could soon be addressed. 

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Consumer behavior, however, is a whole different animal. People simply have a lot of anxiety over switching to electric. Sure, the average driver only needs a range of 40 miles for their day-to-day activities, and the average EV provides three times that much on a single charge. But in the United States, where so many of our fantasies and pop culture touchstones revolve around hitting the open road, stopping every hour or so to charge the car just doesn’t sit right with a lot of people. Charging anxiety and range anxiety are real and present dangers for the EV market, and assuring consumers that they have nothing to worry about is no easy task.

Some innovators, however, are working on a way to address those concerns and let drivers feel free to put electrified rubber to the road without fear. This week at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, London-based ZipCharge introduced a new portable EV charger the size of a suitcase that drivers can carry with them in case they need to juice up in-between visits to charging stations. The powerbank, called a ZipCharge Go, weighs about 50 pounds and has wheels and a retractable handle for easy trunk storage. 

The first version of this product is capable of giving an additional 20 miles of range after 30 minutes of charging time, but a higher capacity version is soon to come. The Go is not yet available on the market but the startup plans to begin deliveries in the fourth quarter of next year for purchase or for lease. 

While a portable charger isn’t going to shake up the EV market and convince the legions of EV skeptics to get on board all by itself, the Go is an emblematic part of a growing and advancing industry that is popping out all kinds of creative solutions to market barriers. EVs and EV infrastructure are getting better all the time, and it won’t be long before pressing and widespread worries like range anxiety are a thing of the past. Because, let’s face it, electric vehicles are the future.

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

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