i3 - March/April 2016 - 16

THE FAST
CHARGERS

In the past five years, EV
chargers have evolved alongside the
vehicles' architecture, says Meghan
Chamberlain, key account manager
for electric vehicles at Bosch Automotive Service Solutions in Warren,
MI, which makes the OEM-branded
EV chargers marketed by Audi, BMW,
Cadillac, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz
and Smart, for both consumers and
auto dealers.
Faster built-in chargers are
enabling vehicles to recharge
faster, which has led to increased
amperage in the outboard charging station device, to 40 amps (and
10.2kW) in 2015 from 16 amps (and
3.3kW) in 2011, for mainstream EVs.
The highest output of those, the
"DC fast chargers," are becoming
modular, smaller and more efficient. In 2014, for example, BMW
and Bosch introduced the world's
first wall-mounted DC fast charger,
which is slightly larger than a typical Level 2 charger, she says. Formerly, DC fast chargers were about
the size of a refrigerator.
With modularity has come scalability: "We currently sell a 24kW fast
charger that comprises two 12kW
power modules, so we have the easy
ability to scale up or scale down,
depending on the vehicle manufacturer's needs. That's something we
weren't prepared to do five years
ago," Chamberlain adds. While Bosch
is the sole supplier of a modular DC
fast charger in the U.S., competitors
are selling similar systems elsewhere
in the world, she says.
Chamberlain says, the cost of
charging stations is still too high for
residential customers. Thus a goal
for Bosch is to "de-content" charging
stations by removing features, which
the company has taken steps to do.
One way: deleting the capability to
16

MARCH/APRIL 2016

preset a charging time, an option
automakers offer in their vehicles'
own apps. Another cost-cutting
move: shortening the length of the
cable that stretches from the charging station to the vehicle to 12 feet
from 25 feet because the copper in
the cable is very expensive.
There's also the alternative of eliminating that cable entirely by turning
to wireless inductive charging. "This,
we believe, is the most convenient
charging," says Thomas Muller, vice
president of electric/electronics and
chassis at Volvo Cars in Gothenburg,
Sweden. However, it's the most
expensive because of its additional
hardware requirements: installation
of a charging coil pad on the ground
and a special receiver built into the
vehicle at the factory. Both pieces are
costly on their own, and then there's
the additional cost of a camera
system or autonomous technology to
aid the car in parking precisely over
the pad. Muller says, "These systems
are quite sensitive to where you put
your car."
Volvo is working on two types of
wireless charging technologies for
its EVs-one using a charging pad
affixed to the ground and the other
with a pad that rises off the ground to
make light contact with the vehicle,
Muller says. The technologies need
further maturation and the costs
must be reduced, he asserts.
Although "charging is a fundamental thing that the success of electric
vehicles depends on," it's only part
of the utility equation for EVs, says
Ryan Harty, manager of the environmental business development
office at Honda North America Inc.
in Torrance, CA. Batteries are crucial,
too. "Over time you will see batteries
that are capable of faster and faster
recharging," he says.

own. "I remember getting into a lower-end Toyota
converted to electric and this thing took off like
ludicrous mode in a Tesla," he says.
Ovshinsky's prototype vehicle helped prove the
viability of NiMH batteries for EVs and inspired
Toyota and Honda to pursue electric and hybridelectric cars, Doherty contends. It also served a
secondary purpose he says: promoting the use of
solar cells made by Ovshinsky's company, Energy
Conversion Devices Inc., for charging electric
vehicles.
At the same time, researchers at the Society of
Automotive Engineers (SAE) began developing
other ways to charge EVs, including a push into
wireless charging through technology embedded
in streets-mainly as a way to recharge electric city
buses in their dedicated lanes, Doherty notes.
Now, he adds, the focus has moved to "on-the-fly
charging" technologies
"Largely why
for EV-owning citizens
some of the OEMs and ways to reduce
recharge time to mere
are waiting for
minutes instead of
a standard is
hours. He expects
because it will
municipal and regional
allow wireless
trials of wireless chargEV charging to
ing technologies to comintegrate directly mence before 2020, and
widespread adoption
into the battery
to come around 2030,
in a way that is
with Europe, Japan and
cost-effective,
Scandinavia leading the
across all car
way rather than the U.S.
manufacturers."
As evidence that wireless charging is nearing
-Steve Cummings,
fruition, Doherty points
Evatran Group Inc.
to a reduction in SAE
papers on the technology, which he says signals that manufacturers are
keeping their latest developments private.
Still, one should "never underestimate the powers
of inertia and regulatory zeal and keeping the bottom
line near what the costs are for running a vehicle as
the electric highway gets closer," Doherty warns.
A report in 2014 by Navigant Research projected that wireless could be the leading method
for charging EVs by the middle of the next decade.
The report figures that equipment for light duty
vehicles-such as passenger cars-will reach annual
sales of just under 302,000 units in 2022, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108
percent from 2013.
Much of that growth may come from wireless charging at home, rather than from public
charging.
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N



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