That’s one of the biggest challenges for politicians and car companies trying to increase adoption of electric vehicles: a skeptical consumer base willing to find a reason not to make the switch.
In a report released this week, government researchers said they have found a way to charge electric car batteries to 90 percent in just 10 minutes. The method is likely five years away from making its way to market, scientists said, but would represent a fundamental shift.
“The goal is to get very, very close” [times] you’d see at the gas pump,” said Eric Dufek, a lead author of the study and scientist at the Idaho National Laboratory, a research center run by the Department of Energy.
Major hurdles on the road to switching millions of US drivers to EVs
The report comes as the Biden administration takes on a daunting task: trying to get America off gas-guzzling cars and push them toward electric vehicles. Although billions of government dollars are poured into them, electric vehicles are still seen as elitist, unreliable and cumbersome to charge – leaving people hesitant change.
Currently, car manufacturers and public charging stations use multiple types of chargers that offer different charging times.
The slowest, known as Level 1 chargers, can charge an electric vehicle battery in 40 to 50 hours, according to the US Department of Transportation. Some of the fastest, known as DC chargers, can charge a battery to 80 percent in 20 minutes to an hour.
Tesla’s massive supercharger network can charge 200 miles in 15 minutes, the company said:. But the equipment it uses makes it off-limits to other electric vehicles in the United States. (Later this year, Tesla will release supercharger equipment for non-Tesla drivers to use, the White House said in a statement. June statement.)
Tesla is like an ‘iPhone on wheels’. And consumers are locked into its ecosystem.
But the race to supercharge electric vehicles has faced hurdles over the past decade. It involves the delicate balance of trying to charge an electric vehicle battery faster, but not so fast that a quick charge will damage the battery in the long run or play a role in detonating it. Rapidly charging electric batteries can cause damage, decreasing battery life and performance, scientists say.
“You’ve had batteries when you first got them, they were great, but after a few years or a few charge cycles, they don’t perform very well,” Eric D. Wachsman, director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, an energy research organization told the University of Maryland.
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To solve this problem, Dufek and his team used machine learning to find out how batteries age when charged quickly. Their algorithm was trained to analyze 20,000 to 30,000 data points that indicated how well the battery was charging and whether it was aging or deteriorating.
The methods they’ve found can charge an electric vehicle battery to 90 percent in 10 minutes, Dufek said, but they hope to do better. Over the next five years, Dufek’s team aims to find a way to charge batteries at up to 20 miles per minute, far outperforming the performance of the top-performing superchargers, which hover around 10 to 15 miles per minute.
“I think we can get there,” Dufek said.
Wachsman said the new research is helpful to the field. “Not too fast, not too slow,” he said of Dufek’s approach to attack. “It’s just right in that Goldilocks [zone].”
But the bigger benefit, he said, would be if this method incentivized car companies to make electric vehicles with smaller batteries, since they would now have batteries that charge faster and consumers have less to worry about stopping periodically to get a quick charge. to upload.
“Smaller batteries are cheaper cars,” he said.
There are other problems facing the industry. JD Power and Associates said many electric vehicle customers are not satisfied with public charging stations, mainly because the units are not working properly or are out of service.
“Everyone knows that the gas station landscape is focused on convenience — readily available, quick refueling and quick convenience items,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of global auto industry at JD Power in a statement. “No matter how fast their vehicle charges, EV owners are still reporting that they need more options for doing things during each charging session to increase convenience and fill down time.”
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Marc Geller, a spokesperson for the Electric Vehicle Association, a nonprofit, said it’s largely a perception that faster charging times are a big barrier for customers not to buy electric vehicles. “That perception is clearly both true and largely irrelevant,” he said. The bigger problem, Geller added, was that demand outstrips supply.
Most consumers, he said, will choose to charge their cars at home as it is more convenient and cheaper than public charging stations, which charge more for power than utilities.
“There is simply nothing more reliable or cheaper than charging at home,” says Geller.