The fuel of the future: Electric vehicle ultrafast charging pumps
The display of a Hyundai Kona Electric at last week’s Manila International Automobile Show (MIAS), plus Nissan Philippines’ recent announcement that the Nissan Leaf will be available within the year—these are signs that the electric vehicle (EV) era is on its way here.
The Nissan Leaf fully electric mini subcompact car is the world’s best-selling EV with more than 380,000 units sold globally since the original car was launched in 2010. On Jan. 8, 2019, Nissan Motor Co. unveiled the Nissan Leaf e+ with a new powertrain, additional power and range, and Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
The Hyundai Kona EV, launched in South Korea in the first half of 2018, is the world’s first fully electric subcompact crossover SUV. It was named the “Best in EV” by the 2019 Wards Auto Competition, the 2019 Edmunds Editor’s Choice Awards, Car and Driver, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and other organizations.
Consumers and ecologists welcome the arrival of these EVs, and the efforts of the Board of Investments and the Electric Vehicles Association of the Philippines (EVAP), to catch up with the electrification of the global transportation system.
The environmental, socio-economic, and public health benefits of the EV era are anticipated by the general public.
In 2018, 1.71 million EVs were sold worldwide. The phenomenal growth of EV sales is traced to prices tumbling down, and battery life and driving ranges getting longer. Car manufacturers are scrambling to be future-proofed by coming up with all-new EV models and producing EV variants of their best-selling gas guzzlers.
Analysts at JP Morgan estimate that by 2025, EVs and hybrid electric vehicles will account for 40 percent of all new vehicle sales globally, up from about 1 percent in 2016. According to Bloomberg, EVs will comprise more than half of all new car sales in 2040.
To meet the power demand, about $50 billion of investment in EV charging equipment is needed through 2030, according to McKinsey & Co. The problem in Third World countries like the Philippines is the lack of public charging pumps, not to mention the funds to install a lot of them.
There are three levels of EV chargers: a slow-speed public charger takes an hour to provide about 32 km of driving distance. The next level up, a fast charger, can add about 112 km in 30 minutes. An ultrafast charger supplies more than 346 km of driving range in 10 minutes.
The charging capacities of EVs have doubled in the space of a few years. But the speed at which current EVs can recharge is limited by factors such as the size of their battery pack, the voltage the pack can accept, and the charger’s current.
EV CHARGERS IN MANILA
Over here, there have been press releases about EV charging stations being put up, such as the one at the Department of Environment & Natural Resources central office built by Meralco and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) following a grant of 10 i-MIEV and Outlander PHEV units from MMPC’s parent company in Japan.
In Oct. 2017, QEV Philippines, a partnership between businessman Endika Aboitiz and Enrique Banuelos, announced a team-up with SM Megamalls to install EV fast-charging stations in at least 100 mall branches across the country. The charging units would be supplied by ABB, a Swiss multinational company specializing in EV hardware that has deployed chargers in 70 countries.
But nothing more was heard afterwards about EV chargers at SM malls.
In May 2018, QEV PH reappeared, this time with Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. to reveal a plan to build pilot EV charging pumps supplied by ABB in 10 Shell service stations within the year.
In June 2018, Unioil Petroleum PH, Inc., the first oil firm to put up an EV charging pump, opened its second EV charger at its Edsa-Guadalupe (northbound) service station in Makati with the latest CHAdeMO fast-charging DC standard unit compatible with EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
The CHAdeMO unit can recharge an EV from zero to full tank in 15 minutes, so four EVs can be juiced per hour. Unioil intended to put up 10 more charging stations in the National Capital Region and surrounding provinces in 2018, but so far there has been no news about these 10. Anyway, Unioil is offering free charging service to EVs until such time there is sufficient demand.
Meanwhile, thousands of EV charging units are being installed along highways from China to Germany and the United States with the capacity to charge enough for 32 kilometers of driving range in one minute.
Automakers and energy companies are leading the global rollout of these ultrafast charging pumps to help ease consumer concerns that EVs can’t make uninterrupted long trips and must face inconvenient waits to recharge on the go.
The growing demand for fast-charging units has generated start-ups like BTC Power (Broadband Telecom Power, Inc.), which was acquired last July by Innology SE, a leading technology provider across all EV hardware markets. Based in Santa Ana, California, BT Power has a newly expanded manufacturing facility in Cebu, Philippines.
Current battery packs are incompatible with the fastest chargers and the first EVs able to fully utilize the new pumps won’t debut until later this year.
Although it may be years before battery packs able to handle ultrafast chargers go mainstream, some new EVs including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Jaguar I-Pace can already recharge faster than previous generations.
Porsche will introduce its electric Taycan sports car later this year. Thanks to a larger battery and the ability to operate at a higher voltage, the Taycan will be the first EV capable of taking full advantage of the fastest chargers.
Tesla, which has more than 12,000 chargers worldwide, is boosting the speed of its own refueling units to 120 km of charge in five minutes—still lagging the ultrafast models.
Ionity GmbH, a consortium of carmakers including Volkswagen and Ford that is partnering with energy giants such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Kuwait Petroleum International, is building about 400 stations—with as many as six ultrafast chargers each—on European highways to compete with networks backed by Renault SA, and Nissan Motor Co.
With the greening via electrification of the global automotive industry on the horizon, our Department of Energy needs to future-proof the country’s mobility by prioritizing the building of a nationwide EV charging network. Sources: The Japan Times, 247WallSt.com, greencarcongress.com