Electric Vehicles – What’s New?

electric vehicle

Electric vehicles are seen as the sustainable future of transportation. There are, however, two issues that have slowed their adoption. Firstly, their range (how many miles they can go on a fully charged battery).  Secondly, the ease of charging the batteries.

Researchers and businesses around the world are working to address these concerns.

The Race for a Better Battery

The Swiss start-up company Innolith claims to have developed a high-density lithium-ion battery that will give electric cars a 600 mile range. Compare that with Tesla’s batteries, which are produced by Panasonic, and can support 330 miles of range in the most expensive models. Innolith’s battery uses an inorganic solvent that is more stable and less flammable than the organic compound used in lithium-ion batteries.

However, Innolilth’s battery has not been independently verified so major car makers haven’t lined up to buy it yet. The company is starting pilot production in Germany. It admits it may take up to three (3) years to commercially launch the product.

Battery Charging…today

electric vehicle
Battery charging time will decrease as Level 3 stations become more common.

On the charging issue, most EV owners prefer the convenience of charging their vehicles at home.  Eighty percent (80%) of current owners do just that. However, they use either with Level 1 (a standard 110 volt outlet) or Level 2 (an upgrade to a 240-volt outlet). Both of these levels use AC (alternating) current. Level 1 can replenish the battery of some limited-range electrics and the hybrids – like the Chevrolet Volt or Fiat 500e – overnight. Vehicle models with larger batteries providing a range of over 200 miles require Level 2 for overnight charging.

Level 3 fast charging is 480 volts and uses a DC (direct current) plug. It is available at some commercial locations, such as Whole Foods markets, parking garages and car dealerships.

Battery Charging…looking forward

What if Level 3 fast charging were to become available for individual homeowners at a reasonable cost? And better yet, what if the electricity could come directly from solar panels to a storage battery, to the car, and bypass the local utility company completely?

The online publication Off Grid Energy Independence https://www.offgridenergyindependence.com reports TU DELFT, along with the companies Power Research Electronics and Last Mile Solutions, has developed a quick charger that can charge cars directly from solar panels using DC current. The product is still in development stage.

electric vehicle
Roof top solar panels would enable residents to more easily and cheaply charge electric vehicles

Such a technology would be a boon for places like Rossmoor. For example, many living units and carports at Rossmoor have limited electricity. Certainly not enough to support multiple EV charging outlets. If solar panels could be installed on carport or garage roofs to provide electricity for EVs without the need to connect to the utility grid, that problem would be solved.

Major car companies are investing heavily in electric vehicles. For example, Volkswagen is converting a gas engine car factory into an electric car factory. The factory will produce over 300,000 cars per year. Hopefully major technological advances in residential charging via solar energy won’t be far behind.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, Sept. 18, 2019.  Email Anne Foreman at anneforeman60@gmail.com

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