Car Batteries Lagging Behind Fast Car Chargers

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【Summary】Automakers may finally be packing more range into electric vehicles, but battery technology in cars is still well behind what modern fast chargers are capable of.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 21, 2019 10:40 AM PT
Car Batteries Lagging Behind Fast Car Chargers

The rate at which electric vehicles continue to progress is staggering. The modern crop of EVs have more range than ever before, can recharge in less time than ever before, and are genuine alternatives to gas-powered cars. It's safe to say that current electric cars are better than they've ever been. But if there's one area where EVs continue to struggle, it's in charge times. And with the introduction of fast chargers, the blame solely lies with EVs.  

How Charging Has Become A Priority

Take a quick peek at the Chevrolet Bolt's charging specs. The electric hatchback has a range of 238 miles, which is excellent. If you were to drain the battery and plug into an 120-volt outlet, you're looking at roughly 60 hours of charging. Plug into a Level 2 (240-volt) charger, and those times are improved drastically to 9.5 hours. That's still a long, long time, but much better than two and a half days. If you happen to find a fast charger, you can get 90 miles back in 30 minutes. That's the best possible outcome, but it still doesn't match filling up a gas car, which takes what, maybe five minutes tops.

More and more automakers are looking into fast chargers, but it doesn't really matter if batteries in cars can't handle being charged rapidly. Range anxiety may have disappeared, but extremely long charge times has now become the negative focal point.

"It's about impacting that buying decision in the dealership," David Finn, chief executive officer of Tritium Pty, an Australian supplier of high-power chargers, told The Detroit News. "The main reason you own a car is for the freedom to do whatever you want, whatever you feel like it. That will always be playing on your mind if you have a slow charger."

The outlet claims that EVgo Services LLC rates a slow-speed public charger gives EVs a range of roughly 20 miles every hour. On average, a fast charger is capable of providing 75 miles of range in 30 minutes. The latest generation of super fast chargers, like Tritium's that's used in solar-car racing, is capable of 215 miles in 10 minutes.

Are Charge Times Improving?

Various companies, including Volkswagen's Electrify America, Tesla, and Ionity are all looking into putting super-fast chargers on public roads. But those are still some time off. The Detroit News claims that Volkswagen's super chargers are another 20 years off, but the electric arm has started to come out with 350-kW chargers in California.  

Being able to fully charge your electric car in a similar timeframe as a gasoline car is still off in the distance, but it's important to point out that automakers are drastically improving. The recently released Audi e-tron, for instance, is capable of getting 80 percent of its charge in just 30 minutes. Hooking one of Tesla's Model X SUVs onto the brand's superchargers brings 70 percent of total charge in just 30 minutes.

EVs are catching up to superchargers and will, eventually, bring excessively long charge times down to a reasonable level. But just like EVs have progressed, charging will slowly improve, too.

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