Over 100 manufacturers now offer pure electric on-road cars yet their combined sales remain much less than one company, Ingersoll Rand, achieves with pure electric golf cars. The main problem is that there is almost nowhere to plug them in. Most people cannot even plug them in at home because they live in apartments. Add to that plug in hybrids as they start to have more than joke levels of pure electric range.
The University of California Davis is famous for its analysis of where hybrid and pure electric vehicles are headed and for its advancement of the technology and it will be giving its views on hybrids in 2020 at a forthcoming IDTechEx conference. For most people, there will continue to be nowhere to plug them in for many years, so the price premium will buy them nothing. Fiat is amongst the companies further progressing vehicles with integral solar power but better charging stations and far more of them are still essential.
Of the on-road electric vehicles, IDTechEx analysis shows that hybrids will be bought in the largest numbers over the next ten years. There are even affordable hybrid retrofit kits about to be announced by KPIT Cummins in India.
Many organizations, from electricity utilities to car manufacturers, are investing in charging infrastructure. More are needed but there is another problem. You cannot take 10 hours to charge your car at a roadside stop or even at work. Faster charging is possible with some electric vehicles but very fast charging calls for power storage at the charging station because the grid cannot provide that current directly.
Then even the exciting performance cars coming along such as the Lighting sports car from the UK will be able rapidly to capture ample electricity, even when driven hard. Many innovations are coming along for fast charging and for more environmental charging such as Toyota and others having solar powered charging stations. However, none of it is yet being adopted on an appropriate scale as yet.
GE has just announced GE WattStation which significantly decreases time needed for vehicle charging and, using smart grid technology, allows utility companies to manage the impact of electric vehicles on the local and regional grids.
Steve Fludder, vice president of GE Ecomagination, recently said, 'Widespread electric vehicle adoption depends on having charging stations that integrate the need for quick charging with the personal need for easy functionality. GE WattStation will meet this challenge."
GE WattStation typically decreases electric vehicle charging time from between 12 and 18 hours to as little as four to eight hours compared to standard charging, assuming a full-cycle charge for a 24kWh battery.
These attractively designed terminals in many color options will be commercially available globally in 2011, says GE, which also plans to unveil a specialised home version of the charger later this year. GE has also recently partnered with non-profit initiative Project Get Ready to advance electric vehicle adoption.
In May, GE Global Research also agreed with Nissan to explore new smart-charging infrastructure technology. Nissan is the only major car company primarily betting on pure electric vehicles rather than hybrids and it has been very energetically supporting local charging infrastructure initiatives across the world because it cannot succeed unless they succeed.
IDTechEx estimates that there are 380,000 gas stations ("service stations") in the world serving gasoline and diesel to vehicles with range of perhaps 400 miles on average. The newer electric vehicles will manage one quarter of that range so do they need about about 1.5 million charging stations? That would please GE. Actually millions of homes can have ground floor, off-road charging capability and none have been able to serve gasoline or diesel. Perhaps you will not be able to charge up at home for half the occasions when you need to use your pure electric car with 100 miles range (rising to 500 miles over the next ten years?). So we need 750,000 away-from- home charging stations in 2020 if all on-road vehicles are to be pure electric by a plausible 2025-2030? How many charging stations will be needed in the meantime if the whole project is not to end in tears? Set against that how many are planned? Answers below please.
IDTechEx is positive about on-road pure electric vehicles, predicting over 1.8 million sold in 2020, while recognising this is the decade of the hybrid selling in much larger numbers. There will be places in the world where adequate charging is in place long before it appears elsewhere, but the number of such regions will be the main constraint on take up, we believe. See "Electric Vehicles 2010-2020".
Image source: GE
And attend: Future of Electric Vehicles which uniquely covers the whole electric vehicle market - land, sea, air whether hybrid or pure EV - with emphasis on future breakthroughs.