Demand for fast-charging points for electric vehicles set to boom

electric charger

Demand for fast-charging points for electric vehicles set to boom

The automotive industry is electrifying its vehicles at a rapid pace. Provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, Virta, says that there were a little more than one million EVs on the roads globally in 2015; by 2021, that figure had jumped to approximately 16 million. Governments around the world are pushing for more EVs and consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with them, so is likely that demand will continue to grow strongly.

As millions of electric vehicles hit the roads in the next decade, the need for fast-charging stations will also grow rapidly. These are typically direct-current (DC) chargers, which can deliver up to 350 kilowatts of energy or more to the battery of an EV an hour. By contrast, standard alternating-current (AC) chargers found at homes, workplaces and public settings deliver only 7 to 22 kilowatts per hour.

Rapid roll-out

There has been significant activity in this area in this year alone. Danish cooperative OK a.m.b.a (OK), the largest fuel retailer in Denmark, is planning to roll-out more than 300 fast chargers from charging-station manufacturer Tritium. By the end of 2022, there were just 784 EV fast chargers in place in Denmark.

In Sweden, meanwhile, European EV fast-charging giant IONITY and property company Regio have announced plans to bring 108 EV fast-charging points online at 12 charging stations. IONITY currently has 23 stations, with a total of 136 EV fast charging ports, in Sweden.

Perhaps most significantly, bp plans to invest $1 billion in EV charging points across the USA by 2030. bp currently operates 22,000 EV charge points worldwide, but aims to have more than 100,000 in place globally by 2030. Around 90% of these will be rapid or ultra-fast charging points.

Technology evolves

Fast chargers must be affordable, reliable and efficient. Each component from which they are made has to be precisely engineered. Further, battery technology will have to evolve to account for the increasing use of fast chargers. All EV batteries have built-in charging speed limits, which are set by the car’s on-board charge ports, to prevent them from overheating. A 350 kilowatt fast-charging station might, in theory, be able to charge a 95 kilowatt/hour battery in about 16 minutes, but the battery itself might only accept about 150 kilowatts of power at most, placing its actual charging speed limit closer to 40 minutes.

Making connections

In parallel with this work, the means for connecting fast-charging stations to EVs will have to be refined. Power connectors, for instance, are widely used in EVs in charging units and the motors used to drive each wheel. Manufacturers are striving for ways to improve the efficiency of power connectors to minimise power losses, while at the same time reducing their weight and cost.

Precision cold forming is a fast and economical way of producing precision parts, such as power connectors. Indeed, over 300 such parts can be manufactured every minute using cold forming and scrap rates can be reduced by up to 80% compared with machining processes.

Dawson Shanahan is renowned for the precision of its cold-forming processes, which it has used for several years to produce power connectors that optimise the performance of charging units for EVs. Typically, it manufactures high-power connectors from highly electrically conductive, oxygen-free materials to ensure there are no power losses.

To find out more about Dawson Shanahan’s work in this area, click here.