Can technology breakthroughs solve the problems of charging and range for electric vehicles?

Whether it is a new way of charging or a new battery, research is constantly being conducted to make sure electric cars are a success story and combustion engines are relegated to the history books.

Can tech solve the problem of electric vehicles? image

The use of supercapacitors as the main source of power for electric cars may be a long way in the future, but would provide fast charging of only a few minutes, and a dense energy source with a long life of 3,000 – 5,000 charging cycles

Electric cars are the future for roads. Over the next 20 years electric power will cease to be a choice for the environmentally conscious and will become the only option available. However, people have been spoilt with combustion engines. These can be refuelled in an average of 7 minutes and can travel for 400 or more miles before they need to be topped up.

Changing to a vehicle which may need several hours charging before it can go anywhere and may only be able to travel 200 miles before it needs to be plugged in again, has given rise to range anxiety and charging woes. No matter how futuristic, technologically advanced, or luxurious electric cars are, many drivers will not be won over until the range and charging barriers are removed.

How can people currently charge their electric vehicles?

At home

When looking at the current electric car owners, 80% choose to charge at home. The slowest way to charge an electric car is to plug it into your normal domestic 3 pin socket, which will provide a 3kW power supply.

To achieve a full charge in this way will take around 12 hours. To speed this process up, you need more watts, the more watts you have, the faster the charge. At home you can install a wall box, to provide a ‘fast’ charge. This will provide anywhere from 7-22kW of power, reducing your charging time to around 4-5 hours for an 80% charge. Your wall box will need to be professionally installed; to encourage electric car owners a government scheme will help with 75% of this cost up to £500.

At public charging stations

If you would like to upgrade from a fast charge to a ‘rapid’ charge, then you need to leave the comfort of your home and go in search of your nearest public charging station. Here you will find a rapid charger which provides 50kW of power. These chargers can provide most electric cars with 80% of charge in only 30 minutes.

These chargers are much faster than anything you can have at home, but still not near the 7 minutes it takes to fill up with petrol or diesel, so even more powerful ‘superfast’ chargers are on the way.

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