How fast are some of the best EV charging stations

5 min read

Electric vehicles are rapidly gaining huge momentum in the ongoing scenario of rising CO2 emissions and scarce fossil fuel resources. It is due to the ongoing research and development of fast charging solutions; users find electric vehicles as the most viable option. The electric vehicle (EV) charging systems are categorized as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 based on the output power delivered. Level 3 chargers are the real game-changer of electromobility. These level 3 chargers are designed to offer power ranging from 150 kW to 400 kW and more and are operated by private networks which directly connect the charging station to the electricity grid. Some of the prominent players active in the electric vehicle charging station include ABB, Electrify America, Voltempo, EVgo, ChargePoint, and others.

After the global pandemic, the year 2020 witnessed a major boom in the adoption of electric vehicles. Cars such as Tesla Model 3, ID.3 Volkswagen, Kia EV6, Porsche Taycan, Hyundai Ioniq 5etc. were seen to drive the fast-charging market. These cars are based on the concept of DC fast charging and the batteries installed in these cars are capable of charging from 10 percent to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes when connected to a 350-kW charging line.

Currently, automakers are collaborating with other giant groups in order to expand ultra-rapid charging infrastructure across geographies. Hyundai for instance has collaborated with huge South Korean giant Lotte Group and KB Asset Management. Together the companies have targeted to add 5,000 ultra-fast chargers (UFC) by the year 2025. This involves leasing high-power charging stations to private operators. Another company Porsche has deployed 35 ultra-fast charging stations in partnership with Iberdrola in Southern Europe. The charging station has a capacity of up to 400 kW, capable of recharging car batteries in less than five minutes. Such initiatives by automakers will boost the electric vehicle mobility market.

Types of EV charging at stations in North America

The North American market is witnessing an overwhelming surge in electric mobility due to Level 2 and fast charging solutions, which allow EV users to charge vehicles with ease in their homes. While the Level 1 chargers constitute about 2% of the total EV charger across the US, Level 2 chargers comprise a majority of 80% of charging systems, mainly due to the higher power rating as compared to the Level 1. It was observed that by 2021, 15% of the public EVSE port in the US were DC fast chargers.

The Canadian market specifically is also pursuing the EVCS market potentially well. It has a huge deployment of the Level 2, and an increasing growth was observed in the adoption of DC fast chargers. Tesla is one of the most prominent EVCS vendors in Canada. Other prominent companies include ChargePoint, FLO, EcoCharge, Electrify Canada, Petro-Canada, Greenlots, and SWTCH Energy among others. These companies are expanding their infrastructure and have made several advancements in the roaming network agreements and application interfacing, therefore attracting a huge customer base.

Figure1: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (Level 2 and DC Fast Charging) Across North America

Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center (https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html#/find/nearest?fuel=ELEC )

With more and more DC fast charging solutions are being deployed across North America, the major contributor being the US. It is anticipated that DC fast chargers will further accelerate EV adoption across the US and Canada. Companies like Electrify America, ChargePoint, Blink, Tesla, Volta, and EVgo are some of the prominent vendors of ultra-fast charging systems in the North American market. These companies have deployed numerous fast-charging stations across America thereby easing interstate transportation through highways. Automakers like General Motors and Porsche are partnering with several vendors to expand the production of their latest EV models which are compatible and give high performance to the user when the electric vehicle is charged using fast charging systems.

ABB another prominent electric vehicle charging station manufacturer is seen to be expanding its footprint in the North American market by deploying ABB’s Terra 53 DC charging stations.

EV Charging Station Business Opportunities

The electric vehicle charging business heavily relies on uniformity across the EV charging station standards and equipment. EVCS ecosystem consists of participants such as Charge Point Operators, Energy companies, and Automotive OEMs. In order to increase the adoption of EV technology, CPOs are focusing on offering DC fast charging systems that could rapidly charge the EV batteries within minutes. The Energy companies on the other hand are offering EV fast charging at their existing gas stations by adding the appropriate infrastructure. Further, the Automakers are also considering the EVCS business as a standalone opportunity to expand their business by both entering the new market and expanding their existing EV sales.

The EV charging stations come with an end-to-end customized solution offering. The additional support of backend power infrastructure, compatibility for different EV charging standards, and various software are now easing the usage of electric charging systems. Several places such as public malls, restaurants, workplaces, and housing societies are now having charging stations thereby providing more convenient options to charge their vehicle on the go. China, the US, and Germany are investing heavily in the research and development of the EV charging infrastructure.

It is expected that the electric vehicle will constitute about 30% of the total vehicles by 2025, and this trend will keep on increasing majorly because of the efforts taken by both automakers and users to reduce the CO2 emissions. This ultimately creates the need for high-power and reliable charging stations for a mass number of users. EV users are now leveraging the intelligent options used by the CPOs. These intelligent features include dynamic power allocation, highway transit charging, locating the charging stations, battery conditions, etc., further accelerating the EVCS market.

It can be expected that with several options of AC and DC chargers for home and public charging stations and a wide geographic footprint, companies such as ABB, Tesla, ChargePoint will dominate the electric vehicle charging station market. Even though the ultra-fast charging system looks attractive for the electric vehicle market, it might not find major user adoption due to its high premium prices, thereby limiting the wider adoption of the technology. With more moderately priced charging systems, the CPOs can expect a major turn-on in the establishment of the fast-charging technology.

The ultra-fast charging scenario

ABB has been dominating the electric vehicle charging station market with its Terra HP Generation III. Other comparable systems such as Siemens’ SICHARGE D and Pantograph (for buses and trucks), EV Box’s Utraoniq, Hypernova from WallBox, Electrify America’s DC Fast Chargers and others have proven to be equally good when it comes to offering a fast-charging system ranging from 300 kW to 350 kW in 15 minutes. However, what sets apart the ABB is the wide range of charging and electrification solutions for electric cars, hybrid buses, trucks, vans, ships, and railways and the output power of 360 kW. ABB’s 3rd generation charger has a wide range of output voltage ranging from 150 to 920 VDC and charges one EV at 350 kW or two electric vehicles simultaneously at 175 kW. However, the only setback is the 350 kW or 175 kW (for two EVs) charging line is applicable only to the version with two CCS connections. 

In 2022, Voltempo a leading technology developer of electric automakers launched its HyperCharging. As per the company, the HyperCharging system can deliver 1,000kW of power which is around 2.8 times more than the power delivered by the other comparable charging stations. This solution is able to charge the compatible electric vehicle within 6 minutes and has a unique capability of charging 24 vehicles simultaneously. Through its demonstration, the charging system looks promising for now and Voltempo has further stated that it will be able to build a charging system with the efficiency that could match a similar time that it takes to refuel a conventional, petrol-driven vehicle. Another prominent company, Iberdrola has launched an ultra-fast charging hub for electric vehicles having a capacity of up to 400 kW and is capable of recharging car batteries in less than five minutes and can charge up to 16 vehicles simultaneously.

Figure 2: Analysis of the Electric Vehicle Charging System based on power and charging time taken

Even though, with such high-power charging technologies in place, how much the EV users will be able to leverage the fast-charging technology will entirely depend on the vehicle since not all types of EV batteries are designed to handle such high-power ratings. However, it can be predicted that once the automakers develop the compatible EV batteries and Voltempo expands its geographic presence with the 1000 kW power technology, a major transformation across the electric mobility market is bound to take place.

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