Alok Dubey, UK Country Manager at Monta EV charging app
You may not have even driven one yet, let alone have one on the top of your Christmas list, so this statement may seem bold, but the electric vehicle (EV) band-wagon is gathering serious pace.
Many industry observers believe the UK has already passed the tipping point where sales of electric vehicles will very rapidly overwhelm petrol and diesel cars. Particularly as in August, second-hand EV’s outsold diesel vehicles for the first time ever.
Major manufacturers are also upping their game. Jaguar is planning to sell only electric cars from 2025, Volvo from 2030, and even British sports car company Lotus following suit, selling only electric models from 2028.
So as we race into 2022, there are five areas of the EV market that are embracing technology trends to help supercharge the industry:
- Smart charging
The idea behind smart charging is simple: unlike conventional (or ‘unintelligent’) chargers, smart chargers are able to communicate with each other, your car, and the grid to provide better costs and energy consumption.
For example, by letting drivers know when the energy demand around them is low, and therefore cheaper to charge, they can better schedule their charges while paying less to do so. Drivers can still plug in the car to the point as soon as they get home, but just that it wouldn’t start charging until the right time.
Smart charging also promotes better use of energy. Electric vehicles are designed to be charged over time and don’t always have to be charged instantly or rapidly because drivers don’t always need a full battery. Depending on how much energy the car needs, charges can be scheduled to go up to only 80% once a week, which also helps prolong the life of the battery.
Smart charging can even go one step further, for example, if drivers decide they want to just fill the battery using renewable energy, lower CO2 emissions, or low energy tariffs. All they have to do is drive up, plug it in and let the technology do its job.
The overall result of smart charging? A cheaper, more energy-efficient and sustainable way to top up your car.
- Load balancing
An additional key feature for the future is load balancing, which can also be supported by smart charging, especially as energy demands on the national grid increase alongside sales of electric vehicles.
Load balancing distributes the available capacity proportionally over all active charging stations.In doing so, this ensures that optimal charging is provided to all-electric vehicles at the specific location, within the limits of the charging stations’ capacity.
So, instead of paying crazy energy prices on one charger, charge point owners will be able to balance the load and the maximum current between units. For example, if there were four charge points installed and the maximum current is 32, load balancing could share the energy between all four charge points or even just a couple of them if they’re the only ones required.
It’s dynamic, cost-efficient and much more sustainable than what is being done right now to send energy to every single station, even if they’re not being used.
- Vehicle to grid (V2G) charging
Another trend that is set to boost the EV industry is vehicle to grid (V2G) charging.
With so many people now making the switch to electric vehicles, what do we do when the grid is at peak demand or when usage and costs across the UK are at their highest levels? With so much energy sitting in EV batteries, V2G charging is a way to help give power back to the grid.
This would help tremendously, as the demands of EV charging placed on the national grid is a potentially impending crisis heading to the UK. Particularly as there’s so much reliance on electric already and the subsequent price increases as we move away from the reliance on fossil fuels.
And not only would this allow drivers to save and/or earn money from it, but it would also allow their EV batteries to store energy and discharge it back into their own homes or office buildings when it’s most needed.
We’re still some way off from this happening, but the idea that we could push energy back into the grid is a really attractive one that will develop more in 2022.
- Publicly available charge points
Let’s be honest, if you had to stand in long queues, potentially for over an hour to charge your car – would that make you run to your nearest dealership to get your hands on the keys for the latest EV?
Probably not. As it currently stands access to public charging points is similar to that of the wild west.
The upcoming mass uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) needs to come hand-in-hand with the rollout of a dense and accessible recharging network across the continent in order for the market uptake of electric vehicles not to be hindered.
The current worry is that owners will be put off making the switch to electric by the lack of charging facilities available and accessible. Which isn’t surprising.
Technology can help us and should help us to enhance utilisation of public charge points. Queueing systems and opening up private charge point networks can be a big driver and trend for 2022, one that we will certainly welcome!
- Solid-state batteries
In order to convince more drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles, we need to allay the current fears around range anxiety. In 2022, innovation needs to focus on helping vehicles go for longer, on less charge, and using less electricity.
Battery technology is certainly improving, with most electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries. But better batteries that have higher energy density and are safer and lower in costs will be required to sustain more high-tech vehicles, and attention is now being turned towards solid-state batteries which have the potential to help with longevity and range.
Solid-state batteries should in theory be the key here, as eventually EV drivers will be able to travel further on one charge while also having an average battery life of more than 10 years compared to the current 6 year lifespan of lithium-ion batteries.
The challenge standing in their way is time, as solid state batteries need to be readied for mass production. It may be possible that a rival technology like hydrogen fuel cells, will race ahead and cross the finish line first, but time will tell.
One thing we do know is that there’s no doubting the electric car revolution is up and running, thanks mainly to well-heeled early adopters.
We now need to keep our ears to the ground and take advantage of the ever-evolving, exciting technology that we will soon have within our reach.