New technologies are removing the obstacles to electric vehicle ownership, increasing their range and ease of use while also reducing drivers’ carbon footprint.
Global electric vehicle sales reached a record one million in 2017, an increase of 54 per cent on 2016, according to International Energy Agency figures.
BloombergENF estimates annual sales will grow to 30 million by 2030 as electric vehicles become cheaper to make than cars with internal combustion engines.
However, there remain a number of issues to be resolved before they displace combustion engines on a large scale.
Charging anxiety, or the fear of not being able to find adequate electricity to power a vehicle, is one of the main impediments for prospective buyers, while also impacting the behavior of existing owners, McKinsey & Company has found.
“Electric vehicle drivers who don't charge overnight at home tend to charge their vehicles in small increments, either by topping up before or after the working day or fighting over the limited charging available at work," says Torben Spitzer, VP of Product and Marketing at FreeWire Technologies.
“This doesn't just act as a disincentive to buy an electric vehicle, it places a lot of pressure on charging stations and the grid at two peaks in the day."
FreeWire, a Silicon Valley-based company founded to encourage people to embrace electric vehicles, has developed Mobi, a mobile charger that plugs into the same electrical circuit as a domestic washing machine or dryer, providing a flexible solution for charging commuter vehicles while allowing for favorable electricity rates and energy storage solutions for future charges.
Greg Callman, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Energy Technology, Macquarie Capital
It is also developing a 120kW supercharger, with the potential to give an electric vehicle a 480-mile range in just one hour.
Spitzer hopes this will help revolutionize the convenience of electric vehicles, speeding up the charging process, increasing the driving range and reducing the reliance on costly charging infrastructure.
He says when combined with more powerful car batteries, the technology makes it possible to take long road trips with greater convenience and confidence.
FreeWire’s mobile energy technology has many applications, including in areas such as entertainment, construction and disaster relief, Spitzer says.
Technologies such as FreeWire’s could have a broader impact on energy consumption, says Greg Callman, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Energy Technology, Macquarie Capital.
“When you combine advances in charging, battery storage and clean energy, such as wind and solar power, you can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create a quieter, more efficient world with close to zero emissions," he says.
“It won't happen everywhere at once, but if you employ the technology where it makes sense, there comes a tipping point where electricity becomes the natural choice for transportation, simply because it is the most economic or convenient."