Six Technology Innovations in Electric Vehicle Charging
Lower electric vehicle (EV) prices, continuous improvements in vehicle range, and new EV models coming to market are fueling a steady rise in EV sales. So are government and private sector investments in EV charging infrastructure, along with broader adoption of smart EV charging to deliver reliable, renewable energy to EVs while meeting the needs of drivers and local grids. Meanwhile, the EV charging industry continues to innovate and attract new investments in developing technology that will improve the EV charging experience. Here are six such technology innovations that are market-ready or close to launching.
On-site energy resources and smart energy management
EV charging operators, including public EV charging network operators and hosts as well as private operators like fleet depots, office building owners, and auto dealers, are using on-site energy storage and energy generation in addition to electricity from the grid to power their EV charging. Smart energy management software optimizes the use of these distributed energy resources — typically battery banks and solar panels — to reduce demand charges and lower operational costs, enable energy resiliency, and maximize use of renewable energy.
Battery innovations for faster charging and lower costs
Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries are gaining traction in the marketplace with the recent announcement that Ford Motor Company is building a plant to make these alternative EV batteries for use in some models. LFP batteries charge faster than the standard nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) EV batteries and cost less to manufacture but are less energy dense and have shorter range. Investment dollars are also flowing to the development of solid-state batteries for their promise of greater range, shorter charging times and improved safety.
The move to OCPP 2.0.1
Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is an application protocol for communication between electric vehicle charging stations and a central management system. It is an international, open-source, vendor-independent standard which is available for free. The latest version, OCPP 2.0.1, has new and improved features for device management, transaction handling, credit card payments, security, smart charging functionalities, support for display and messaging and the extensibility of OCPP. OCPP 2.0.1 also offers the option to support plug and charge for electric vehicles supporting the ISO 15118 protocol.
Market-ready bidirectional charging
Bidirectional charging, also known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability, is moving from industry vision to market reality with the availability of commercial offerings for vehicle-to-home (V2H) that enable EV owners to power home appliances and keep the lights on during a power blackout. Some new EV models also come equipped with AC power outlets that allow the EV battery to power plug-in electric devices, equipment, and appliances. Bidirectional charging is the subject of pending legislation in California, which would require all EVs sold in the state after January 1, 2027, to be V2G-capable.
Wireless EV charging moves to early adoption and roadway trials
Charging without cables. It’s common today for smartphones and emerging in the EV marketplace, with the promise of making EV ownership more convenient and appealing. There are two ways wireless charging can work. One is electromagnetic inductive charging, where the EV parks over a charging pad that uses electromagnetic waves to transfer energy to the EV battery. This approach is in the marketplace today but limited to a few EV models and mostly home-charging use. The other is dynamic in-road wireless charging, which uses devices embedded in the roadway that supplies electricity to the EV as it is driving. Numerous trials are in place to demonstrate the feasibility of dynamic charging which, with widespread implementation, could lead to smaller EV batteries that are continuously charged and no more range anxiety.
Seamless payments with more options for EV drivers
The EV charging industry is working hard to make paying for EV charging as simple and seamless as possible for EV drivers. Some network operators offer contactless payments via mobile apps, QR codes or RFID cards associated with an account and a payment method. What about out-of-network charging? EV charging operators are also equipping their charge points to accept contactless (NFC) payments via smartphone wallets and bank cards. Plug & Charge and Autocharge technologies create a seamless experience by allowing a driver to simply connect a charging cable to the EV to start charging. Payment takes place in the background, following a one-time registration with the EV charging network.
It all adds up to EV charging which is smarter, faster, lower cost, and environmentally friendly. With an expected investment of $200 billion in EV charging by 2026, along with innovative new partnership models and increasing standardization, EV drivers can expect continuous improvement in EV charging over the years to come.