As electric vehicles (EVs) gain momentum in the race to win over motorists, one thing is still slowing them down: Many would-be owners can’t warm up to the idea of the long charging time.
If some analyst projections are correct, slow charging EVs may soon be outdated.
A recent study released by Navigant Research foresees steady growth for direct current (DC) fast charging technology. The report, “DC Fast Charging Equipment for Electric Vehicles,” projects shipments of the equipment to grow steadily over the remainder of this decade, reaching nearly 100,000 units a year by 2020.
The technology for DC fast charging has already been developed. In fact, two different technologies are poised to compete for customers and present something of a standards conflict for EV manufacturers and equipment vendors. The so-called charger was developed by Japanese automakers and has been adopted to a limited degree around the world. In late 2012, a connector that combines alternating current (AC) and DC fast charging into one unit was also finalized. Navigant expects the standards conflict between the two technologies to persist until 2015 or 2016.
Other barriers also stand in the way of widespread DC fast-charging adoption. They include the high cost of the equipment and the general slow pace of EV adoption.
On the other hand, the benefits of the technology are impossible to overlook, not the least of which is the drastically reduced charge time. According to Navigant, vendors report that DC fast charging can reduce the time to a full charge on a standard EV from six or eight hours to less than an hour.
In a recent webinar also conducted by Navigant, analysts for the company echoed the sentiment that the trend toward DC fast charging is probably inevitable. They noted that EV supply equipment vendors are ahead of the market, and automakers are already coming out with fast charging-compatible models in North America, Europe and Asia.
With these favorable winds behind it, Navigant expects DC fast charging to become the leading mode of EV refueling in the next three to four years.