Electric vehicles (EVs) are one of the more significant technological developments that will radically transform our lives in the years to come. Moving from diesel and petrol-powered vehicles to electric ones should reduce air pollution in our towns and cities, making us healthier and protecting the planet at the same time.

It might seem that for the driver this change of energy source will make little difference. After all, an electric car is still a car. You still must pass a driving test and put up with the annoyance of other motorists! If we look a little deeper, we realise that this is a significant change in how we will commute ourselves.

Battery Technology

One reason that the take up of EVs has been relatively slow is the anxiety about running out of battery when halfway through a journey.

Charge points for EVs are still few and far between. There are many improvements in battery technology being investigated that should hopefully increase the maximum charge capacity. Even if these are a resounding success, for EVs to replace combustion engine vehicles, we will need to develop the infrastructure.

AI and Data Analytics

This is where big data is going to be a game-changer. EVs collect masses of data every time they hit the road. They can use this data for many purposes. It can improve driver experience by helping them to plan trips and avoid traffic and giving them real-time information about tire pressure, battery charge rates, and acceleration levels.

This data can help to design and build the required infrastructure to allow EVs to dominate our roads. Big data can inform road building programs, allow planners to identify where and when they will be extra demand on the grid, and identify the best locations for power charging points.

Where to put charging stations

Ford recently fitted 160 vans with devices to record data. From there, they collected 500 million data points of information. This data can now work out exactly where charging stations are needed, reducing how often you would have to make an out of the way journey.

An efficient roll-out of charging points based on this important data will allow EV use to become more widespread and prevent unnecessary and costly developments in the long run.

Could super-fast battery swaps replace charging points for EV’s in the future?

One of the biggest hurdles facing the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by the masses is the logistical challenge of how to recharge batteries.

Even with the fastest public charging points, it can take 10-15 minutes to get enough charge into an EV’s battery to give a user a significant range boost for their vehicle.

But Chinese automaker Geely believes its technology can cut that time down to just 90 seconds. The solution? Battery swaps, not battery charging.

How could a battery swap work

The idea is that a car is driven into a single-storey garage-like structure, and the discharged battery is automatically removed and a new, fully charged one, fitted. The emptied battery pack is then recharged, eventually to be swapped into another car.

Geely’s 90-second battery swap station in the city of Jinan might be the fastest, but it’s not the only game in town when it comes to battery swaps. Beijing Aulton has the most swap stations in China, though its tech takes three minutes to swap a battery over.

Even so, that’s significantly faster than a charging point could manage, and an Aulton 3.0 station has the capacity to process up to 420 vehicles in a single day.

Modular batteries – the key to success

The reason battery-swapping works at all is because most modern EVs are designed with their battery packs sitting under the floor of the vehicle, between the wheels. This is due to the weight of the batteries – sitting them low in the car is important to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible in the vehicle to ensure it’s safe to drive on the road.

The positive side-effect of this is that, if a car and a battery are designed correctly, it’s a relatively simple job to slide them in and out. Geely says its quick-swap battery design is consistent with mainstream EV design standards and that its batteries have a service life of eight years or 600,000 kilometres.

It also says that it has tested its locking mechanisms and quick-change connectors in over 16,000 tests and 800,000 kilometres – equivalent to a 10-year service life.

What’s the problem?

The challenge, of course, for mainstream adoption of battery-swap technology is that currently global vehicle manufacturers do not design their EVs around standardised battery packs – and it would take a long time and a lot of cross-industry cooperation to see homogenised battery-swap technology shared across the automotive industry.

Author: Appthisway.com