In May 584 000 cars and 935 000 light duty vehicles were sold in the United States. Only 1.1 %, or 16,788 to be precise, of these vehicles were electric (EV) or plug-in electric (PEV)s. Not a big number, but in terms of battery storage the numbers get more significant.
For the month of May, the total amount of battery storage in the EVs and PEVs cars is 570 MWh. In comparison, according to GTM Research/ESA US Energy Storage Monitor, for all the first quarter this year 234 MWh of stationary “utility scale” electric storage was added and another 13 MWh of distributed storage was installed behind the electric meter.
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For all car buyers, regardless conventional car or electric car (EV), convenience is a prerequisite. For EVs the charging of the battery is an important part of the convenience.
Even though for most the daily use of an EV there is enough electric energy stored in the battery, range has always been an issue. One solution is a series hybrid vehicle (plug-in electric vehicle, PEV) with a small reciprocating engine as an onboard battery charger. For pure EVs (battery only) the solution for range has been to equip the car with a large battery. Tesla has been a leader in this respect. Model S base model has a 60-kWh battery providing 200 miles’ range. There is also a 90 kWh option providing 300 miles. Nevertheless, for long distance driving that range may not be enough. More energy than what can be stored in the battery is needed. Tesla early recognized the importance of developing a proprietary network of fast chargers, called super chargers. Access to their super charger network, which until last year was free, has been a selling point. The power of the super charger has been increased to 145 kW. It can charge a 90-kWh battery to 50 % of its capacity in 20 minutes.
Four German automakers, BMW, Mercedes, VW and Audi, in 2016 announced the roll-out of “ultra fast” chargers for EVs in Europe. These chargers will deliver 300 kW of power. At a first glance that high amount of power may give the impression it will provide a very fast charge. However, it is not a given, since lithium ion batteries have limitations how fast they can be charged. In fact, fast charging is more about lithium ion chemistries than the power of the charger.