With the anticipated boom of the electric vehicle market, the whole sector needs to evolve. Firstly, charging stations have two objectives: to be even more user-friendly and provide new uses for the electric car.
With this in mind, fast charging expands the range of possibilities. Public authorities, private-sector operators and manufacturers are well aware of this and are making its rollout a high priority.
Similar to when you need to charge your smartphone quickly, sometimes you also need a fast charge for your electric vehicle. While standard charging stations and domestic outlet charging mean that you can charge your electric vehicle overnight or in a few hours, fast charging – which refers to wattage of at least 43 kW – cuts down this charging time in a big way.
With fast-charging stations, just 30 minutes is enough to charge your car battery efficiently. So a short stop is sufficient to get optimal range back for the next leg of your trip. This makes it possible to envisage multiple possibilities for using an electric vehicle.
The charging time of an electric vehicle essentially depends on two factors: the battery specifications and the type of charging station used. Regarding the latter, there’s a difference between “regular” charging stations (with wattage of between 3 and 30 kW using alternative current, or “AC”), and fast-charging stations (from 30 to over 60 kW using direct current, or “DC”). But the performance of the vehicle’s battery also affects the charging speed. Specifically, the wattage that the car’s charger can withstand is a key factor in fast charging capacity.
In this respect, the Caméléon technology built into Renault electric vehicles is a real asset. This smart charger adapts to the specifications of AC charging stations to get the maximum wattage. New Renault ZOE, which comes with a Z.E. 50 battery, therefore keeps its crown as the electric vehicle with the fastest charging time on standard public charging stations in Europe.
Although working out the price of charging an electric vehicle is done on a case by-case basis, we can nevertheless note that, in France, the cost generally ranges between 3 and 5 euros for 30 minutes on a fast-charging station, making the service very affordable. In other European countries, fast charging is paid for by the kWh. For example, the price for a full charge at 30 kWh is around 9 euros in England and 12 euros in Germany.
Alongside paid charging stations, a growing number of parking lots are offering free fast charging (shopping mall parking lots). So there are more and more opportunities to charge your vehicle quickly and affordably.
While the number of public charging points is growing, fast charging stations for electric cars respond to a need to ensure range over long distances. This is why fast charging networks are mainly found on highways and major roads. The setup of “highway corridors” means that you can plan a trip of several hundred kilometers with complete peace of mind.
In addition, having discovered in it an effective tool for customer loyalty retention, several chain stores – including Ikea and Lidl in Europe – are working on installing fast charging stations. With this smart investment, drivers become customers while their vehicle is charging.
Along highways, in urban and suburban areas, operators are looking to make inroads everywhere: great news for electric vehicle users, who are seeing new fast-charging stations pop up in their hometowns or along their commuting routes.
As Europe’s most popular electric vehicle, the Renault ZOE city car is the perfect model to enjoy the benefits of fast charging. New ZOE therefore recovers a WLTP* range of up to 125 km in 2 hours at a roadside charging point, and just 30 minutes to recover a WLTP range of 150 km at a fast-charging station*.
Moreover, Renault is making access to fast charging even easier with its connected services. The MY Renault app maps all the charging stations located along a route.
Thanks to these services and its battery performance, fast-charging the Renault ZOE is no more than a simple ritual, and driving an electric car is made even easier!
There are a great deal of initiatives aimed at developing the potential of fast charging. By 2020, in France, 4 in 10 charging stations will offer fast charging, compared to around 10% currently. The UK has already reached this figure of 40% in November 2019. This trend will make it possible to support the growth of the electric vehicle sector with peace of mind (worldwide electric vehicle sales are expected to reach 11 million by 2025, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance).
But that’s not all. In order to plan ahead for the needs of their future vehicles, manufacturers are already getting the groundwork done by rolling out ultra-fast charging stations. For example, the “E-Via E-Flex” program started up by Groupe Renault aims to roll out these charging stations along highways in southern Europe as a first step.
Other projects are also being developed behind the scenes. It’s clear that upcoming technological innovations will make fast charging an integral part of daily life.
* The duration and distances mentioned here are calculated from results obtained by the New ZOE during the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, standardized cycle: 57% urban driving, 25% suburban driving, 18% highway driving) which aims to represent the actual conditions of a vehicle’s use. However, they cannot foresee the type of journey after recharging. The charging time and recovered range also depend on the temperature, battery wear, charging station wattage, driving style and level of charge.
Copyrights : Christian Fournier, Frithjof OHM