Rocking down to Electric Avenue? Good luck charging your car

Business

Reuters 13 October, 2021 - 08:00am 2 views

Make electric vehicles lighter to maximize climate and safety benefits

Nature.com 13 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

You can also search for this author in PubMed  Google Scholar

Maximilian Auffhammer is a professor at the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, and at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

You can also search for this author in PubMed  Google Scholar

Constantine Samaras is an associate professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

You can also search for this author in PubMed  Google Scholar

Electric vehicles are here, and they are essential for decarbonizing transport. The United Kingdom, California, the European Union, Canada and others plan to phase out the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles as early as 2030 — Norway plans to do it sooner. Consumers are interested. In May, the Ford Motor Company unveiled an all-electric version of its best-selling pick-up truck, the F-150 Lightning. By August, so many customers had reserved one that Ford doubled its initial production target. On 27 September, the company announced that it will spend billions of dollars to build battery factories and an electric-truck plant in the United States. Other companies are expanding their production, too.

Major investments in electric vehicles are welcome news. The sector has come a long way, but many challenges lie ahead. One issue that has received too little attention, in our view, is the increasing weight of vehicles. Pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) now account for 57% of US sales, compared with 30% in 1990. The mass of a new vehicle sold in the United States has also risen — cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks have gained 12% (173 kilograms), 7% (136 kg) and 32% (573 kg), respectively, since 1990. That’s equivalent to hauling around a grand piano and pianist. Similar trends are seen elsewhere in the world.

Heavier vehicles also generate more particulate pollution from tyre wear. They require more materials and energy to build and propel them, adding to emissions and energy use.

How big a problem is this extra weight? A rough comparison between mortality costs and climate benefits shows that it is significant. Under the energy systems operating in most countries today, the cost of extra lives lost from a 700-kg increase in the weight of an electrified truck rivals the climate benefits of avoided greenhouse-gas emissions.

Two main factors are at play: the battery’s weight and supports as well as the cleanliness of the electricity grids it is charged from. In calculating the cost of the extra weight, we used the US Department of Transport’s value of US$11.6 million per avoided fatality. The cost–benefit trade-off holds even if we assume that the social cost of emitting one tonne of carbon dioxide is high, around $150; lower values, such as $50, reduce the estimates for climate benefits. Admittedly, it’s an oversimplification. Realistic cost–benefit analyses for electric vehicles require the evaluation of many other factors. These include the costs from injuries in collisions, the health benefits from cleaner air and the life-cycle impacts of different car designs.

As time goes on, cleaner grids will strengthen the case for electric vehicles. Some countries with lots of clean electricity sources, such as Norway, are already at a point at which electrifying a truck has more climate benefits than safety costs. Others, including the United States, must keep on the path to net-zero electricity systems (see ‘Cost–benefit calculus’). Yet without addressing the weight issue, the benefits for society of going electric will be smaller than they could be in the next decade. Here’s what we think researchers, policymakers and manufacturers need to do to address the issue.

Basic economics tells us that activities that impose costs on others should be taxed. Setting registration charges on the basis of vehicle weight can discourage heavy vehicles and encourage light ones. Collecting weight-based charges also addresses another looming problem for governments — lost revenue from forgone petrol and diesel taxes as more electric vehicles hit the roads.

That’s potentially a lot of money. In 2019, US federal, state and local governments collected more than $112 billion in fuel taxes. Several states have already started levying fees on electric-vehicle owners, in the range of $50–200 per year, to recoup some of that lost tax. It’s fair, they argue, because fuel taxes cover part of the costs of road infrastructure, which electric-vehicle drivers use, too.

Running a car costs much more than people think — stalling the uptake of green travel

A few places have such taxes. In Iowa, for example, the registration fee increases by $0.40 for every 45 kg of vehicle weight. In New York state, the rate is $1.50 per 45 kg for weights above 750 kg; above 1,600 kg, it rises to $2.50. France will go even further next year, charging a whopping €10 (US$11.60) for every kg that exceeds an 1,800 kg threshold. If that law didn’t already exempt electric and hybrid vehicles, it would have added €12,000 to the price of an electric truck, such as the F-150.

Adding travel distance to the fee would also incentivize people to drive less. Oregon is piloting such a programme, giving owners the option to base their registration fees on the distance they drive in a year (at a rate of roughly 1.1 cents per kilometre) in lieu of fixed annual fees. Travel data can be collected by on-board devices; some insurance companies already offer policies that are based on total mileage and other driving habits.

Driving range is important for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Most consumers buy cars on the basis of reach because they worry about losing power or being unable to recharge on a long trip. Yet, most car journeys are short — to the shops or school. In the United States, for example, on average, drivers travel 56 kilometres per day, far short of the maximum range for electric vehicles.

Extending that reach by another 100 kilometres or so every few years will make electric vehicles more practical for people who need to travel long distances regularly, for work for example. But even now, it has diminishing returns for the average driver. Fast-charging infrastructure is being deployed more widely. Producing lightweight batteries will reap rewards immediately.

Ways to lighten batteries include using materials that are more energy-dense, and removing heavier components. For example, solid-state batteries that don’t use liquid electrolytes and have the latest anode chemistries are more compact and could offer higher energy densities than is possible for lithium-ion cells. Lithium–silicon batteries can achieve higher energy densities if manufacturers use more silicon in anodes rather than graphite. Improvements can also be digital — wireless battery management systems can shed up to 90% of the web of wires. Using fewer materials helps manufacturers to save money.

Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough?

Mapping emissions from cars and lorries

About one-third of a vehicle’s mass is conventional steel, down from 44% in 1995. Vehicle structures can be made stronger and lighter by using advanced forms of steel, more aluminium and magnesium, and polymers reinforced with carbon fibre. Each material brings its own cost and technical challenges as well as emissions impacts from production and supply chains. Researchers need to assess these trade-offs to find safe, clean and affordable solutions.

Old ideas to improve street safety should still be encouraged — speed limits, traffic calming road designs and pedestrian-focused infrastructure. Paris, Brussels, Bilbao and other cities have limited speeds on most roads to 30 kilometres per hour.

Urban designers should consider the impacts of zoning and development on driving patterns to minimize average distances travelled and air-pollution impacts that disproportionately burden vulnerable communities. One legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic is a realization of how much work can be done remotely, with less commuting. Solving these challenges will save lives and protect the climate.

Ultimately, to manage climate change, the world needs to stop emitting greenhouse gases from vehicles and power plants. Electric vehicles powered from a clean grid are an essential step in the right direction. A focus on driving lighter, safer, cleaner and less can ensure a better future for everyone.

Nature 598, 254-256 (2021)

Lewis, G. M. et al. Environ. Sci. Technol. 53, 4063–4077 (2019).

PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Anderson, M. L. & Auffhammer, M. Rev. Econ. Stud. 81, 535–571 (2014).

Article  Google Scholar 

Tyndall, J. Econ. Transp. 26–27, 100219 (2021).

Article  Google Scholar 

Davis, L. W. & Sallee, J. M. Environ. Energy Policy Econ. 1, 65–94 (2020).

Article  Google Scholar 

Ziegler, M. S. & Trancik, J. E. Energy Environ. Sci. 14, 1635–1651 (2021).

Article  Google Scholar 

Baars, J., Domenech, T., Bleischwitz, R., Melin, H. E. & Heidrich, O. Nature Sustain. 4, 71–79 (2021).

Article  Google Scholar 

Kalnaus, S. et al. J. Energy Storage 40, 102747 (2021).

Article  Google Scholar 

Wolfram, P., Tu, Q., Heeren, N., Pauliuk, S. & Hertwich, E. G. J. Ind. Ecol. 25, 494–510 (2020).

Article  Google Scholar 

Khan, A., Harper, C. D., Hendrickson, C. T. & Samaras, C. Accid. Anal. Prev. 125, 207–216 (2019).

PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Alarfaj, A. F., Griffin, W. M. & Samaras, C. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 0940c2 (2020).

Article  Google Scholar 

After the submission of this paper, C.S. began a temporary mobility employment assignment with the US government through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. He is on Public Service Leave, and this article was prepared while he was employed at Carnegie Mellon University. The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the view of the US government or any other organization.

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Cost of charging an electric car and what happens if it runs out of battery

The Mirror 13 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

The number of electric cars sold in the UK last month almost matched figures for the whole of 2019 as drivers were gripped by the petrol panic buying crisis.

Nearly 33,000 electric cars were registered in September - almost 50% more than last year.

The global shortages of semiconductors is also thought to have affected car sales, as only 215,312 new vehicles in total were registered last month.

Thankfully, the fuel crisis appears to be letting up as industry heads said there had been “marked improvement” around the country and £30 limits at certain stations had been dropped.

But as more drivers appear to be moving across to electric, we explain what you need to know about EVs (electric vehicles) including what happens when they run out of charge.

The distance your electric car can travel before you need to recharge will depend on the manufacturer of your car and the type of battery installed.

According to the AA, it "isn't unusual now" to have an electric car with a range of around 200 miles - but again, it does vary widely.

Some cars will have more than this - closer to 300 miles - while others will have much less.

It gives some examples of popular electric vehicles based on their standard models, but adds that some have extended range models as well:

You should be able to find the range of your electric car within its handbook.

If your electric car runs out of charge, it simply won't run anymore.

This means you won't be able to travel any further in it until you charge it up.

But your car will warn you in advance that you’re running low - usually when there’s about 20% battery left.

Your vehicle will also go into failsafe mode before running out of battery completely, giving you enough time to pull over safely to the side of the road.

If you do run out of battery, and there isn't anywhere to charge up, you'll need to call for roadside assistance.

There are several ways to charge an electric vehicle, with all taking varying lengths of time to juice up your car.

If you're on the move, you can pull up and charge your vehicle at an EV chargepoint.

You'll typically find these in service stations, motorway service areas or in car parks and tourist destinations - and even in some workplaces.

You can see a map of places to charge up on the Zap-Map website.

On the road, you’ll come across a mixture of chargers, according to the AA:

You can also charge your car from home if you’ve got access to off-street parking and power.

Drivers will typically need to use either the charger that comes with your vehicle or have an EV chargepoint installed.

The price of charging up an electric car also depends on the manufacturer and type of battery installed.

The AA has estimated the following costs to fully charge some popular vehicles, based on the national average energy tariff of 14p per kWh:

EV drivers hit the ‘Electric Road to COP26’ to demand faster global action

E&T Magazine 13 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

Published

Representatives of electric vehicle drivers’ sssociations from a range of European countries will be heading to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next month to support the call for much faster transport decarbonisation, globally fuelled by renewable energy.

EV drivers from 44 EV drivers’ associations will be calling for all new cars and light-duty vans sold in the 28 EU countries represented in the Global EV Drivers’ Alliance (GEVA) to have a plug by 2030 and to be fully zero-emission by 2035 at the latest. A rapid shift to zero-emission electric transport is currently being achieved in many countries and could be accelerated through supportive policies, the group says.

To take this message to COP26, EV drivers from Europe and the UK will be participating in the ‘Electric Road to COP26’, starting their journey in England by charging up with 100 per cent renewable electricity at the GRIDSERVE Electric Forecourt in Essex.

They will then be hosted by myenergi in Grimsby, where they will be able to see some of the latest EV charging and zero-carbon home energy solutions. The route will also take in the site where construction is currently starting on the Britishvolt EV battery gigafactory in Northumberland, before experiencing Scottish EV charging at Forth Valley College in Falkirk - finally ending their journey in Glasgow itself at the Arnold Clark Innovation Centre.

The EV drivers will then head to COP26 in Glasgow in order to support the call for much faster transport decarbonisation globally; to increase the public’s awareness of the benefits of EVs for the environment and health, reducing carbon emissions and helping to improve air quality, and to promote the voice of EV driver associations globally working with GEVA.

Joel Levin, who chairs GEVA, said: “A shift to electric transport is essential to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; reduce dangerous climate change; improve local air quality and people’s health in cities around the world. With the rapid improvements in EV technology and the new cars and vans coming into the market, it is entirely achievable.”

Ade Adepitan MBE, EVA England honorary member added: “In my recent travels and when reporting on climate change, I’ve seen the growth of electric bikes, three-wheelers, cars, buses and vans around the world, and the opportunity to do much more. I call for COP26 to speed up the move to electric transport.”

Neil Swanson, director of EVA Scotland, said: “EVA Scotland looks forward to welcoming delegates and drivers to COP26, which presents a unique opportunity to increase the uptake of electric vehicles globally.”

Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England offers a voice for EV drivers in England. People can follow updates about the Electric Road to COP26 and share the message about the need for faster global transport decarbonisation via the EVA England website and on Twitter @EVAEOfficial.

EVA England was established in June 2020 to offer a voice, services and representation to current and prospective electric vehicle drivers in England. EVA England is a non-profit community interest company, founded by EV drivers inspired by the benefits of electric driving and concerned by the health and climate impacts of the use of petrol and diesel cars and vans.

The Global EV Alliance (GEVA) represents EV driver associations from the countries of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain (Catalonia), Croatia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

© 2021 The Institution of Engineering and Technology. The Institution of Engineering and Technology is registered as a Charity in England & Wales (no 211014) and Scotland (no SC038698).

EV drivers hit the ‘Electric Road to COP26’ to demand faster global action

ETF Trends 13 October, 2021 - 12:10pm

Published

Representatives of electric vehicle drivers’ sssociations from a range of European countries will be heading to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next month to support the call for much faster transport decarbonisation, globally fuelled by renewable energy.

EV drivers from 44 EV drivers’ associations will be calling for all new cars and light-duty vans sold in the 28 EU countries represented in the Global EV Drivers’ Alliance (GEVA) to have a plug by 2030 and to be fully zero-emission by 2035 at the latest. A rapid shift to zero-emission electric transport is currently being achieved in many countries and could be accelerated through supportive policies, the group says.

To take this message to COP26, EV drivers from Europe and the UK will be participating in the ‘Electric Road to COP26’, starting their journey in England by charging up with 100 per cent renewable electricity at the GRIDSERVE Electric Forecourt in Essex.

They will then be hosted by myenergi in Grimsby, where they will be able to see some of the latest EV charging and zero-carbon home energy solutions. The route will also take in the site where construction is currently starting on the Britishvolt EV battery gigafactory in Northumberland, before experiencing Scottish EV charging at Forth Valley College in Falkirk - finally ending their journey in Glasgow itself at the Arnold Clark Innovation Centre.

The EV drivers will then head to COP26 in Glasgow in order to support the call for much faster transport decarbonisation globally; to increase the public’s awareness of the benefits of EVs for the environment and health, reducing carbon emissions and helping to improve air quality, and to promote the voice of EV driver associations globally working with GEVA.

Joel Levin, who chairs GEVA, said: “A shift to electric transport is essential to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; reduce dangerous climate change; improve local air quality and people’s health in cities around the world. With the rapid improvements in EV technology and the new cars and vans coming into the market, it is entirely achievable.”

Ade Adepitan MBE, EVA England honorary member added: “In my recent travels and when reporting on climate change, I’ve seen the growth of electric bikes, three-wheelers, cars, buses and vans around the world, and the opportunity to do much more. I call for COP26 to speed up the move to electric transport.”

Neil Swanson, director of EVA Scotland, said: “EVA Scotland looks forward to welcoming delegates and drivers to COP26, which presents a unique opportunity to increase the uptake of electric vehicles globally.”

Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England offers a voice for EV drivers in England. People can follow updates about the Electric Road to COP26 and share the message about the need for faster global transport decarbonisation via the EVA England website and on Twitter @EVAEOfficial.

EVA England was established in June 2020 to offer a voice, services and representation to current and prospective electric vehicle drivers in England. EVA England is a non-profit community interest company, founded by EV drivers inspired by the benefits of electric driving and concerned by the health and climate impacts of the use of petrol and diesel cars and vans.

The Global EV Alliance (GEVA) represents EV driver associations from the countries of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain (Catalonia), Croatia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

© 2021 The Institution of Engineering and Technology. The Institution of Engineering and Technology is registered as a Charity in England & Wales (no 211014) and Scotland (no SC038698).

Is this the world’s fastest electric car charger?

The Irish Times 12 October, 2021 - 11:07pm

Sign up for alerts from The Irish Times

Just click on “Allow Notifications” on the message appearing on your browser to activate them.

We will send you a quick reminder in the future, in case you change your mind.

Charging times are one of the major bugbears of electric car ownership, especially given the limited number of public chargers and the increasing need to queue to get plugged-in when out and about. If ABB’s claims stand up to scrutiny, then such high-speed charging points could be something of a game changer for EV use, especially on long journeys.

As you would expect from its name, the Terra 360 charger runs at a maximum capacity of 360kW – that’s 10kW more than the fastest chargers currently available in Ireland. ABB says that each Terra 360 can be equipped with four charging connectors, which, unlike most fast-charging points, can actually charge four cars at the same time – assuming you can get enough power from the grid. The company claims that it is “capable of fully charging any electric car in 15 minutes or less, meeting the needs of a variety of EV users, whether they need a fast charge or to top their battery up while grocery shopping.”

“With governments around the world writing public policy that favours electric vehicles and charging networks to combat climate change, the demand for EV charging infrastructure, especially charging stations that are fast, convenient and easy to operate, is higher than ever,” said Frank Muehlon, president of ABB’s emobility division. “The Terra 360, with charging options that fit a variety of needs, is the key to fulfilling that demand and accelerating emobility adoption globally.”

While there is, as yet, no confirmation of any Irish orders for a Terra 360, the idea is not merely for it to be installed at public charging points, ABB claims that it is also ideal for haulage companies, as it can quickly zap a charge into a delivery van or even a larger truck while the driver is on a break, potentially speeding up the take-up of zero-emissions delivery operations. Each Terra 360 charger is designed to have as small a physical footprint as possible, so they can be installed in small depots or parking spaces, where space is at a premium.

Power is, of course, at a premium too, and with warnings of brownouts and blackouts this winter, could Ireland’s grid sustain such high-speed charging points?

Ionity (a charging conglomerate made up of Ford, VW, Mercedes, Hyundai and other car manufacturers, which uses ultra-fast ABB-provided chargers for its network) has told The Irish Times that it has had repeated problems getting enough electricity feed to its fast-charger sites in the UK, and so is toying with the idea of vast on-site batteries in order to guarantee enough supply at the end of the cable. Paul Entwhistle, from Ionity, told The Irish Times that: “The following story from the UK is typical of the issues we have to deal with. We asked for 1250KVA at one particular and very busy, from a traffic volume perspective, site. We received 250. So we are looking it installing ‘battery sites’ so we are able to guarantee supply. We believe that high-power charging is critical to the take up of emobility.”

David Martin, a spokesman for Eirgrid, told The Irish Times that sudden brownouts caused by everyone plugging in an EV are unlikely: “From an electricity grid perspective, EV’s biggest impact will likely be on the amount of capacity required to meet peak demand. If smart charging can be fully realised, EV charging can be moved into the night-time rather than peak dinner time, therefore, minimising any impact on additional capacity requirements. On an annual basis, the demand from 900,000 EVs would represent 9-to-ten per cent of the total annual electricity demand in 2030.”

The idea of smart metering, as mentioned by Martin, is a potential solution. In theory, this would allow people to plug in and then simply wait for peak demand to pass before their car starts to charge, reducing overall demand on the system.

There has long been talk, too, of using electric cars as storage tanks for electricity, charging them up from night-time wind power, and then drawing on the remaining charge in the battery (assuming that most people will plug in long before the gauge reaches zero) if the car is plugged in at peak demand times. That plan, though, was first mooted more than a decade ago and still has not come to fruition, although both Hyundai’s new Ioniq 5 and Kia’s new EV6 electric cars can, in theory, reverse their battery flow and power your home in the event of a power cut.

Will it be a problem, The Irish Times asked Eirgrid, if people – in that bloody-minded way that ‘people’ tend to operate – want to come home and start charging immediately, in case they need to go out again that evening? That issue, it seems, will be down to both education, and the carrot of lower charging costs at off-peak times. “As quantities of electric vehicles grow they will have an increasing impact on the electricity grid and on electricity markets. The scale of this impact will depend on the quantity and types of electric vehicle, vehicle usage, types and locations of vehicle chargers and the charging patterns of vehicle owners” said Martin.

“Charger technology has the potential to minimise the potential impact of electric vehicle demand on the grid. It is assumed that charger technology will evolve over time from simple chargers and patterns that are readily available today, to smart chargers with features such as programmable charge start times to smarter charging technology that optimises vehicle charging in line with dynamic electricity price signals.”

Unfortunately USERNAME we were unable to process your last payment. Please update your payment details to keep enjoying your Irish Times subscription.

Business Stories

JCPenney