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Mace & Crown | May 27, 2017

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Building a World for Electric Cars

Building a World for Electric Cars

Audra Reigle
Contributing Writer

Transportation is evolving just as much as everything else that one may or may not come across in their everyday life; video games, cell phones and cameras are just three examples of these changes. Electric cars are one of these new modes of transportation.

With the rise of electric cars, car charging stations are popping up so that drivers can pull over and charge their cars, sometimes frequently. To try and eliminate the number of stops these electric cars and hybrids have to make, the United Kingdom has implemented a new technology in their roads that will charge these cars as they drive.

These new roads will use magnetic induction technology. This is the same technology seen in wireless phone chargers. There will be cables buried underneath the road to generate electromagnetic power to be picked up by the car and turned into electric power.

The roads would be able to detect when a car is coming onto the road to start the process. A similar technology is already being used in South Korea for their shuttle buses.

Locally, Tesla has recently opened a supercharging station. The station is located in Norfolk in the JANAF Shopping Center on East Virginia Beach Boulevard. There are six stalls for Tesla Model S cars to use for free. The stalls can charge a Tesla Model S car in 30 minutes, or if the car’s charge has been used up completely, it can be charged in approximately an hour.

With the rise of electric cars, power companies could be affected too, depending on how many people in a given area were trying to quickly charge their cars. The one homeowner with the Tesla Model S who wanted to charge his 85 kilowatt per hour car could do so, and the power company wouldn’t have to do anything as the power lines and transformers would be adequate enough for one person.

If his neighbors got electric cars too, though, the power company would have to do something so that the power wouldn’t go out as a result of these homeowners quickly charging their cars. New substations would need to be built to help distribute the power better to prevent loss of it for homeowners in the vicinity of the charged car.

The infrastructure for these electric cars has allowed charging stations to rise up at homes, workplaces and other public locations. Hybrid vehicles do not need to be plugged into a charging station to be charged, but electric cars that do need to be plugged in need a place to do so.

There are three types of charging stations – the AC Level 1, the AC Level 2 and the DC Fast Charging – that people can use to charge their cars. The amount of time it takes to charge a car depends on how much of the battery has been used, how much it can hold, the type of battery in the car and the type of charging station being used. All three types require some sort of electrical installation.

The AC Level 1 charges the car through a 120 volt plug, and the cord set for this is distributed with most electric cars. This type of charging is typically only used when a 120 volt plug is available. This type of charger only adds two to five miles of range to the car per hour of charging time.

AC Level 2 chargers require 20 to 100 amps of electricity, but because they can charge a car overnight, these are the ones most commonly installed at homes. A person can use either AC Level 1 or AC Level 2 equipment to charge their cars. This type of charger can add ten to twenty miles of range per hour of charging time to the car.

The DC Fast Charging allows for a car to be charged at public stations or on heavy traffic corridors; this is also called DC Level 2. Inductive charging has recently been introduced, and it doesn’t require a cord to use. These charging stations operate at a similar level as the AC Level 2 charging station. In twenty minutes, these cars can add about fifty to seventy miles of range to electric cars.

  • RobSez

    As someone who’s been driving an EV since 2011 I can tell you that charging infrastructure is the single most important factor affecting the adoption of electric car technology. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a growing number of articles like this lately based on misinformation expressing concern EVs are going to overwhelm ‘the grid’. The premise is if EVs become popular we’ll be forced back to living in homes with oil lamps, coal furnaces and cooking over an open flame so the privileged can zip around in their futuristic vehicles. Hogwash! First, there is no ‘grid’ in the United States. While we talk a smart grid to death, what we really have is a mix of suppliers and distribution systems that grew organically from a need to meet local demand and evolved into regional networks. Most of them have done no more than necessary in the past 40 years to just keep pace with demand. Some regions of the country will need to invest more and sooner than others, but they’ve been needing to do it anyway and they still have plenty of time.

    EV sales currently represent less than 1/10th of 1% of all car sales in the US. If one looks at sales of EVs by location, the sales distribution is mostly limited to the west coast and south eastern states. Most of which are excellent candidates for expansion of renewable power generation options. However, I can’t find any information about those states, except California, struggling to meet electrical demand.

    Speaking of demand, it’s not as much as the general public is being lead to believe by the media. Yes, my Nissan Leaf has a 24kW battery. Yes, I charge it almost every night with my L2 charger. My average monthly electric bill is for between 1,100 kWh & 1,200 kWh usage. I have a somewhat common 200 amp residential breaker panel. Running my charger is like running my dryer. I don’t hear any fear about everyone running household dryers bringing down ‘the grid’. Most of the EV drivers I know or have encountered do 90% of their charging at home. If the average American household uses approximately 1000 kWh a month anyway is there really a danger of overloading the system, or are the power companies generating fear to extract more money from users?