Superhubs, Chargers & Batteries: The Electric Vehicle Battle
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Superhubs, Chargers, and Batteries: The Electric Vehicle Battle

Tesla superchargers will form part of a new electric vehicle (EV) superhub in a historic U.K. city as the race to switch from gasoline and diesel-powered cars heats up.

With EV sales expected to rise 41% this year, the next challenge facing global authorities is ensuring there is sufficient charging capacity to drive the revolution.

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers need to feel confident that batteries provide sufficient range for their journeys and that they’ll have plentiful backup charging points to avoid getting stranded. The thorny issue is being addressed in multiple ways.

Adopting Electric Vehicles Across Great Britain

Last year, the U.K. government announced the end of diesel and gasoline vehicle sales from 2030 onward. In addition, from the year 2035, all new cars and vans must have zero tailpipe emissions.

Around 11% of new U.K. vehicle registrations in 2020 were ultra-low emissions, up from 3% in 2019. However, a government committee report highlighted that “consumers are not all yet convinced that zero-emission cars are a suitable alternative to petrol and diesel models.”

The U.K. has more than 140,000 residential EV charge points, 9,000 charge points at business premises, and more than 19,000 public charge points. In addition, the government claims a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point anywhere along England’s motorways and major roads.

Almost a third of £1.8 billion ($2.55 billion) of state aid will now be spent on grants to encourage EV take-up and the rest will go toward accelerating the charge point roll out in homes, streets, and businesses.

Electric Vehicle Superhubs

The U.K. authorities anticipate there will be around 36 million EVs on the country’s road by 2040. However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) claims the U.K. requires approximately 2.3 million public charge points in service by 2030 to provide adequate coverage.

That means installing more than 700 new charge points every day until the end of the decade, in contrast to the current installation rate of 42 per day.

People living in England’s university city of Oxford are renowned for their love of cycling around the city. And they are being given a chance to embrace a new green travel style.

To meet demand while assuaging drivers’ range anxiety, Oxford City Council is pioneering the first of 40 national superhubs, working alongside Tesla, Fastned, and Wenea.

Some 38 fast and ultra-rapid chargers will make Oxford the country’s largest electric vehicle charging hub with a 10 megawatt (MW) capacity. The 10 Fastned chargers will add 300 miles of range to cars in just 20 minutes, alongside 16 Gamma chargers (7-22kW) and 12 of Tesla’s 250kW Superchargers for Tesla owners.

The Oxford Superhub, which will open later this year, will run on 100% renewable energy. Oxford council describes it as “Europe’s most powerful EV charging hub,” and claims it will save more than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in its first year.

Battery Technology to Take Us Further  

The superhub news comes as Australia-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) claimed its latest graphene aluminum-ion battery could charge 60 times faster and last three times longer than the best lithium-ion cells commonly used in electric vehicles. 

Dr. Ashok Nanjundan, GMG’s Chief Scientific Officer, said the aluminum and lithium batteries are interchangeable, making this “a real game-changing technology.” 

The research will continue into the battery breakthrough. Dr. Nanjundan concluded: “Graphene aluminium-ion batteries provide major benefits in terms of longer battery life, battery safety, and lower environmental impact.” 

A Lot More Electric Vehicle Volatility to Come 

Seemingly every month brings new announcements about technological innovations, financial incentives, and bumps in the road on the world’s route to an EV driving fleet. 

Experts predict somewhere between 145-230 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, meaning a lot of sales of new vehicles. 

Such a lucrative market will attract more entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors looking for breakthroughs from driving ranges and charging times to cost. We can be confident EVs form a vital part of the short and medium-term efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But, perhaps the destination won’t be the same as the one imagined when the EV journey first started. 

Opinion writer: Tom Shearman
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