Range anxiety was already overblown. By 2020, in Europe at least, it really ought to be history.
As a plug-in car driver, I'm a big fan of slower speed "convenience" charging at breweries, workplaces and hotels. As I've written many times before, they provide just enough range boost over a lunchtime meeting (or afternoon half-pint) to turn a 100-mile range into a 130-mile range, or a 230-mile range into a 260-mile range -- which, on many journeys, will make the need for highway charging obsolete. (Most of us, most of the time, will charge at home and won't even need these options.)
That said, for electric vehicles to move firmly from second car/commuter territory to default vehicle choice, we'll still need highway charging to be available when we do need it. And so far, Tesla's supercharger network has been the only serious game in town in terms of both speed of charge and distribution.That may, however, be about to change. Electrek reports on the imminent roll-out of not one, but two, massive ultra-fast charging networks across Europe.
The first, called IONITY, is an alliance between 5 big car companies—BMW, Daimler, Ford, VW, Audi and Porsche—which will see 400 charging stations capable of 350kW charging deployed across Europe by 2020. Twenty of those stations will be up and running by the end of this year, and 100+ will be live by the end of 2018. A couple of things worthy of note here:
First, 350W is really, really fast, and should be able to provide 400km (about 248 miles) of range within 15 minutes. With the exception of Tesla's, many current CHAdeMO fast chargers top out at 40 to 50 kW, and indeed most current car models can't actually handle any faster. But the fact that car makers are investing in this technology suggests that the cars themselves will soon be capable of using it too.
The other thing worthy of mention, given that charging stations are getting bigger, is that 400 stations will likely mean many, many more actual charge points. (A charging location is useless if it's occupied by others.) IONITY didn't provide details of how many charge points will be available per station, but they did specify that multiple drivers will be able to charge at once.
However, even this exciting initiative is small potatoes compared to German energy giant E.ON's big push into electric mobility. Also reported over at Electrek, E.ON is planning on installing a whopping 10,000 "ultra fast" charge points across Europe. No word yet on how many charging points per station, so it's hard to judge the geographical spread of this effort—but it represents a huge ramp-up of charging infrastructure in Europe. The charge points will initially be configured to charge at 150 kW, similar to Tesla's current supercharger offering, but will eventually be upgraded to 350kW as cars become available that can handle it.
Also worthy of note in terms of the E.ON initiative is that their website states charging stations will be located AT CONVENIENT LOCATIONS, including supermarkets and—yes!—train stations too. While charging will still take a little longer than filling up your tank, I'm pretty sure most of us are happy to take a 15 to 30 minute break after 250 miles+ of driving, as long as there's something to do while we charge.
The move comes as part of a broader campaign on behalf of E.ON to promote electric vehicles as desirable, superior technology compared to their fossil fueled counterparts. They also released the rather visually stunning, Mad Max-style homage to car culture below. Of course, it would be nice to see folks investing similar kinds of money in making bike superhighways sexy too—but if this is what it takes to wean Europe off of oil, for now, I'll take it. Now, the question becomes, when do we get similar investments in the U.S.?