A Charging Challenge

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I learned this week that actor Daniel Craig will drive an electric Aston Martin in his final Bond film, slated for release next year. The car, a Rapide E, features a 65.0-kWh battery pack, a range of 200 miles, and two electric motors that generate more than 600 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, according to Car & Driver.

This starlit EV moment points to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and the parallel development of charging infrastructure. The now-mainstream technologies are powered by a network of charging stations that has evolved as the market has expanded.

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Combustion engines in cars, trucks, ships, trains, and airplanes release massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the US EPA, transportation sector surpassed electricity generation to become the largest source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016.

The EPA also reports that nearly one quarter of transportation-related emissions come from the medium- and heavy-duty trucks used for freight transportation. Therefore, in order to achieve deep decarbonization of the transportation sector, experts agree that it’s crucial to look beyond passenger vehicles for opportunities within commercial applications.

But there are also a number of barriers to successfully electrifying freight transportation. The Rocky Mountain Institute explains that inadequate charging infrastructure is among the most significant.

While infrastructure for passenger vehicles evolved to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles on the road, the charging infrastructure for electric freight vehicles is faced with additional challenges due to their battery size, the scale of the power demands, and their mission-driven schedules.

The energy required to charge a 550-kWh battery to move large commercial vehicles long distances is much greater than a 40-kWh passenger vehicle, making large power draws and longer charging times necessary. In addition, charging a fleet of large commercial vehicles places significant strain on the grid during those intervals.

Furthermore, the mission-focused operations of freight-hauling trucks adds complexity to the infrastructure. Whereas passenger vehicles enjoy a certain amount of flexibility with variable schedules, fleet vehicles often work within rigid delivery deadlines and charging must be timed accordingly.

What can you suggest for the development of commercial electric vehicle charging infrastructure? How would you like see these challenges addressed?

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