Green Fleet

6 Innovations in Electric Vehicle Charging

January 2018, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Alameda County (Calif.) is running a pilot that allows its fleet DC charger to override its Level 2 chargers when in use. Photo courtesy of Alameda County
Alameda County (Calif.) is running a pilot that allows its fleet DC charger to override its Level 2 chargers when in use. Photo courtesy of Alameda County

The days of “dumb” electric vehicle (EV) chargers may soon be over. Here are six new or upcoming technologies that can change the way you charge your vehicles. 

1. Smart Charging

Alameda County, Calif., is running a charging pilot that allows it to charge its many EVs while controlling energy use and reducing expensive spikes. The Smart Charging Pilot Program allows the building’s chargers to communicate, and for the DC fast charger to override fleet Level 2 chargers when it’s in use. This increases the charging time for Level 2 chargers by just a few minutes while allowing vehicles that need it to charge immediately. Availability: This is a pilot project.

2. Vehicle to “X”

Fermata Energy, a Virginia-­based startup, is connecting electric vehicles to the grid, buildings, and eventually homes through a bi-directional charger and software. This allows fleets to maximize the use of electric vehicles through energy storage when the EV is parked, and the fleet gets a percentage of savings generated. Availability: now.

*Visit the Fermata Energy booth at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference in June.

Fermata tested its vehicle-to-x technology by partnering with the City of Danville, Va., for a two-year trial. Photo courtesy of Fermata
Fermata tested its vehicle-to-x technology by partnering with the City of Danville, Va., for a two-year trial. Photo courtesy of Fermata

3. Wireless Charging

Worried about drivers forgetting to plug in? Wireless charging may be the solution. Utah-based WAVE offers wireless EV charging that’s already being used by six transit agencies nationwide. Charging happens when buses stop to load and offload passengers or cargo, with vehicle-mounted receiver pads and ruggedized chargers embedded in the roadway. En-route charging can mean battery size reduction of up to 75%. Availability: now.

Photo courtesy of MOEV
Photo courtesy of MOEV

4. More Smart Charging

Here’s another way to avoid surges in electricity use: Los Angeles-based startup MOEV Inc., has chargers that can split a single circuit into four plugs, and users can schedule charging via the company’s software. Need a vehicle in a couple of hours? It will get charged first, before the other vehicles get their turn. This system allows fleets to reduce peaks in electricity use and the capital cost for equipment — buy one (slightly more expensive) charging station rather than four. Availability: now.

5. Solar Charging

Envision Solar, a California-based energy innovation company, produces the EV ARC — or autonomous renewable charger. This transportable, off-grid charger is an alternative when trenching and permitting drive up the cost (and time) of charging infrastructure. It comes with as many as six plugs for vehicles. Availability: now.

Fleets in Oakland (Calif.), Pittsburgh, and New York City have installed Envision's solar-powered chargers. Photo courtesy of Envision Solar
Fleets in Oakland (Calif.), Pittsburgh, and New York City have installed Envision's solar-powered chargers. Photo courtesy of Envision Solar

6. Extreme Fast Charging

A DC quick charger provides electricity output of 50-120 kWh, and it can charge a Nissan Leaf up to 80% in half an hour. The U.S. Department of Energy is hoping to reduce this by providing research funding for EV charging at 350 kWh. So if you need 50 kW of charge, and a Chevrolet Bolt has a 60 kWh battery, this could take less than 10 minutes. Availability: 5-10 years. 

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