A local grid operator in a small town in Germany recently conducted a 15-month study on the charging behaviours of electric vehicle owners, setting out to find if they could be convinced to slowly charge their vehicles overnight, as opposed to using powerful fast chargers.
Engineers at the grid operator in the Stuttgart suburb where the study was conducted are among a growing contingent of European energy experts who are seeking ways to avoid the potential power “brownouts” that they believe could be brought on by widespread use of EV fast charging stations. The idea is that slowly charging EVs overnight, when the car is not being used and when there are less people using electricity, will put less strain on local electrical grids and help reduce any negative impacts of an electric vehicle influx.
This may be the beginning of a rift between municipalities and automakers, however. Many consumers cite range anxiety and poor charging infrastructure as reasons for not buying an EV and fast charging systems are viewed by manufacturers as a way to win over weary shoppers and get sell more battery electric cars and crossovers. Buyers could be confused when they are being encouraged to fast charge at the dealership, only to be told by their municipality to slowly charge their vehicle overnight instead.
Not surprisingly, data sharing is at the core of this issue, Reuters’ report on the matter indicates. Towns and cities wants automakers to enable vehicle-to-grid data sharing via their charge cables/charge points, giving towns and cities information on what types of EVs residents own and when/how they are charging them. This data will help them better plan for the future when building and/or upgrading energy grids.
Some EV owners may be relegated to public fast-charging networks at first, however. Many apartment buildings come with only a handful of electric cars chargers, and with transportation experts touting a future where millions of EVs roam the streets, this could lead to a lack of charger access. Additionally, not everyone will have access to an area where they can consistently charge their vehicle overnight, either, regardless of where they live.
General Motors announced earlier this year it would collaborate with EVgo, ChargePoint and Greenlots, three of the nation’s leading charge networks, to give Chevrolet Bolt EV owners access to more than 31,000 fast-charging ports across the country. GM said it “plans to aggregate dynamic data from each of the EV charging networks,” so owners can have a more seamless charging experience with their GM vehicles. In other words, GM is using data from the charge points to find out when, where and how its owners charge their vehicles – similar to what municipalities in Europe want to do.
Automakers, including GM, will be paying close attention to the way municipalities handle charging infrastructure as they plot their electric vehicle product portfolios in the coming years.