Did you know that one of the biggest problems with charging electric vehicles is how long they take to charge? Yes, it depends on the charging system and it also depends on the vehicle and its’ battery, but it can take several hours to charge up an electrical vehicle. As in, over 24 hours with some vehicles and some charging systems.
All of which makes things a little difficult if you have to travel 200 miles and your battery will only take you for 120 miles fully charged. If you have a petrol car, which most of us do – or diesel for that matter – you can fill the tank in three minutes or so and pop into the office, pay for it, and you can be gone in five minutes.
Not so, with electric cars unfortunately. So if you need to travel 200 miles you may well have to charge your car on the way. That can be a problem if it takes an hour or two to recharge your battery! 200 miles is a long way to drive anyway, but if you have to take a couple of hours recharging the battery it can turn into a nightmare.
This is why so many people have been put off electric cars in the first place. Yes, they are about half the price to run, mile for mile, and no they don’t need all the servicing that a petrol or diesel engine does, such as oil changes, new spark plugs, and so on, because an electric motor just doesn’t require all that.
However, what it DOES require is charging, which can take a long time. Of course, if you have off-street parking then you can install a home charging station and off you go. You come home after work, plug your car into your charger, and that’s it. When you wake up in the morning your "tank" is full!
This does depend somewhat on your charger, because some can take over 30 hours or so to charge a battery from empty to full. But assuming that you don’t arrive home with your battery empty, and you have a reasonable charger unit, then you won’t have any problem. Ideally, you need at least a level 2 charger unit which will charge most batteries in less than ten hours and may charge some in as little as two hours.
Even so, the length of time required for charging is what has put many people off investing in an electric car so far. Nobody wants to take off into the countryside for an afternoon out and then find themselves stuck in the woods – literally. And that is quite understandable.
Nonetheless, we are all going to be driving electric cars in the not very distant future. If you recall, it was not so many years ago that we used to have our milk delivered six days a week by a milkman driving an electric milk van: remember those?? Yes, that was only 20 years ago!
And those days are going to return. We need to protect the environment and – believe it or not – only in the 1940’s it was the case that if you had a family car you must be quite wealthy, because most people didn’t own one. Today there are millions of them. Most families have one, if not two or three. But they are going to have to change to electric.
Here is the better news. Although the problem with electric vehicles has been the length of time that they need to charge, there have been developments. A problem with the lithium-ion batteries that we have has been that attempts to charge them too fast has resulted in them degrading much faster. And they are not cheap to replace.
However, Dr Chao-Yang Wang of Penn State University in the US and his team have developed a method that raises the battery temperature for ten minutes to 60°C and then drops it to 23°C which prevents the battery from deteriorating with fast charging. Dr Wang says that they can now charge an electrical vehicle and give it a range of between 200 and 300 miles. Not only that, they can repeat the process around 2,500 times, giving the vehicle about half a million miles of travel.
Developments such as this are going to mean that electric vehicles will become more common faster than you would imagine.