One certainty for electric cars is that there are few certainties for electric cars

Getting people to connect with electric vehicles isn’t so hard. Getting those vehicles connected to the rest of the world is the tricky part.

Although electric vehicles are gaining momentum – for very different reasons in different places – they have still not reached a mainstream tipping point. Yet.

And of course there is the endless “chicken or the egg?” argument over which needs to come first – more electric cars to create demand for more charging stations, or more charging stations to create demand for electric cars.

But a more important tipping point might be when there is sufficient market demand to make large scale charging infrastructure a profitable investment. Once we reach that tipping point, a clear technology standard should emerge – AC vs. DC, two prong plugs vs. three, etc. And that clarity will make it easier and less risky for more firms to enter the market, further driving down cost and making electric cars even more approachable.

Until the market crowns its winner, it is difficult for companies to commit to any one charging standard. Yet, it’s still important to have reliable and affordable solutions available today and until the market reaches mainstream mass. And this goes far beyond connecting the battery to the car.

Chargers must be able to connect to convenient back-office commercial payment platforms, which differ country to country and sometimes even city to city – everything from tap-and-pay credit cards to scan-able QR codes on people’s smart phones.

It’s also important that charging networks are reliable without having a full time support person at every site. That means remote monitoring solutions, so operators can make sure their entire network of chargers is healthy. There is no standard here, either. Yet.

Finally, the chargers need to connect to the grid in ways which do not cause instability (eg. if all the workers at an office building plug in to recharge when they arrive at work in the morning). There is increasing intelligence in today’s smarter grids and a lot of intelligence in charging stations and e-cars, but these all ‘talk’ very different languages and have very different priorities. Here too, there is no dominant standard for sharing data and collaboration. Yet.

Learn more about how ABB is helping to address some of these challenges today so electric cars have a more certain future tomorrow.

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About the author

Philip Lewin

I'm one of the many people sharing ABB's passion and great stories for robotics and industrial ingenu-ity. It’s exciting for me to be at the leading edge of a new age for one of the most fundamental things that people do - we make things. At the same time, the awareness has never been greater that economic progress, higher living standards and new ways of making things cannot come at the expense of our environment. I’m proud to contribute to this exciting and important discussion.
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