What it takes to achieve the dream of green mobility
Consumers want to know that they will have easy access to charging points, so we need to get building
Having been involved with the automotive industry for most of my career I am now extremely proud to be part of the team driving the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure to ensure that greener personal mobility is a reality all over the world. I started the job to lead this business for ABB last month.
It is a dynamic market with data about the first quarter market growth showing an exciting upward trend. Sales of pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles grew by more than 35 percent in Europe and 49 percent in the US in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the previous quarter.
So, with expectations of more than 3 million pure battery electric vehicles hitting the road by 2020, what can we do to get the infrastructure ready? Consumers want to know that they will have easy access to charging points, so we need to get building.
It’s as easy as 1.2.3 – I want to share a couple of my own thoughts.
- Partnerships are key
- Technology matters
- The world is not a single market
So, given these could be headings for many a nice tale, let me provide a bit more detail.
Partnerships are key
In the field of electric vehicles – both public transport and personal cars – partnerships will support faster creation of the required infrastructure. This is true for industry collaborations, where a manufacturer works together with a mobility expert or charging network operator; with utilities; or with service stations either fuel stations or motorway rest stops – or a combination of these players. And importantly, the industry in general and players on their own need to work with governments, nationally and locally, to support their agenda of creating greener roads and better access to e-mobility.
We aren’t talking about a simple plug – like plugging in your washing machine or even home lighting system, here you’re talking already today about the equivalent of 30 plus washing machines worth of power, or the power for 5,000 light bulbs. For e-buses or trucks we even go up to 600 kW, which is about 300 washing-machines at the same time at full speed. So the reliability of the power supply and safety are paramount. In addition, we need to consider interoperability – consumers want power like they want petrol or diesel, they don’t want a specific brand of fuel, so charging infrastructure makes most sense when all makes of vehicle or bus can benefit from it.
Finally, in terms of technology, our solutions need to be connected: this enables remote monitoring and maintenance to ensure the uptime I described as important and also it means that you can find the next charging point on an app on your mobile. Our solutions are part of the ABB Ability™ platform of connected solutions and we have more than 5,000 DC fast-charging solutions globally available on the cloud.
The world is not a single market
Finally, what has been interesting to me as I learn about this business, is that there are many different stages of maturity. If you look at China, Norway or the Netherlands, they are pioneers, with the US making important strides with its investment and then there are markets like Germany which are still in their infancy but ready to kick-start big infrastructure investments now or like some of the countries in South America, where it is almost a green field.
This business is very dynamic. Last week we had very good discussions with global bus manufacturers at the UITP event in Montreal to electrify buses for smarter city traffic. We already have a couple of pilot bus-chargers with the open standard of OppCharge in place, like with more than hundred e-buses in Namur/Belgium or at multiple sites in Sweden. This week we were proud to meet with key partners who are leading the way for EV charging in Argentina, QEV, a mobility specialist, and YPF, an Oil and Gas company, together with two Ministers (Minister of Production and Minister of Transportation) and authorities from the City of Buenos Aires. Together we celebrated the announcement of the first phase of the project for 220 charger and envision together a time when one in three cars will be electric – this will be beyond 2020, however we proudly push the boundaries to make the dream a reality as quickly as possible.