There are more than a few reasons why owning an electric car is desirable. In a world where climate change is a constant concern, owning a vehicle that lowers one's carbon footprint feels like a moral imperative to some. With ten times fewer moving parts than a gas-powered car, EVs also typically require far less maintenance. And that's just one way that they can save owners money. Running a car on electricity is, simply put, less expensive than running a car on gasoline.
Author: Justin Tejada, The Connected Car
This is especially true in times of energy insecurity, which impacts gas prices far more than electricity.
So why haven't electric cars fully caught on among consumers yet?
One of the biggest reasons is the widespread belief that the current infrastructure in place for electric vehicle charging is insufficient.
A fully charged car battery can only take a driver so far, and car owners need to know that they can find a charging station within a reasonable distance when they need to plug in their car. With the prevalence of gas stations, the prospect of a car running out of fuel is far less daunting than a car running out of battery power, when the nearest charging station could be 100-plus miles away.
In recent years, public and private entities have commenced efforts to ease these concerns and establish a reliable and widespread infrastructure for charging EVs. Europe has been especially active. In November, a partnership or primarily German automakers announced a collaborative effort to install 400 'ultra-fast' vehicle charging stations across Europe by 2020, with the installations beginning this year.
"Ionity, a joint venture of BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen with its Audi and Porsche brands, plans to open 20 stations to the public this year in Germany, Norway and Austria," Reuters reported. "They will be 120km (75 miles) apart and run in partnership with Tank & Rast, Circle K and OMV."
As a product of high-profile partners, the power and influence behind Ionity cannot be overstated. BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen each hold equal shares in the company, although the possibility remains that more automakers could join the venture. The chargers they plan to offer are no joke. At 350kW per charging point, the Ionity chargers will be three times as powerful as Tesla Superchargers.
"The launch of Ionity represents a breakthrough in the move towards a comprehensive rapid charging infrastructure in Europe," Oliver Blume, chairman of Porsche's executive board, wrote in a statement. "Creating a functioning charging infrastructure is necessary for ensuring electromobility is accepted and further expanded. With the rapid charging network from Ionity, we are ensuring that our customers can use electric cars on long journeys without compromising on convenience."
The Ionity launch comes amidst a spate of announcements of EV initiatives in Europe. Mitsubishi recently announced that it had joined with a series of partners to introduce V2G technology in the Netherlands, which will enable electric cars to return electricity to the grid for the first time.
"With V2G-technology, we turn parked electric vehicles - at home and at work - into power service providers and energy buffers," said Sytse Zuidema, CEO of NewMotion, one of Mitsubishi's partners in the initiative. "They can save a surplus of energy and return energy to the grid at a peak time. This results in more stability and security."
Clearly, the EV space is one that is seeing a lot of action right now, especially in Europe. With businesses taking the lead, it will be interesting to see if consumers soon follow.