Fast Charging Technology: Fuelling the Future of Electric Cars

June 2019

Undoubtedly, one of the main dissuading factors for consumers when they consider buying an electric vehicle is the amount of time it will take them to charge and the availability of charging points. This is a topic we looked at in our previous blog about the move from petrol pumps to charging stations, and these are challenges that automotive manufacturers have been making steps towards addressing. In this blog, we look at some of the latest developments in the world of ultra-fast charging technology and how it is set to revolutionise the electric car market.
Ultra-fast charging technology
Since electric vehicles were first introduced, automotive manufacturers, have been trying to come up with ways to close the gap between the eight hours they can take to charge and the 10 minutes it takes to fill up a petrol tank.

In 2016, Siemens, Porsche and BMW got together to form a research group called FastCharge, with the primary aim of making charging for electric vehicles faster. December 2018 saw the group announce its new ultra-fast 450kW charger; a device able to provide in three minutes enough charge to drive a Porsche Taycan test vehicle an extra 62 miles. The same charger was also shown to be able to charge a BMW 13 to 80% of its battery life in just 15 minutes.1

Since FastCharge’s unveiling of this technology, the momentum for introducing ultra-fast charging to the market has continued to build. Ionity, the ultra-high-speed European charging network, formed by a group of automakers that include Ford and Volkswagen, announced in March 2019 that they plan to have 400 ultra-fast charging locations in service across Europe by the end of 2020.2 One of their 350kW charging stations opened recently in Kent, is now the most powerful electric vehicle charging station in the UK and is said to offer charging times of under 20 minutes.3
The challenges
The problem is that many of the electric vehicles currently on the road do not have the capability to charge more rapidly. This is because they are fitted with a battery management system, which controls how quickly the battery charges to prevent it from overheating. In fact, there are no electric vehicles on the market that would be able to utilise the power of Ionity’s 350kW ultra-fast charging station — at the moment.

This is where FastCharge comes into play again. Their tested Porsche vehicle was able to utilise the power of its 450kW charger thanks to the installation of a cooling system that kept its battery stable, and it is this model that is set to go on sale early next year as the first car that will be able to make full use of ultra-fast charging stations. No doubt other models by other manufacturers are set to follow, and it seems as if the infrastructure is being prepared now to accommodate those vehicles.
What does this mean for insurers?
A decrease in the amount of charging time required for electric vehicles has always been expected to result in an increase in their popularity with consumers. Automotive manufacturers are also keen to sell more electric vehicles to avoid missing their CO2 emissions target in 2021, for which they could face a hefty fine.

It is clear that in the future, automotive insurers will need to be prepared to provide cover for more electric car owners, and even look at providing insurance for specific issues only electric cars might face. LV= recently announced a bespoke policy for electric car drivers, which included cover for home charging cables, recovery for customers who run out of charge and supplying electric or hybrid courtesy cars. It is said to be the first of its kind, but with research suggesting that 8.6 million drivers could buy an electric car in the next five years, it could be a signal that now is time for other insurers to follow suit.4

To find out more on this topic, take a look at part 1 and part 2 of our blog on the history and evolution of the electric car.