North American Light Duty Electric Vehicle (LDEV) Charging Market and Supply Chain: Final Recommendations and Conclusions

The following recommendations address how VTO or other USG entities may improve the vitality of the EVSE marketplace – according to all of the information analyzed during this research.

In support of the following recommendations, Synthesis identified twenty-one (21) VTO feedback statements, which represent just 8% of the total number of gap statements received.   This data, along with all the other data collected, provides the basis for the following recommendations.

  • Of top interest among sources is the call for assistance from USG entities with setting of EVSE standards in NA. This comes across in many ways, across several gap categories, as outlined above.
  • The second category of most interest to sources – a topic that is directly related to the first – is a call for government support in facilitating coordination among municipals, states and federal agencies in the delivery of EV charging nationwide.  Notably, a call for government assistance in coordination with utilities is not far behind in the fourth spot.
  • A core conclusion is that the main challenge in the NA EVSE market is less about technology and more about the need for targeted, practical design-thinking and design improvements.  Improved design thinking is needed in order to deliver better, faster, cheaper outputs (charged vehicles) in a better, faster, cheaper way (that is, more efficiently, flexibly and cheaply for vehicle or fleet owners).  Easier said than done, but this a core conclusion.
    • Fully 67% of gap statements among the top six gap categories analyzed in the Gap Analysis section of this report are about the general need for improved design thinking.
  • The third VTO feedback item points to the fact that government assistance with funding of equipment or manufacturing is not a high priority at this time in the NA EVSE sector.  This point is supported by all the data that shows that the EVSE marketplace has high vitality, numerous players and is meeting current market needs – but does require improved system design thinking.  
    • Put another way, the need is not first and foremost for manufacturing or technology-specific support, but rather for the design thinking “around” technology that can help market participants to accelerate and implement more efficient and effective EV charging infrastructure systems.
  • Overall findings from the gap analysis show that the top gap category of gap statements are covered by Business Model Issues – reinforcing the call for increased collaboration, standards development and design thinking.   These issues are followed by Technology Hardware and then again, design-related issues such as Standards, Data Gaps, Network Systems, and Technical Coordination.
    • Business Model Issues [24% of total gap statements]
    • Technology Hardware Issues [14%]
    • Standards Issues [13%]
    • Data Gap Issues [13%]
    • Network Systems Engineering Issues [9%]
    • Technical Coordination [8%]
    • VTO Feedback Points [8%]
  • Technical Coordination gaps include concrete recommendations for projects that can deliver rapid-turnaround, technical learning and potentially significant design impacts through VTO sharing of independently developed, expert guided, technical recommendations.  Several examples follow:
    • V2G Infrastructure Pilot Projects and Assessments: “The focus of the pilots needs to be to demonstrate the economic viability of a vehicle-to-grid infrastructure.  In particular, the pilots need to test and ensure that charging transactions can be resolved, e.g., initiated and completed.”
    • Fleet Charging at Scale: “It would be beneficial to have research done on how the infrastructure will handle the charging of thousands of EVs at once.  This type of research would quantify the resources available/needed in relation to a given population of EVs and could help determine the ideal ratio of vehicles-to-grid.  Pilot projects have been done using hundreds of vehicles, but a larger pilot program is needed that would cover thousands of vehicles.”
    • Off-Board Bi-Directional Charging Pilots: “A small-scale V2G pilot project utilizing off-board bidirectional inverter/chargers was completed by the Los Angeles Air Force Base beginning in 2013, but was too small to demonstrate the commercial viability of V2G.  Now, a larger pilot program is needed to encourage broader support and engagement.”
  • More Engagement with Utilities, Especially with Regard to V2G: “It might be helpful for the VTO to initiate a pilot project that would assess the best means for communication between utilities, EVs, chargers and charging networks.  There are a variety of solutions currently available and an assessment needs to be done to determine which solution offers the means to serve the largest percentage of the market.”
  • This research effort identified clear support for the following concrete technology development recommendations for VTO’s consideration.  Though of course these technology specific endeavors are recommended within the context of the call for design thinking as underscored above.
  • Reduce Battery (Energy Storage) Costs:
    • “Batteries are extremely costly, so premature reductions in capacity with repeated cycling or deep discharges associated with V2B and V2G could lead to a bad consumer experience with automakers.”
  • Improve Battery Cycle Time and Capability:
    • “The objective is to match ICE vehicles in terms of the time it takes to charge.  This means we are looking to achieve a 7-minute charge time.  This means larger capacity batteries are needed and along with the larger capacity, more through-put is needed.  For the last 4-5 years, the focus has been on a 50kW standard, but this is already increasing as Electrify America is installing charging stations with a 50-350kW charging capacity.”
    • “EV batteries aren’t designed to receive a DC fast charge on a regular basis — the elevated temperatures will degrade a battery’s capacity if repeated too often. Supercharging is perfectly safe if it’s done on an occasional basis as intended, but supercharging an EV too frequently may eventually reduce range.”

  • Focus on V2G Technology Integration:
    • “The challenge now will be to get smart chargers (networked chargers) to operate as dependably as the “dumb” chargers (stand-alone, not networked) in operation.”

  • Reduce Costs: Commoditize Core EVSE Technology:
    • “Commoditizing charging station equipment [could] result in cost savings of up to 50%. The VTO may have a role here in funding the development of cost-efficient solutions to achieve savings at the systems level. For example, there is not much room for reducing costs in terms of wiring, conduit, labor, etc. incurred in the course of providing electricity to a charging station, but there is significant cost-reduction potential in determining what charging equipment is used.”
  • Deliver Lower Cost, More Effective On-Board Chargers:
    • “Need for a less expensive, more effective on-board charger that will allow EVs to accept faster chargers.  Currently, the limiting factor is not the lack of the high-power chargers, but vehicles that can accept high-power charging.  The main issue here is the need for chargers that can deal with the extra heat generated in a high-power charge.”

  • Accelerate Mobile Charger Scale and Technology Development:
    • “Traditional charging stations cost approximately $100,000 to install a Level 2 charger whereas the re-location of our stationary unit costs about $30,000-$40,000.  In addition, it only takes about 1 month to complete the installation of our stationary DC Fast Charger compared with the 6-month time frame for installing permanent chargers.”
  • Last, any technology development that accelerates the deliver of better V2G or V2H connectivity to faster chargers, at lower cost, where EV owners where spend the most of their time charging their vehicles (at home or at work) – is a topic for discussion.  At-home Level 2 units is a key focus among companies in the field even as this page is being written (examples below).  Certainly each of these units will benefit from increased V2G  and V2H capabilities.
    • October 1, 2019 – Electrify America announced Level 2 EV home chargers, available on Amazon for $499.  “The Electrify America Electric Vehicle Home Charger is compatible with all electric vehicles available in the North American market today. It features a charging power of up to 7.6kW – about 6 times faster than the typical Level 1 charger provided to some new EV owners, depending on vehicle make and model.”

North American (NA) Light Duty Electric Vehicle (LDEV) Supplier Equipment Market and Supply Chain Gap Report (2019)

Introduction

Gap Analysis

Final Recommendations and Conclusions

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