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Australian fast-chargers smash EV “range anxiety” on Autobahn

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Electric vehicle drivers on Germany’s Autobahn can now recharge their car batteries almost as fast as filling up a petrol tank, using Australian made technology that is rapidly busting one of the few remaining barriers to EV uptake – range anxiety.

Brisbane based EV infrastructure company Tritium said on Tuesday it had exported and installed 12 of the most powerful electric car chargers on the market to a site in Germany, as part of a joint venture with BMW Group, Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen Group.

The 12 HPCs, which are able to add 150km of driving range to an EV battery in just five minutes, have been installed at Tank & Rast rest stops at Brohltal Ost and West either side of the A61 highway in Germany.

The chargers will make up part of the IONITY High-Power Charging Network, which ultimately aims to deploy a pan-European network of around 400 HPCs, to ensure EV drivers are always within 120km of a fast charging station.

Elsewhere, the IONITY Network has also tapped charging technology from ABB for the project, using the Swiss company’s Terra HP high-speed chargers in its home country of Switzerland.

For Tritium, the IONITY project marks the first time the Australian company’s HPCs (350 kW) have been deployed commercially, although the company has done plenty of business, already, in Europe with its world leading DC fast chargers.

Notably, it is the leading fast charger supplier in Norway, Europe’s most advanced EV market.

IONITY CEO Michael Hajesch (left) and Tritium CEO Dr David Finn (right), Brohital, Germany. Source: Ionity

The HPC chargers – which are entirely Brisbane-manufactured – take fast-charge technology to the next level, however, offering the capability to deliver up to 475kW of power, and making them the most powerful EV charging units currently on the market.

“Increasing battery size and energy density means electric vehicles can travel further distances. But charging these larger batteries fast requires high-power charging infrastructure,” says Dr David Finn, CEO and founder at Tritium.

“Our HPC solutions deliver up to 475kW of power, making them capable of charging EVs in a very short time. And our goal is to bring charging times down even further, ideally to the same time as it would take to fill your tank with petrol,” he said.

IONITY executives are certainly impressed, with COO Marcus Groll noting that the two Tritium-equipped stations mark “the very first of our planned network ensuring that EV drivers no longer need to fear what used to be called ‘range anxiety’.”

Tritium says the new chargers are also better for the environment, using innovative liquid-cooled technology to make a “significantly smaller footprint” than other HPCs on the market – between 50-75% smaller, Finn says.

The HPCs also offer a Combined Charging System (CCS) that can be used by a wide range of vehicle manufacturers.

In Australia – where the electric vehicle market is moving at a glacial pace – Tritium has been slightly less busy.

Although just last month, the company was tapped to supply its Veefil 50kW fast chargers for a $10 million EV fast-charging network being rolled out across New South Wales and the ACT by the NRMA.

All of those fast chargers are also being manufactured at Tritium’s base in Brisbane, which was recently expanded to deliver a seven-fold increase in production capacity, from around 60 units a month, to 6,000 a year.

   

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  • Robert Comerford

    Such charging speeds puts another nail in the coffin for use of hydrogen in small passenger vehicles once the charging network is ubiquitous.

  • john

    A feather in the cap for this Brisbane Australian Manufacturer.
    Do they have any installed in their home state?
    The link says a strong user base in their home region so that answers the question.
    With large Voltage capacity it will mean not having to retrofit the charges a few years down the track.
    Being accepted in Europe has to be a good sign for the technology.

    • Kevfromspace

      Yes. The Queensland electric vehicle super highway, consisting of 14x 50kW fast chargers from Toowoomba to Cairns, makes use of Tritium’s previous-gen Veefil 50kW chargers. View their locations on plugshare.com

  • Ren Stimpy

    Wow! 150km of extra range added in just 5 minutes.

    Bye bye ICEs. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

    • Paul

      Mmm, maybe not yet. I add 1,500km of range in 5 min in my ICE. Not sure I want five 5-minute stops on the way to Melbourne. By the time you get in/out of a stop it’s probably 10 minutes each, 50 minutes added to my trip…..

      • Ren Stimpy

        Cost of (Saudi regulated) fuel per km for your ICE, compared with the cost of electricity per km for an EV? Hmm?

        The only barrier was the availability and speed to re-charge. Looks like tech improvement is all keeping pace with the exponential growth curve of EV sales, with more recharge stations and a faster recharge time…. farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

        • Paul

          I’m guessing my fossil fuel is more expensive? But time is money…..

          • Ren Stimpy

            Only a few of years ago a 150km EV recharge would have taken 15 minutes or more and the availability of a recharging station was low.

            Now it takes just 5 minutes and the availability of recharging stations is increasing.

            In a few years from now it will be a 300km charge in 5 minutes and the availability of recharging stations will be across the entire transport network.

            And a few years after that…. it’s all over red rover

          • Paul

            I hope you are right. But the picture currently isn’t so rosy. Battery life is diminished at these charge rates . Advances in battery technology in relation to energy density, charge rates and life are moving quite slowly unfortunately. Cost has come down significantly, but not so much that I would want to diminish its life – we’re still talking $10-20k plus to replace it.

          • Ren Stimpy

            The reducing costs across the entire manufacture, supply, service and recharging model of EVs will see ICEs go the way of the Dodo. Now is the time for ICEs to pull their drumsticks out of their bungholes if they want to reduce costs and compete to stay in their previously captive market in the near future.

          • solarguy

            Keep the battery cool and everything will be sweet.

          • Generally speaking the cost of batteries comes down about 5-7% per year while the energy density improves. Given the batteries should be designed and built to last at least 10 years (as most cars are these days) the cost to replace the battery shouldn’t be too heavy if you do the numbers.

            Most BEV’s these days have around 50-70 kWh batteries and the cost (while different for different manufacturers) is I believe about $150-$200 USD / kWh. Assuming a standard car like the Model 3 which has a ~50 kWh battery that’s $7,500-$10,000 or so for the battery.

            At a 6% reduction over 10 years it becomes about $4,000-$5,500. And don’t forget that most of these batteries aren’t “dead” after that amount of time, they’re just slightly degraded (eg 70-90% capacity instead of 100%).

            So the REAL result is you buy your car, and it can do ~350 km per charge. 10 years later the battery degrades slightly and can only do ~280 km. From there you can either just keep driving your now quite old car OR at most pay about $5,000 to get the latest and greatest battery upgrade where it would likely increase your range to over 500 km.

            I think most would just keep driving the “old” car with the slightly reduced range. Either way, it’s certainly not the dire picture you paint where you have to shell out $20,000! Also don’t forget how much maintenance and fuel costs you will be saving over those 10 years compared to an ICE car. It would more than pay for that $5k I’m sure!

          • Paul

            The point is that if you take advantage of super fast charging frequently the battery life degrades much more quickly. And if the battery costs the manufacturer $100/kWh they’re definitely not selling it to you for that. So I’d say my number is pretty right.

          • The only actual study on long term car battery use in the real world (that I know of) is the one done by Teslanomics on a huge number of Model S cars. It showed that even with people driving over 350,000 KMs their battery packs were still at over 90% capacity.

            Most stabilised at around 91% and lasted above that for years. So while rapid charging does degrade the battery quicker than trickle charging, it’s obviously not that big of a deal. For a normal person to drive 350,000 KMs it’d be a good 20+ years I’d say unless you’re using it as a taxi business (which is what that one person was doing).

            So again, battery degradation doesn’t appear to be a significant issue at least for Tesla’s. I also don’t think anyone’s under the impression their ICE car can drive 350,000 KMs without replacing probably the whole engine, so a few grand on a new battery for an EV doesn’t sound too much of an issue to me. Especially considering it doesn’t seem like it’d even be warranted given you’d still have 90% range left.

          • Hettie

            Oh, Alex!
            You are pitting evidence against prejudice. Which one do you expect to win?

          • I have no expectation to change his prejudice (or whatever you wish to call it).

            The reason I comment with facts and evidence is to ensure future or current readers aren’t mislead by false, generalised opinions that are in fact incorrect.

          • Paul

            No generalised opinions, just facts. But don’t believe me, ask a battery manufacturer about effect on battery life of frequent 20C charging. And to really pop your bubble ask about doing that at sub zero or over 40 deg C.

          • Hettie

            Just so we are all on the same page here, please define *frequent*, in terms of X times per time interval of your choice.

          • I’m glad you have no generalised opinions Paul 🙂

            I’m also well aware of battery life statistics based on temperature, charge power rate and speed. It most certainly takes it’s tole on batteries I agree, that is not being debated.

            But that is why Tesla’s (and some other car manufacturers) have actively managed thermal management systems for their car batteries. These actively (by AC or a heater) ensure the battery is always maintained at the best possible temperature. It’s why Tesla’s perform amazing in sub zero climates like Canada and their second biggest market, Norway.

            Even when the car is “off” this active management warms or cools the battery so it stays around 20c. Yes, it does take some power to do this but the results are clear, their batteries last for hundreds of thousands of kilometres.

            If you’d like to learn more about how they handle batteries feel free to read this piece I wrote on it 👍

            https://www.drivezero.com.au/maximise-ev-battery-life

          • Paul

            20C is charge rate not temperature. Charging at the correct temperature helps, but it’s only a small part of the problem. Tesla does have a good system, but I hear that there are a lot of unhappy Model S taxi drivers in Norway whose batteries haven’t lasted.

          • As far as I’m aware (from my engineering degree) when discussing electricity you have:

            Power: P measured in Watts
            Voltage: V measures in Volts
            Current: A measured in Amps

            I’m not really sure what “20C” is referring to if it’s not standing for 20 degrees celsius…

            As for the lot of unhappy taxi drivers I’d be interested to read up on them, what they did to their cars and the results they got. Do you have a link or source for what you’re referring to?

          • Paul

            C is the battery capacity in kWh (or alternatively in Ah). Charging at 20C would mean charging at 1MW for a 50kWh battery. It’s a standard terminology for charge and discharge rates, handy as it is normalised by battery capacity.

          • Hettie

            Quite so. I tend to forget the importance of that.
            Sorry.

          • Steve Woots

            Frequently. Most charging should be overnight at home / destination, superfast charging only when on trips. If you do Melbourne trips so frequently surely it would be for business, and you would expect to pay a bit for it. And the costs tax deductible?

          • Barri Mundee

            Evidence for that claim if you please.

          • John Saint-Smith

            Pretty impressive performance and endurance from your ICE, considering the car makers have had 100+ years to work on the problems. Trouble is, they still have one big one – emissions delivered first to the air that other people have to breathe, and then hanging around in the atmosphere accumulating for hundreds of years.

            Any progress on CCS for ICEs?

          • Paul

            I can fill up my car at every servo of which there are quite a few. Trumps CCS. Hopefully that will change though

          • John Saint-Smith

            Um, CCS stands for Carbon Capture and Storage..
            I don’t know what you’re getting at every servo, apart from a tank-full of toxins, but wouldn’t you think, that after all this time, the geniuses who invented these infernal internals would have made them less deadly?

          • Paul

            Or Combined Charging System 🙂
            Until we can get more than a fifth of our electricity from renewables EVs spew out just as much carbon as ICEs. And not a whole lot better on other toxins.

          • John Saint-Smith

            But not where the people live.

          • Paul

            The climate is affected equally regardless of where the CO2 emissions are emitted. I live in Adelaide, most of our fossil fuelled power comes from Osborne and Torrens Island – very close to the biggest populated area in the state….

          • Hettie

            John, do you, or anyone, have up to date stats on the percentage of EV owners who have home solar?
            Seems to me it is likely to be very high.

          • rob

            what type of ice or indeed any other vehicle have a 1500 km fuel tank and if time is money why not fly? Do you have a piss bottle in the car?

          • Paul

            I do fly unless I need the car there for a couple of days or more. But it’s an interesting question. Ever pondered why we don’t have electric passenger aircraft?

          • Joe

            They’re coming my friend!

          • Paul

            Most efficient diesels do that. 5l/100kmand 75 litre tank, or in my case 10l/100 and 150l tank

          • solarguy

            Are you going to tell us that you would drive 1500k’s and not feel tired, hungry and bursting for a piss, in that time. You and some other unfortunate poor bastard could end up on a cold slab.

            Get a grip mate!

        • solarguy

          Ain’t it beautiful baby.

      • solarguy

        Perhaps a little longer than that Paul, but as it goes if it can give 150k’s in 5 min what will it do in 20 to a halfa. Time to have a slash and grab a coffee.

        Problem solved.

      • Steve Woots

        You are very likely to start with 300 – 400km range. If you don’t stop after that time/ distance, it’s a worry! 15 – 20 mins to charge up another 300-400km gets you a long way in a day.

  • howardpatr

    Don’t tell Mad Monk Abbott and his band of crazy followers – they will form a new group of luddites to warn the nation of the dangers of EVs and all associated renewable energy technology.

    • Ren Stimpy

      Always rely on Tony Abbott to warn the nation against lower costs, independent energy generation and lower emissions.

      He needs to be finally weeded out of the system by his people, just like Kevin Rudd was by sensible people on the other side of politics.

      • Joe

        To weed ‘The Weed’ out, needs the voters in his seat of Warringah to turn against him. The punters there love ‘their PM’ and Abbott is going around again at next election.

    • Joe

      Australia’s ‘EV Champion’, the Kelly, will be having another stroke with this latest development of EV progression.

      • solarguy

        Let’s hope their friggin heads explode.

  • Robert Cas

    How many cars can charge from each unit. I think the taxt will be increased on EVs to make up for loss of fuel tax.

  • solarguy

    Finally some believable good news. Go Ozzie!

  • Paul Govan

    Surreal irony of course that EV-hostile OZ should be leading the charge in Germany of all places. But open question: I hear so many experts continuing to warn that frequent ultra-fast charging will shorten battery life-span, cause premature loss of capacity/range.
    So what’s the verdict here and in Brisbane ?
    Paul G

    • Hettie

      Most kms by car drivers are in the daily commute. Average 60 km round trip. The long haul trips, even by sales reps (I was one for around ten years) rarely exceed 500km in one day, with working stops along the way. Motels are starting to have charging points, for obvious reasons. So leave home with a full charge, top up a couple of times on the way, then the slow overnight charge at destination.
      And remember that safety demands a break every two hours. Yeah yeah, I used to gas up in Sydney, then drive to Armidale, 5.5 hours, 580 km, but I was stupid. Better to stop in Gloucester, fill up, coffee etc. Which I learned to do. And I’m still alive and uninjured.
      There will be behavioural changes needed, but isn’t that the case with all new technologies? We learn different ways of doing things, and pretty soon it becomes automatic.

      • lin

        Yep, starting out with a full charge and stopping for a bio/recharge break every 3 hours gets you around 1000km per day in an EV, which is about my comfortable maximum. With readily available charge points – hopefully within a couple of years – range anxiety will no longer be an issue for 99% of trips.

  • Francis Young

    What does a charge cost at these 350 KWh charge stations? If they are giving away electricity as a startup promotion, what is the (pre-subsidy) full cost to the IONITY group to charge a vehicle?

    Also, if the Aussie version is 50 KWh, does that mean it takes half an hour to get just 150 Km of range added? And who is paying the cost here, the driver, the promoter, or the taxpayer?

    • Paul

      I think where you say KWh you mean kW. Yes, it would take around half an hour

      • Francis Young

        Thanks, Paul. I think this tech is still very early and cannot pay its way yet. Would anyone know the actual cost of a tank of electricity at a charging station, and who pays it?

    • Steve Woots

      the cost is a fraction of the cost of fossil fuel – about a quarter? Some of these early charge stations are subsidised, but I assume all be be run for profit longer term.
      At a quarter the cost of petrol, I’m happy to pay full rate.

  • Andrew Scott

    SAFE distance driving rule 101:
    Take a 10 minutes break at around 2 hrs of driving time.

    Two hours driving distance equates to 200 kms on a Highway or 150 kms on country roads.

    The driver reviver pause appears to be a good match to the period required for battery replenishment for the distance safely travelled.

  • Paul

    Let’s say more than 20% of charging is at 20C or above. I’d call that frequent.

    • Hettie

      Then I would say your understanding of what the word frequent means is fer different from mine.
      I was looking for an answer, specific to the damaging of batteries by high speed charging, along the lines of 3 times a day, for five days out of seven.
      Or, every two hours, 4 days a week.
      20% at 20C means little , if the battery is charged only twice a week, 20% equates to less than once a fortnight. I presume you mean 20°C, but like so much that you write, that is unclear.

      • Paul

        20C means at 20 times the battery capacity C in kWh. So for a 50kWh battery that’s charging at 1MW as was foreshadowed in the article.

        Battery life is measured in charge cycles, not days, weeks or months, so that’s why 20% of charge cycles is a sensible measure.

        • Hettie

          I await comments on this by others, far more informed on the topic than I am, with interest.
          There has been a divergence of opinion about the extent to which high intensity charging will degrade a battery, and about the practical impact of such degradation.
          It would be good if someone could come up with substantiated figures on both points.
          Otherwise, the discussion comes perilously close to a cry of
          “We’ll all be rooned. “

  • Hettie

    Re-reading this comment stream, which like most includes both excessively silly and thoughtful, informed posts, I wonder how the discussions would have run had today’s communication channels been available in 1902.
    “All very well, these newfangled machines, but horses reproduce themselves, and you can get hay everywhere even if there is no grazing. How are you going to buy enough of this gasoline stuff to be sure of getting were you want to go?”
    Does anyone seriously imagine that automobiles of all sizes and descriptions could have displaced horsee based transport and haulage without a rapidly proliferating network of sales outlets for petrol?
    Then, as now, entrepreneurs saw a developing demand, and worked out how to meet that demand.
    Oil companies already have refuelling stations. Those with ANY sense will be converting some bowswers to recharging stations, and ensuring that they provide the coffee shops and other ways for drivers to spend a pleasant half hour while their EVs are refueled.
    Wherever there is a demand, the market WILL provide. Some will get it wrong, and go bust. Others will get it right and prosper mightily.
    Like so much else in this world, it will not happen overnight, but it WILL happen.