The EV revolution is coming – charged by Australian technology

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Brisbane-based Tritium has landed a major deal to supply its Australian-made fast charging technology to US-based ChargePoint, developer of the world’s largest EV charging network. In Australia to announce the deal, ChargePoint CEO says the global shift to electric driving is underway – a key part of energy revolution.

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“It’s time to join the revolution.” That was the message delivered by leading investment bank UBS in a note to clients last August that predicted investment in electric vehicles – plus rooftop solar, plus battery storage – would be as low as 6-8 years by 2020, triggering a massive revolution in the energy industry.

This week, the message has been repeated, but this time by the CEO of America’s ChargePoint – developer of the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network. And he says world-leading Australian-made technology will have a key role to play.

ChargePoint chief Pasquale (Pat) Romano is in Australia to participate in a panel discussion about disruptive innovation at the YPO Global EDGE conference in Melbourne this Friday. But he is also in town to announce a huge deal between his California-based business and the Brisbane-based EV infrastructure company, Tritium.

The deal will see Tritium supply ChargePoint – which already has a network of more than 21,000 EV chargers around the US – exclusively with its award-winning Veefil DC fast charging stations, to be installed throughout the States.

The Australian-made stations will be installed on major routes across the country, including the express charging corridors on both the east and west coasts of the US that are being built as part of a recent deal between ChargePoint, Volkswagen and BMW.

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The Australian-made Veefil fast charger as it will appear in the US

The 50kW Veefil stations – which in the US will be called DC Fast stations and will be ChargePoint branded – are able to deliver up to 80 miles or 128 kilometers of charge in just 20 minutes, thus removing one of the key barriers to EV uptake: range anxiety.

“These stations can be used by any EV charging equipped with fast charging and will be installed in convenient locations where drivers need them most,” said Romano in statement about the Tritium deal.

“With access to fast charging stations along major routes, drivers can depend on an EV as their only vehicle.”

Romano, who describes Tritium’s fast-charging technology as “by far and away the best product out there,” told RenewEconomy on Wednesday that he believed the “bulk of the world” will have made the switch to electric vehicles within the next 10 years, mostly because it will just make sense: both economically and environmentally.

“It’s a world engineering effort that’s going on,” he said in a telephone interview with RenewEconomy and Tritium CEO David Finn.

“The solar/renewables problem drives battery development – as good scale storage – which is a huge driver of falling battery costs.”

And of course, the arrival of cost effective batteries removes that other great barrier to EV uptake: cost.

“We’re not waiting for a breakthrough here. That’s what’s exciting – you can see it,” Romano said. “You’re going to see a very, very cost-effective (electric vehicle) market in the next few years.”

It’s like UBS said: “As a virtuous circle, lower battery cost will also spur EV sales, which should bring further economies of scale to batteries, also for stationary applications. Power is no longer something that is exclusively produced by huge, centralised units owned by large utilities.”

For Tritium CEO David Finn, the deal with ChargePoint is a major win: an entree into an advanced and dynamic EV market that is probably even a bit ahead of the EU, where the company recently won supply contracts across three separate countries.

In Australia, Tritium is in the process of building a fast-charge network running down Queensland’s coast – to this end, it installed its first public Veefil station at a BMW dealership in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in February.

But progress has been comparatively slow in Australia, to match its rate of EV uptake – a problem Finn attributes as much to the limited range of vehicle choice, as to more traditional barriers like range anxiety and cost.

In turn, Finn attributes Australia’s limited EV choices to the lack of incentives provided by federal and state governments.

More than for consumers, he says, Australia’s lack of government support for EVs has had a particularly negative impact on vehicle manufacturers, who are reluctant to release electric models to a market that is getting no policy stimuli.

“Free car parking, reduction import duties; these things do make a difference,” Finn told RenewEconomy.

Romano agrees, having seen the positive impact of EV incentives in his home state of California, which is currently home to more than half of America’s plug-in cars.

He himself is the owner of two EVs, as well as a 16.8kW solar array on the roof of his home.

“The US doesn’t act like one consistent country. There are massive differences in EV purchasing from state to state,” Romano said.

“You’re trying to match the economics of a very, very mature gasoline powered industry and you need some help. It’s really not that much relative to gas cars.”

In the meantime, the technologies – and the companies behind them – are just getting on with it.

“ChargePoint approached us because it was attracted by both the design and unique technology of the Veefil, plus the fact that it is extremely simple for the EV owner to use,” said Finn.

“We were looking for a strong partner in the US which had excellent distribution and an established network throughout the country.

“I’m excited by the rate and high volume at which ChargePoint will be able to deploy our product into this market and its commitment to establishing a major network of DC fast chargers.”

Finn says he is also excited by the way battery technology, vehicle technology and the charging technology are becoming aligned.

“Particularly the range of vehicle offerings,” he adds. “Once you see that progression of vehicles, you’ll being to see Australia’s (EV) market open up.”

Romano agrees: “Over the next few years you’re gonna see a renaissance in Australia,” he told RenewEconomy.

“The benefit of being slightly later to the market, Australia will be a generation or two ahead on the battery evolution curve.”

But like Finn, it’s the technological revolution currently transforming the automotive sector that most excites Romano.

“David and I don’t have a business if the cars aren’t there. And the world is missing a huge opportunity if the cars aren’t there – they’re hugely important in the whole environmental equation,” he said.

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15 Comments
  1. Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

    ” able to deliver up to 80 miles or 128 kilometers of charge in just 20 minutes”

    Too damn slow. Tesla Superchargers deliver 170 miles or 272 kilometers in 30 minutes.

    And Tesla is bringing out a faster model.

    • Miles Harding 4 years ago

      Yes, but my EV will only go 120km on a full charge 🙂

      Tesla is doing their own exclusive thing, Veefill is for everybody else. (and Teslas when they figure out the adapter cable thingy)

      • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

        Gen1.0

        Game to be stepped up….

        • Billy Bob 4 years ago

          As Miles said, Tesla is at the high end of the market. For the rest of us (i.e. the majority of us) 120km will do just fine.

    • caskings 4 years ago

      Unless you have a Tesla sized (60-85kw/h) battery. Your EV won’t be able to accept that rate of charge.

      • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

        It looks like we’ll have some 200 mile range EVs coming on the market over the next couple of years.

        Battery prices seem to be falling rapidly and that’s going to mean more affordable longer range EVs.

        • Miles Harding 4 years ago

          One plus would be multi-day autonomy in commuter applications (no need to fast charge) and better applicability in commercial applications, where it is vitally important to be able to escape oil dependency.

          I have found that the 120km range of my EV is more than adequate for private use around the city, although road trips are a bit of an adventure and some additional range would be helpful on those occasional outings. For the time being, my (rarely used) ICE will go 800km on a tank full if I keep it on long straight roads.

          The minus is that I would not be able to make efficient use of a big battery because it will die from age related effects long before its cycle limit is reached**.

          ** This may be the ‘in’ for bidirectional home/grid buffering with EV batteries, as the cycled kWhs are effectively free.

          • Mike Dill 4 years ago

            According to what i have read, current EV battery packs should have 70% or better remaining capacity after 7 to 10 years. with some smart apps, we should be able to continue to use that resource’

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            Sure. If you’re starting with a 200 mile range you might turn your 10 year old 140 mile range EV into your ‘second car’ and use a newer car for long trips. Or take shorter long trips.

            Many people are eventually understand how a 100 mile EV is very usable. There’s probably going to be a ready market for a ten year old EV with 50% to 70% of capacity left.

            There are also several plans for buying up “70%” batteries and using them for grid storage/smoothing. If you want to implant a new, full range battery there’s likely to be a market for your used battery that will help offset the price.

          • Miles Harding 4 years ago

            I would expect this to be so. It’s not something that I have worried about yet. When the battery needs to be replaced, the new cells 5 years hence will likely perform a lot better, so Battery mk2 could be lighter and/or go further.
            Jamming them into the pack case may be a bit of fun, though.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            The new Tesla Roadster is expected to take the range from 245 miles to 400 miles. Production on the Roadster ceased in 2011. There’s very little space in the Roadster, Tesla is not getting to 400 miles by using a larger battery.

            I’d expect “10 year” replacement batteries to be cheaper and much higher capacity (longer range).

            EVs may extend the number of years we drive our cars. With one battery swap and some cosmetic fixes we could easily drive our cars 20 years before they were sold off as ‘low cost bangers’.

          • Miles Harding 4 years ago

            That is what I would expect, in which case they can be driven gently, or re-trained as stationary power supplies. One possibility is that the cell death will by way of the cathode pores getting clogged, in which case they can die suddenly. Eventually we’ll have some idea of how they age…

  2. Chris Marshalk 4 years ago

    The sooner we get rid of this LNP backwards government, the better the Electric Vehicle market will be.

    • caskings 4 years ago

      Sadly I don’t see the Labor party as being any better for the EV market.

  3. disqus_3PLIicDhUu 4 years ago

    The best thing about fast chargers, is, unlike petrol stations, you can install them anywhere there is a grid connection capable of the current capacity.
    That’s virtually anywhere.
    Multiple charging points can be placed anywhere there’s a commercial level of power available and that’s most places and down most main roads.
    Newer battery charge rate levels are improving and there’s other contenders, such as flowcell tech, that could mean delivery liquid electrolytes at service stations, in the future.
    Storage batteries at home, could mean, a constant delivery of the kWh’s need to totally fill a large capacity EV battery over say 23hrs, to dump into the EV in 1 hr for next day use.
    Your charge rate could be 80kWhr/23, only around 3.5kW continuous from the grid

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