Is EV charging technology the next challenge for the electric vehicle industry?August 10, 2013
It would be foolish and wrong to suggest that the electric vehicle market is about to break into the mass market but the signs are that interest is increasing, sales are set to double in the US and recent price reductions have certainly caught the attention of potential buyers. However, there is a potentially difficult situation approaching the EV industry in the shape of charging technology which could be the key to the short to medium-term take-up of this ever popular mode of transport.
At this moment in time there are two mainstream EV charging technologies available and Tesla Motors has a standalone service which it has created for its own customer base. So what is the problem and how can it be resolved?
At this moment in time the three main technologies available to the EV charging sector a very different and so far incompatible. This means that businesses, local authorities and individuals looking to install EV charging facilities will need to choose between the three options available in the knowledge that potentially at least one of these options could fall by the wayside in the future. This could lead to a significant waste of investment funding in the short to medium term until a general electric vehicle charging protocol can be agreed.
All of the parties involved in the electric vehicle charging market have been in discussions but at this moment in time, much as we saw with the old video technology in its early days, no party is giving way to its competitor.
Will we eventually see a general protocol for EV charging?
At this moment in time some sceptics might suggest that a globally agreed EV charging protocol is still some way off. On the surface this may seem the case, although behind-the-scenes there is no doubt that the industry is looking for a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Each of the parties involved will be looking to protect its own intellectual property, looking to protect its future income streams and ultimately looking to protect its own customer base.
Unfortunately, there will be winners and losers in the medium to longer term and while Tesla is unlikely to give way and allow others to offer similar services to its customer base, the remaining two will need to fight it out for the lion’s share of the market. A short-term solution may well be to offer the two mainstream services, and potentially Tesla technology, in one standalone charging station that this would be expensive, time-consuming and ultimately in the end a waste of money.
The sooner all of the companies involved in the electric vehicle charging sector come together and resolve their issues the better for all concerned. This does have the potential to stall the impressive growth in electric vehicle use in the short term and while the parties involved can shout and scream as much as they want they will eventually have to come to an agreement.
The electric vehicle industry has faced a number of challenges over the last 100 years and while the sector as a whole is certainly making progress towards the mass market, there are issues with regards to electric vehicle charging technology that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. There are two mainstream technologies available today, plus the Tesla service for its own customer base, although ultimately the two mass market technologies will need to fight it out and come to some kind of agreement about a standard protocol going forward.
In some ways this is perhaps one of the largest challenges facing the EV market today as we have seen significant improvement in electric vehicle manufacturing as well as electric vehicle battery technology. Once the industry does hit the mass market, as it almost inevitably will, it will have taken well over 100 years to achieve this and the industry will have overcome an array of challenges which at times seemed impossible. It will certainly be worth the wait!
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