Lost in all the talk about electric vehicles (EVs) and the future of mobility is much discussion about the infrastructure needed to make the widespread adoption of EVs a reality. A vast network of charging stations is needed, and the huge CES consumer technology show in Las Vegas –– now also one of the nation’s largest auto shows –– offered a platform for advances in this key sector, known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
Three leading suppliers in this sector –– ChargePoint Inc., EVBox and Wallbox –– were among those showcasing the latest offerings among commercial and residential vehicle chargers, which rely heavily on high-performance polymers to deliver not only form but function, including the use of colored LED lights to signal charging status to users.
ChargePoint promotes flexibility
Campbell, Calif.-based ChargePoint rolled out its ChargePoint Home Flex, the company’s newest home charger. It can deliver up to 50 amps, offers a combination of speed and flexibility that the firm claims makes it “the most adjustable home charger on the market today.” Home Flex allows drivers to charge any EV up to nine times faster than a standard wall outlet, the firm says, delivering up to 37 miles of electric driving range per hour (rph).
ChargePoint Home Flex uses the universal J1772™ connector so it can charge any EV on the road today and it has the flexibility to charge at the right speed for drivers. Through the ChargePoint mobile app, the firm notes that drivers can select the right amperage and charging speed from 16 up to 50 amps. The Alexa-integrated app also allows drivers to schedule charging, set reminders to plug in, track all home and public charging activity and more. It’s available now from Amazon for $699.
EVBox has U.S. expansion plans
Amsterdam-based EVBox –– which already has placed more than 100,000 charging points across more than 55 countries –– used CES to introduce its fast charger EVBox Troniq 100 and the redesign of the HPC, ultra-fast charger Ultroniq. The latter model offers ultra-fast charging with a powerful output of up to 350 kW, while its modular configurations of different units “assure compatibility for every use case across the world.”
In an interview on the EVBox booth, Wijnand Diemer, head of product management hardware, confirmed that the European firm intends to set up an assembly plant near Chicago to serve the U.S. market. It aims to open that facility by the second quarter of 2022. EVBox currently has its injection molding done in The Netherlands and in Asia, using polycarbonate, ABS, nylon and nylon 6/6 for its enclosures and for various technical and structural parts.
Diemer said EVBox worked with Eindhoven, Netherlands-based design studio VanBerlo to relaunch the firm’s entire brand language in 2016, which led to a stylish new look of the chargers the company began to manufacture in 2017 and 2018. VanBerlo continues to work with EVBox, and on its website comments on how differences in geographic markets can impact the product’s design.
“When charging a car,” VanBerlo notes, “U.S. residents use a fixed cable charger without having the benefit of proper cable management. We also had to consider the fact that everything is bigger in the U.S., resulting in the challenge that the charger had to be visible and accessible enough in a parking lot with many SUVs.
“We came up with a smart charging unit capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously while offering a smooth user experience through an intuitive interface as well as an integrated cable management system. Easy to install and maintain and — of course — with a striking design.”
Wallbox goes bidirectional
Wallbox, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, is stepping up its U.S. presence with the planned 2020 introduction of Quasar, which it calls the world’s first bidirectional EV charger for the home. Quasar not only charges EVs but can also send electricity back to the grid or even power a home.
“Quasar is the first charger for the home to allow bidirectional charging. This will help us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which is essential because our energy consumption as a society increases every day,” said Wallbox co-founder and CEO Enric Asunción. “To provide a sustainable future, we have to ensure the energy we use is clean. As bidirectional charging offers us the possibility to store energy from renewable sources for later use, it will help us to move toward this future.”
Since its founding in 2015, Wallbox has shipped some 30,000 residential charging units, and says it was using CES 2020 as the launchpad into the U.S. market, where it has an office in Mountain View, Calif. It initially intends to sell two products in North America –– its new Quasar bi-directional charger (priced at $4,000) and its Pulsar Plus charger, with both Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity (priced at $650). It is selling the Quasar in Europe now, and plans to introduce it to the U.S. later this year. It expects to have a North American model of Pulsar Plus ready for sale by mid-year.
Aleix Rull, the firm’s Barcelona-based technical director said the firm uses a PC/ABS blend for its enclosures, and the Quasar additionally features a smooth, glossy PC face. Ruiz said Wallbox is working now with UL to obtain the necessary certifications for the U.S. market.
The right materials for the job
Covestro LLC, the world’s largest maker of polycarbonate resins and blends, sees the EVSE sector as having major growth potential.
“When it comes to the electric vehicle charging industry,” said Joel Matsco, market manager – electronics polycarbonates for North America, at CES, “Covestro has a very broad portfolio of products in the Makrolon polycarbonate family that’s well suited for the requirements that are both critical and unique –– the durability, and the toughness and strength of the material, plus the safety requirements. The flammability as well as weatherability of the units [is also key]. We’re F1-rated in the products that we put into those chargers.”
EVBox’s Diemer concurred, noting that his firm is a big user of Covestro’s materials. “Makrolon has good flow and surface properties, good aesthetics, is relatively UV stable, and has its UL certifications.”
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3 Responses to “Delivering a charge to the EV market”
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