Friday, May 20, 2016

Next Gen Fast Charge Networks - An Overview       

May 20th 2016

Next generation electric vehicles will require next generation fast charge networks. These networks will meet the needs and demands of next gen EVs and give them the freedom they need. What are next gen fast charge networks, what characteristics will they have, and why are they important? This article will answer these questions for non Tesla networks and EVs. 

There are three main characteristics of next gen fast charge networks:  

  • First is higher power. This is the most obvious characteristic of next gen networks since next gen cars will be able to charge at 100 to 150 kW because of their larger batteries. 
  • Second is multiple chargers. In order to serve dozens of vehicles per day, avoid queuing, and maintain the highest level of reliability possible, multiple fast chargers at each location is imperative. In other words, two minimum. 
  • Third is intercity locations. Longer distance travel opens up for next gen affordable 200 mile EVs and necessitates fast chargers to be located along main highways across the country. 

Some Examples

Examples of this type of network are Tesla's Supercharger network and Fastned's network in the Netherlands. For higher power, Tesla is already at 120 kW, and Fastned has committed itself to install the fastest chargers at all charging stations as soon as these become available. Both Tesla and Fastned have multiple chargers at intercity locations that enable intercity travel. Ecotricity in the UK and Arctic Roads in Norway typically have two chargers per location and will likely install higher power chargers as they become available. 

Prime Locations & Spacing

In the U.S., prime locations for intercity fast charge stations are at Service Plazas on toll roads, and suitable parking lot areas at places of business within half a mile from the main highway. Parking lot stations will be close to food, drink, and restrooms that are available 24/7. Some will be in large metropolitan areas, but most will be spread across the country in towns and business areas just off the main highway. 

Spacing of next gen locations along highways can range up to 100 miles, with much closer spacing likely on heavily traveled corridors, commuting routes, and in densely populated areas. 

Additional Characteristics & Station Up-time

Besides having a minimum of two fast chargers, some locations will have the grid connections and space necessary for additional chargers to be installed when needed. Battery buffers will increasingly be employed to offset peak demand charges, and canopies with solar panels may pop up at some locations. 

Next gen fast charge network operators will have strategies and measures in place to ensure maximum charger up-time. A target of 99.5% up-time will be the minimum acceptable per station. Fastned has achieved 99.9%. 

Total Freedom

Every vehicle on the road serves to give freedom to its owner in one form or another. The masses will not embrace electric mobility until the EV can symbolize that same freedom that any other car can give. Next gen affordable electric vehicles won't give very many mainstream consumers the freedom they expect until comprehensive next gen fast charge networks exist to convince them to step into one and drive electric!!

This post was also published on Inside EVs:
(May 21st 2016)

Excellent Additional Reading on the Subject:

(October 2015)

To Be Successful, Electric Cars Need Intercity Fast Charging: Opinion
(Jan 2016)

Overview of Plug-in Electric Car Charging Infrastructure in the U.S. - Part 2
(April 2016)

Tesla Supercharger Users Rate Experience Far Better Than Other Fast Charging Users
(May 2016)


  1. An interesting side note is that Rest Areas along Interstate highways would also be good locations for DCFCs, but by law no commercial activity is permitted there, so this is unlikely to happen.

  2. Another side note:
    As future networks mature, it is expected that eventually satellite fast charger locations will become common place too.