EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes

Electric vehicles are now commonplace on our roads, and charging infrastructure is being built out across the world to serve them. It’s the electric equivalent of the gas station, and soon enough, they’re going to be everywhere.

However, it raises an interesting problem. Gas pumps simply pour a liquid into a hole, and have been largely standardized for quite some time. That’s not quite the case in the world of EV chargers, so let’s dive in and check out the current state of play.

AC, DC, Fast, or Slow?

Since becoming more mainstream over the past decade or so, EV technology has undergone rapid development. With most EVs still somewhat limited in range, automakers have developed ever-faster charging vehicles over the years to improve practicality. This has come through improvements to batteries, controller hardware, and software. Charging tech has evolved to the point where the latest EVs can now add hundreds of miles of range in under 20 minutes.

However, charging EVs at this pace requires huge amounts of power. Thus, automakers and industry groups have worked to develop new charging standards that can deliver high current to top vehicle batteries off as quickly as possible.

As a guide, a typical home outlet in the US can deliver 1.8 kW of power. It would take an excruciating 48 hours or more to charge a modern EV from a home socket like this.

In contrast, modern EV charge ports can carry anywhere from 2 kW up to 350 kW in some cases, and require highly specialized connectors to do so. Various standards have come about over the years as automakers look to pump more electricity into a vehicle at greater speed. Let’s take a look at the most common options out in the wild today. Continue reading “EV Charging Connectors Come In Many Shapes And Sizes”

DIY Arduino Based EV Charger Saves Money, Looks Pro

Electric vehicles (EVs) are something of a hot topic, and most of the hacks we’ve featured regarding them center on conversions from Internal Combustion to Electric. These are all fine, and we hope to see plenty more of them in the future. There’s another aspect that doesn’t get covered as often: How to charge electric vehicles- especially commercially produced EV’s rather than the DIY kind. This is the kind of project that [fotherby] has taken on: A 7.2 kW EV charger for his Kia.

Faced with spending £900 (about $1100 USD) for a commercial unit installed by a qualified electrician, [fotherby] decided to do some research. The project wasn’t outside his scope, and he gave himself a head start by finding a commercial enclosure and cable that was originally just a showroom unit with no innards.

An Arduino Pro Mini provides the brains for the charger, and the source code and all the needed information to build your own like charger is on GitHub. What’s outstanding about the guide though is the deep dive into how these chargers work, and how straightforward they really are without being simplistic.

Dealing with mains power and the installation of such a serious piece of kit means that there are inherent risks for the DIYer, and [fotherby] addresses these admirably by including a ground fault detection circuit. The result is that if there is a ground fault of any kind, it will shut down the entire circuit at speeds and levels that are below the threshold that can harm humans. [fotherby] backs this up by testing the circuit thoroughly and documenting the results, showing that the charger meets commercial standards. Still, this isn’t a first-time project for the EV enthusiast, so we feel compelled to say “Don’t Try This At Home” even though that’s exactly what’s on display.

In the end, several hundred quid were saved, and the DIY charger does the job just as well as the commercial unit. A great hack indeed! And while these aren’t common, we did cover another Open Source EV charger about a year ago that you might like to check out as well.

Continue reading “DIY Arduino Based EV Charger Saves Money, Looks Pro”

The State Of Play In Solid State Batteries

Electric vehicles are slowly but surely snatching market share from their combustion-engined forbearers. However, range and charging speed remain major sticking points for customers, and are a prime selling point for any modern EV. Battery technology is front and center when it comes to improving these numbers.

Solid-state batteries could mark a step-change in performance in these areas, and the race to get them to market is starting to heat up. Let’s take a look at the current state of play.

Continue reading “The State Of Play In Solid State Batteries”

How Can 335 Horses Weigh 63 Pounds?

Koenigsegg, the Swedish car company, has a history of unusual engineering. The latest innovation is an electric motor developed for its Gemera hybrid vehicle. The relatively tiny motor weighs 63 pounds and develops 335 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Dubbed the Quark, the motor uses both radial and axial flux designs to achieve these impressive numbers.

There is a catch, of course. Like most EV motors, those numbers are not sustainable. The company claims the motor can output peak power for 20 seconds and then drops to 134 horsepower/184 lb-ft of torque. The Gemera can supplement, of course, with its internal combustion engine — a 3 cylinder design.

Continue reading “How Can 335 Horses Weigh 63 Pounds?”

China Loves Battery Swapping EVs, But Will They Ever Make It Here?

Electric vehicles promise efficiency gains over their gas-fuelled predecessors, but the issue of recharging remains a hurdle for many eager to jump on board with the technology. The problem is only magnified for those that regularly street park their vehicles or live in apartments, without provision to charge a vehicle overnight at home.

Battery swapping promises to solve that issue, letting drivers of EVs change out their empty battery for a freshly charged one in a matter of minutes. The technology has been widely panned and failed to gain traction in the US.

However, as it turns out, battery swapping for EVs is actually thing in China, and it’s catching on at a rapid rate.

Continue reading “China Loves Battery Swapping EVs, But Will They Ever Make It Here?”

Ask Hackaday: Why Don’t Automakers Make Their Own EV Batteries?

Sales of electric vehicles continue to climb, topping three million cars worldwide last year. All these electric cars need batteries, of course, which means demand for rechargeable cells is through the roof.

All those cells have to come from somewhere, of course, and many are surprised to learn that automakers don’t manufacture EV batteries themselves. Instead, they’re typically sourced from outside suppliers. Today, you get to Ask Hackaday: why aren’t EV batteries manufactured by the automakers themselves? Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: Why Don’t Automakers Make Their Own EV Batteries?”

For All Their Expense, Electric Cars Are Still The Cheapest

A criticism that we have leveled at the move from internal combustion vehicles to electric ones is that their expense can put them well beyond the range of the not-so-well-heeled motorist. Many of the electric vehicles we’ve seen thus far have been niche models marketed as luxury accessories, and thus come with a specification and list price to match. It’s interesting then to see a European report from LeasePlan looking at vehicle ownership costs which reveals that the total yearly cost of ownership (TCO) for an electric car has is now cheaper that comparable internal combustion vehicles across the whole continent in all but the fiercely competitive sub-compact segment.

TCO includes depreciation, taxes and insurance, fuel, and maintenance. Perhaps the most interesting story lies in electric cars progressing from being a high-depreciation, risky purchase to something you can sell on the second-hand market, even if they cost more up front. For example, the electric VW ID3 costs around $11,000 more than the comparable gas-powered VW Golf up front, but the higher resale price later offsets this and helps keep the TCO lower.

We’ve been following electric vehicles for a while now in the hope that an electric people’s car would surface, and have at times vented our frustration on the matter. It’s encouraging to see this particular trend as we believe it will encourage manufacturers to produce more accessible electric vehicles, especially given that we’ve just complained that driving electric seems like more of a rich man’s game.

(via Heise)

Header image: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0.