- Category: World News
- Published on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 10:05
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 2532
Public charging points are key to promoting and popularising EVs
Technological revolutions (like any revolution) need many equal parts to work. While on the one hand EV technologies are gaining ground, their momentum is considerably slowed due to a lack of public readiness and supporting infrastructure. Henry Ford was perspicacious enough to understand that the laying of thousands of miles of asphalt would have to precede the automobile if it was to become a quintessential part of the American way of life, as he correctly assumed. Public fuel station networks that were easy and efficient were the next important intervention that, along with good roads, paved the way for the mass appeal and popularity of the automobile in the 1930s.
A similar predicament faces EVs today. While roads are ready, efficient EV technologies,public acceptance and infrastructure are yet to come along for the ride. It is now becoming common knowledge that infrastructure has to be firmly rooted if a technology is to mature and gain mass acceptance. Many countries of the world that are EV friendly are taking infrastructure seriously. Many times there is a cultural uniqueness and creativity to these interventions. In Austria ( a country that is particularly known to approach social and environmental complexities through intelligent design), old telephone booths are being turned into public charging stations for EVs.
Japan is another nation that is very EV friendly. With more than a third of hybrids and EVs from Japanese makers being bought and used by natives, the quest is on to develop a highly efficient and utilitarian public charging station network to service these EV owners. Panasonic Electric Works are leading an initiative to set up charging points at vending machines across the nation. Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan and stand at the heart of its social and economic life. It may not be long before one sees Japanese motorists charging up at vending machines after buying a can of coke or a packet of chips. This is not a science fiction scenario. Work has commenced and Panasonic (who are developing the chargers), along with a syndicate of other Japanese companies who will provide supporting services, plan to install up to 10,000 charging points across Japan by 2012. The EV revolution has come to this island nation that by all accounts are the world leaders in this segment. What has made this possible is a fortuitous combination of technological advances, official support and mass awareness. If other countries are lagging behind, then it is for the lack of any one of these critical factors.
Many countries, particularly those in the developing world, can take a page from the Japanese book on the importance of setting up low cost public charging points with high use and access. India is a country that has millions of small soft retail outlets both in its cities and rural hinterlands. These 'bunk' shops sell anything from tobacco and toothpaste to sweets and fruits. Many of these have now added pre-paid mobile phone top-ups to their services. Charging up light EVs (cycles,mopeds and scooters) can definitely be included into this constantly evolving menu of services to the rural customer.
The importance of stand-alone charging points has not been lost upon us at evFuture and we have understood the critical importance of charging infrastructure in the EV mix. A considerable amount of our time and resources is allocated to its research and betterment . We have designed and installed a small network of experimental charging points in the international township of Auroville to facilitate public charging for the small but constantly growing numbers of EV users and owners here. Work is underway in developing a solar based charging station prototype,which has potential for remote places that are not on the power grid.
We will be happy to hear from anyone with a deep knowledge and understanding of EV charging points to collaborate or share ideas with in order to take this vital technology further.