Chargers have become a hot topic in Britain as plug-in sales rise
Jaguar's I-Pace will be one of the first cars to benefit from 150kW chargers
The Audi E-tron is a close competitor and will also arrive in showrooms later this year
Another car set to benefit is the Volkswagen ID, which is due on roads next year
Installation of the UK’s first 150kW electric vehicle rapid chargers will begin in this half of 2018, the CEO of Pod Point has told Autocar.
The brand’s new chargers will have the highest EV plug power in Britain. Erik Fairbairn, who founded the London-based charger company in 2009, said this will allow them to provide significantly faster charge times than the UK’s current network of 50kW plugs.
“We’re bringing this to market as the UK is on the cusp of an electric revolution,” said Fairbairn. “We’re about to see a lot more EVs go on sale, so bringing the 150kW charger out now is a logical next step for us.”
The plug-in car segment soared by 34.8% last year, representing 4.7% of the new car market with 119,000 examples registered.
The I-Pace, which is due on roads in July, is claimed to be capable of charging its 90kWh lithium ion battery pack to 80% in just 45min. With the UK's current 50kW rapid chargers, it would need around 90min.
Fairbairn said Pod Point’s new 150kW chargers won’t risk overloading the UK’s electricity infrastructure, despite concerns that more powerful plugs could cause power shortages in some areas.
Tesla's Superchargers are capable of dispensing 145kW, but current Tesla models can only accept up to 120kW.
“The reality, in my view, is that a lot of the grid problems have been overstated,” Fairbairn said. “I admit there is a challenge, but much of it can be overcome with smart charging.”
Fairbairn said that places with multiple 150kW chargers would be able to manage the flow of power to each car in order to “charge each one before the owner returns” without overloading the local network.
“We installed 67 chargers this week in one place of work's car park,” he explained. “Of course, it couldn’t power all 67 flat out at once, but we can sequence and control the charge of them so they’re all charged intelligently.”
While such technology may seem complicated, Fairbairn said that the latest systems aren’t much harder to roll out than previous ones. “To make a 150kW charger is not mind-blowingly more difficult than to make a 50kW one," he said, "because you’re effectively just putting more things in parallel”.
As such, Fairbairn expects Pod Point’s first 150kW chargers to be installed in the UK “in about three months”. From this time, the company will also allow 50kW chargers to be installed with 150kW transformers in order to futureproof them, thus avoiding high infrastructure upgrade costs in the future.
Fairbairn thinks 350kW chargers, like the ones currently being rolled out in Germany, Norway and Austria, could be added to Britain’s network in small numbers in as little as 18 months.
Chargemaster, another British charger company, is also working on 150kW chargers. A spokesman said that they’re in the “development pipeline”, so could be installed in Britain in 2019.
The Government is contributing to the expansion of the UK's charger network as well, having established an On-street Residential Charging Scheme that can be used to pay for 75% of charger installation costs. Just five UK councils have dipped into the pot of available money so far, however. The Chargepoint spokesman pointed out that councils may be unable to provide even 25% of money towards new chargers due to the Government’s ongoing austerity measures.
National Grid, which controls the UK's electricity network, recently pitched a network of 50 EV charging stations with a capacity of up to 350kW across England and Wales, as well as a similar network in Scotland.