Pros And Cons Of Fast Charging For Electric Vehicles: What the Indian auto market should be prepared to deal with

In the fast paced world we live in today where everything needs to be done and done super fast, charging of electric vehicles is one more service we are all looking for which can be done in record time, with the least amount of effort and money involved.  However, with each new development comes advantages and disadvantages which we all have to live with.  Electric vehicle is fast changing the way we drive and more and more auto companies are bringing out electric vehicles to counter balance the higher cost of fuel.

EV buyers in India are contemplating electric vehicles but would like to see adequate infrastructure before taking such steps.  We are so used to petrol or diesel stations round every corner that many buyers are wary of what difficulties they may face once they purchase electric vehicles.  Though companies are now realizing the need of the hour is installation of electric charging stations, they are not coming up with such stations as quickly as they should.   Specially more of fast charging units are yet to be installed to meet demand and Japan who are one of the forerunners where electric vehicles are concerned only have about 80 such stations set up across the length and breadth of Japan.

What are the factors that have caused fewer charging stations to be installed? Cost is one factor that plays a very important role.  Installation cost is high.  Inverters cannot be used to charge electric vehicles as they are not powerful enough and also there is a number of safety risks involved in the use of inverters.  Options such as solar charging or wind turbine charging can be resorted to but again the infrastructure cost needs to be taken into account.

Standards not fully adopted: The Society of Automotive Engineers and other such organizations need to complete certain formalities for setting up fast charging of vehicles.  Many countries have their own set of rules and regulations to be adhered to while setting up a charging station and while the cost is high the other necessities too of attendants and other formalities have to be kept in mind.

Success of electric vehicles still doubtful: thought auto companies are quick to bring out new hybrid and electric vehicles, its success is still in doubt.  Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MiEV, Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt are all electric vehicles launched recently but how far these will be successful in the long run needs to be ascertained before companies spend huge amounts setting up fast charging stations to cater to their needs.

Electric vehicles are not really getting the kind of attention that manufacturers hoped they would attract. There are over 100 Chinese manufacturers who have brought out electric vehicles but none of them are doing well primarily due to higher prices and secondly because of doubts in buyers minds regarding their feasibility in the long run. In India, only Mahindra has taken a step forward by taking over Reva.

Charging stations are not feasible in residential areas.  Installation is costly, time consuming and impractical to have on ones residential premises and hence such stations cannot just come up as per customer’s conveniences. It requires heavy cables, Level 3 chargers that are heavy and cumbersome for ordinary persons to manage.

Fast charging can shorten life of batteries:  Fast charging stations can adversely affect the life of your electric car battery.  Even lithium ion batteries can suffer damage or its life may be shortened due to fast charging and hence slower charging is always recommended.

So, though everyone desires fast charging facilities, certain technological adjustments are needed to ensure that these are installed in the least possible cost, convenience and causes least amount of damage to the batteries of your vehicle. While there is plenty of scope for electric vehicles to ply on roads, whether or not the government will invest in EV infrastructure is yet to be seen. If the onus is left to auto manufacturers, then decisions are by and large going to be based on return on investment and profitability.