The still limited autonomy of electric vehicles remains an obstacle to the acceptance of this solution by several fleet managers. What if stand-alone mobile charging stations could give a boost in the right direction?
During Autosphere’s visit to the most recent Automechanika show in Germany, we saw the proposal of the young firm ME Energy. This German firm is starting to market in Europe a mobile fast-charging station, the Rapid Charger 150, which comes in the form of a fully equipped container.
At the heart of the autonomous power supply, a bioethanol generator. Each Rapid Charger has a system power of 150 kW and can charge two vehicles at the same time. With a full energy tank, 4,000 kWh of charging current is available.
The charging stations can of course be used off-grid and can be moved from one site to another and put into operation within hours of arrival.
Recharging from EV batteries
Closer to home, INGENEXT, a firm specializing in transportation electrification and the sale of recycled electric vehicle parts, is currently conducting a pilot project as part of the Innovation Challenge Program set up by Propulsion Québec. INGENEXT has developed a charging and powering unit based on Tesla Model 3 batteries from the circular economy. Here too, the power supply is autonomous and is intended as an off-grid charging solution.
“These charging units will be able to charge any vehicle, including electric motorcycles and snowmobiles, in addition to being able to replace fuel-powered generators,” explains Marie-Pier Forget, general manager of INGENEXT. A charging unit will be tested this winter in SÉPAQ parks and we are considering commercialization next summer.”
A mobile charging robot
Another interesting approach to making the charging process more flexible comes from California in the form of a small charging robot, the Ziggy from EV Safe Charge. The innovation takes the form of a charging station that moves around underground parking lots to power EVs that have reserved its services on an application.
The robot will even reserve a parking space for you and guide you there. The motorist only has to activate the terminal with his smartphone through the same application. Once it has finished its work, the terminal sends a signal to the customer that his fully-charged car is waiting for him and will serve another vehicle or wisely return to its own side to fill up.
The advantage of this approach is that charging can be done anywhere in the parking lot, not just where the fixed charging stations would be. The drawback is that Ziggy prefers to spend his days indoors and would have no fun in the snow.
These different approaches demonstrate how the service sector is pushing several new solutions to facilitate electrical recharging, especially off-grid.