Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

by | Aug 8, 2021 | Articles, Batteries & Battery Charging, Electric vehicles, General, SS

Updated August 2021

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

As of 2021, it is becoming increasingly clear that reducing fossil-fuelled vehicles (particularly diesel) to a truly safe level is impossible. Hence the trend to electric and hybrid vehicles. Many countries are already banning (or will ban soon) the sale of fossil-fuelled cars. These include France, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. Twelve American states adhere to California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program.

The USA’s Trump administration eased the requirement. It reduced it from the mandated 5% a year – to 1.5% a year. Environmental bodies, led by California, challenged Trump’s backward step. Unless Trump is (improbably) re-elected, this situation is likely to change.

In the first year of the current regulation, carmakers must cut emissions by 10% more than Trump required. They would then have to make 5% yearly reductions.

Administration officials say the rule would save drivers money at the pump. It would decrease fuel consumption by about 200 billion gallons over four years. Furthermore, the standards would prevent an additional 2 billion metric tonnes of carbon pollution from being released into the atmosphere.

The proposal postpones ongoing arguments over how much to restrict vehicle emissions in 2027 and beyond. In the August 2021 executive order, the President directed agencies to begin work on the next standards.

John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, called on Congress and state legislatures to invest in the infrastructure needed for the increase in electric and hybrid vehicles.

In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (the merger of Fiat Chrysler and French carmaker PSA) declared their ‘shared aspiration’ to make 40% to 50% of new vehicle sales electric by the end of the decade.

Environmental advocates cheered President Biden’s administration’s pledge to cancel the Trump regulations. Many, however, say the administration’s proposed replacement does not go far enough. In a letter to the President, they called for a 60% cut to vehicle emissions by 2030. This goal would be difficult to meet under the administration’s proposed pollution rules. Furthermore, environmentalists are wary of car companies’ ongoing promises to phase out internal combustion engines. ‘Today’s proposal relies on unenforceable voluntary commitments from unreliable carmakers to make up to 50% of their fleets electric by 2030’, says Dan Becker, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport Campaign. ‘Global warming is burning forests, roasting the West, and worsening storms. Now is not the time to propose weak standards and promise strong ones later,’ he said.

Becker and others said that auto companies already have the technology to meet tougher standards than those being proposed by the Biden administration, but rarely use it in the USA. Automakers argue they’re unable to meet stricter standards because Americans prefer larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.

In recent years, some automakers have been able to meet federal standards. They do so, however, not by producing cleaner cars, but by cashing in credits earned by making a few electric and hybrid vehicles.

The proposed regulations are part of the administration’s efforts to push Americans to buy more electric and hybrid vehicles. Biden has asked Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars to make the vehicles more affordable through tax credits. Also to electrify 20% of the nation’s school buses by 2030.

At stake in that bill is the President’s ability to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Environmentalists say the only way to meet that goal is to mandate that all new cars be emissions-free by 2035.

So far the US federal government has announced its new rules to finalize fuel consumption and emissions standards; they’re in effect for the 2021–2026 model years. Fuel consumption and emissions must be reduced by 1.5 percent each year. The original proposal froze the standards at 2020 levels. California and other states continue to wage a lengthy legal battle to overturn all this.

Relaxed fuel-economy rules are now in effect. For new cars built over the next six years, automakers must still increase efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions each year but at a lower climb than the original regulations.

The new rules affect new cars and light-duty trucks from 2021 through 2026 model years. Fuel consumption and emissions must each drop by 1.5% annually as compared to the 2012 ruling’s 5% annual decreases. The 2018 draft proposal froze the 2020 model-year standards and applied them through 2026. The previous rule required an industry fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year. This was later amended to 46.7 mpg. The final rule is 40.4 mpg. That rule ups the USA’s estimates of emissions and fuel consumption by up to two billion barrels and 923 million metric tons of CO2.

President Biden says the future of the auto industry ‘is electric and there’s no turning back. The question is whether we’ll lead or fall behind in the race for the future.’ His administration also unveiled a plan for new, stricter fuel economy and emission standards, which would be legally binding. Furthermore, they will be the most stringent such standards ever set – and followed by even stricter rules. Transportation is the USA’s largest source of greenhouse gases. Moving to electric and hybrid vehicles is seemingly the President’s central plank to fight climate change.

Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, which make Jeep, Ram, and Chrysler vehicles, all issued statements expressing support for a 40% to 50% target of vehicle electrification. This is roughly in line with President Biden’s executive order. BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, and Volvo also said they supported it.

Currently, electric and hybrid vehicles account for about 2% of new car sales in the United States. A 40% to 50% target by 2030 is ambitious but the global auto industry has embraced electrification. Most automakers had already announced similar or more ambitious targets independently. Volvo, for instance, plans to be entirely electric by 2030.

‘These sales targets are certainly not unreasonable, and most likely achievable by 2030 given that automakers have already baked in large numbers of electric and hybrid vehicles into their future product cycles,’ noted Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at the USA car data site Edmunds. ‘Regardless of who has been in the White House, automotive industry leaders have seen the writing on the wall for some time now when it comes to electrification’. Electric and hybrid vehicles

Pic: www.drivespark.com

Apart from minor rubber tyre particles, electric vehicles are virtually emission-free. They are also about 80% efficient. If, however, their electricity is from fossil-fuelled power stations, their emissions are similar to year-2020 petrol-fuelled (or hybrid) vehicles.

Dirty Power Stations

Electricity vendors promote grid energy as ‘clean’. At present, however, that applies only to its usage. Worldwide, its generation is mostly filthy. In many countries, they generate about one–third of all carbon monoxide emissions.

Fully electrically-powered vehicles are virtually non-polluting. Most are over 80% energy efficient. If, however, the electricity they use is from most current power stations, their emissions are no lower than of a 2021 model petrol or hybrid vehicle. It thus makes little environmental sense to use an electric-only vehicle unless that electricity is wind or solar-generated. In many parts of the world is feasible (for commuting at least) to charge an electric vehicle by using solar energy at your home or place of work.

Electric and hybrid vehicles – the energy required

Most electric cars use about 1.0 kW/h to travel about 5 km. An electric vehicle (used as above) thus uses about 8 kWh of electricity/day. Grid electricity, on long-term contracts, costs about 20 cents per kW/h. If so the fuel cost is a mere A$1.60 daily. However, using grid power results in no overall fall in emissions. Unless you can solar-generate about 8 kW/h for daily commuting, it is better to use a hybrid as a typical hybrid generates less pollution than an electric-only vehicle run from our existing power stations. Hybrids, however, are being progressively being phased out globally.

Charging from home solar

For those with ample home or business solar, it is readily feasible to charge the battery (or fuel cells) from that source. Such charging can even be done overnight by selling daytime solar energy to a grid supplier. You then repurchase it (often at low off-peak rates) at night. Or, to have ample solar energy available where the vehicle is parked during the day. Where ample sun access is available, there is a business opportunity for parking stations to provide vehicle battery charging.

Battery Technology

Mainly retarding electric-car development is the ultra-slow improvement of rechargeable batteries. The first-known lead-acid was invented by Gaston Planté (in 1859). In 1881, Camille Alphonse Faure’s improved version (of a lead grid lattice and a lead oxide paste) enabled higher and flexible performance. It was also easier to mass-produce. Sealed versions later enabled batteries to be used in different positions without failure or leakage. That apart, there were no significant developments until the AGM (Amalgamated Glass Matt) version initially developed for the U.S. military around 1980.

The next major development was the lithium-ion battery. This reduced battery weight and volume by over three times. It enabled charging and discharging at far higher rates. But while a significant battery breakthrough, its energy storage of 0.5 MJ per kilogram is tiny. That of petrol and diesel’s is 45 M.J. per kilogram: that of hydrogen’s is 142 MJ per kilogram.

The latest major development (late-2020) is graphene-based batteries. These can (potentially) provide up to 750-800 km per full charge. Graphene is a one-atom-thick composition of carbon atoms. The atoms are tightly bound in a hexagonal or honeycomb-like structure. This virtually two-dimensional structure enables excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. It also provides high flexibility and strength, and low weight.

Graphenano claims its graphene-based batteries can be fully charged in just a few minutes. Furthermore, that they can charge and discharge 33 times faster than lithium-ion. Another development, (Gelion), uses zinc-bromine chemistry in combination with advanced electrolytes. These can be all-liquid, liquid/ion gel, or all-ion/gel.

Solid-state Batteries

Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) revolutionary solid-state battery may provide up to 1400 km (875 miles) range. They are about half the size of comparable batteries. The first commercial vehicles with such solid-state batteries are likely to be launched by 2025 or so.

SAIT is also studying lithium-air battery technology. It focuses on cathode technology, protective films for lithium metal anodes, and electrolytes for energy-density improvement, long-term reliability, and safety. This technology has the potential to provide a range of more than 800 km (500 miles) on a single charge.

Battery Prices

Battery prices, which were above $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010, fell to $156 per kilowatt-hour in 2019. Research company BloombergNEF forecast that the average price will be close to $100/kWh by 2023.

Many other battery technologies are in hand – as are significant developments in fuel cells.

Hydrogen as a fuel

Worldwide, hydrogen is being seriously considered to replace petroleum products. A major benefit is that it is close to being emission-free. A downside, however, is that is very corrosive. In terms of mass, hydrogen has nearly three times the energy content of petrol: 120 MJ/kg versus 44 MJ/kg for petrol. In terms of volume, however, liquified hydrogen’s density is 8 MJ/L. Petrol’s density is 32 MJ/L.

Work is in progress to highly compress stored gas. Fibre-reinforced composite pressure vessels are capable of withstanding about 700 times the atmospheric pressure at a lower cost than before. Other ways include cold or cryo-compressed hydrogen storage, and materials-based hydrogen storage technologies. These include sorbentschemical hydrogen storage materials, and metal hydrides.

Hydrogen can be used to power existing petrol-powered vehicles (and with only minor changes). Plans have already been drawn up to have fleets of hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses on routes in up to ten central hub locations across Australia.

Another approach (already by car makers) is electric vehicles fuelled by stored hydrogen that is converted to electricity by a fuel cell.

Hydrogen fuelling stations

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) the major hydrogen-producing states are California, Louisiana, and Texas. ‘Today, almost all of the hydrogen produced in the United States is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods,’ the department states. However, in California, a new market for hydrogen is opening up, one driven by the demand for the gas to power fuel-cell electric vehicles. The state has been actively encouraging the growth of this market, offering carbon credits which act as an incentive to providers of hydrogen and other clean-energy technologies to establish and grow out their businesses in California.

In addition, last September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring that by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission. A number of international truck manufacturing companies have already announced plans to introduce hydrogen fuel-cell powered long-haul trucks, while passenger cars fueled by hydrogen, such as the Toyota Mirai, are already on the market.

Of the 48 hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S., 45 are located in California, according to the DOE. In total, California has 50 laws and incentives related to the use of hydrogen, compared with Texas, which has seven.

Fuel cells

Fuel cell electric vehicles are fuelled by stored hydrogen that is converted to electricity by the fuel cell. They are more efficient than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. They are almost silent. Furthermore, they produce no harmful emissions: only very pure water vapour and warm air.

These vehicles and the infrastructure to fuel them are in the early stages of being implemented. As with conventional vehicles, they take under five minutes to refuel. Currently, most have a range of about 500 km (300 miles). Fuel cell electric vehicles also have regenerative braking systems. These capture the energy lost during braking and store it in a battery.

Higher Weight – a Benefit for Towing

Lighter and more energy-compact batteries are evolving. Without a truly major change in battery technology, however, vehicles suitable for caravan towing are likely to be heavier than now (late 2021). This weight, however, is a bonus. For towing stability, the tow vehicle needs to outweigh the caravan.

The secondary source of electrical energy for RV and domestic use may well be via fuel cells, of which there is significant and ongoing international development.

Electric motor drive is ideal for caravan towing

Fossil-fuelled vehicle engines only develop their maximum torque (i.e. turning power) at relatively high engine speed. The types of electric motor used in electric and hybrid vehicles, however, develop maximum torque at zero and low speed. This characteristic is ideal for caravan towing.

Electrical and hybrid vehicles suitable for caravan towing

Many hybrid SUVs and serious off-road 4WDs are available in Australia. These include the Land Rover and Range Rover, Lexus NX and R.X, the Mercedes GLE, the Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo X160 and X190. Also possibly worth considering are the   Rivian XIT and RIS. Scheduled now for sale in 2022, each has four electric motors totalling 550 kW of power (750 hp) and 1124 Nm of torque. These enable a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint in around three seconds, with a claimed range of over 640 km (400 miles). Why anyone needs such power, however, is unclear. One U.S. magazine suggests the Rivian ‘looks like a Ford F-150 on a gym-and-yoga regime’.

Both the R1T and R1S are underpinned by the same all-electric ‘skateboard’ platform, offering up to 644 km from a 180 kWh battery pack for the dual-cab ute, and 483 km from a single charge for the seven-seat SUV.

The Toyota Land Cruiser is already being converted to an all-electric drive (for mining applications) by the Dutch company Tembo.

Electric toyota landcruiser and hilux are go: aussie company wins big fleet deal

The Tembo Electric LandCruiser. Pic: Tembo.

According to Japan’s Best Car Web a local company is also planning to sell electric-only LandCruisers for normal use. Toyota may offer a petrol/electric hybrid Land Cruiser in Australia. The company launched one in the USA. Sales, however, did not exceed 8000 or so. The iconic Jeep Wrangler is to be sold in a hybrid form – probably by 2022. Full details have not yet been released.

The prospects for caravanners are generally good. There are seemingly no downsides apart (and initially) a need to ensure charging facilities are available in remote areas. That, however, is cheaper and simpler than for petrol or diesel. It also offers opportunities for landowners to build solar arrays and install rapid chargers

Feasible from solar

For those with ample home or business solar, it is readily feasible to charge the battery (or fuel cells) from solar. Such charging of electric and hybrid vehicles can even be done overnight by selling daytime solar energy to a grid supplier and repurchasing it (often at low agreed-off-peak rates) at night. Or, to have ample solar energy where the car is during the day.

Electric vehicle charging

The cable, usually supplied with the vehicle, plugs into a 10-15 amp, single-phase power point. This, however, will provide only 10-15 km of range per hour that you’re plugged in. Not recommended if you want to fully charge your vehicle in a hurry. 

That which is really required is a commonly called ‘fast charger. This needs from 25 kW to 35 kW (40–50 amp, three-phase). These are typically found in commercial premises, car parks and a few road-side locations. If at home, consult an electrician to see if it is feasible. It generally is, but will need specialised installation. 

Once plugged in, the home installation will provide about 150 km of range per hour plugged in; the upper end can give you a full recharge in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. 

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A public AC charging point at a shopping centre or car park and a standard domestic AC “wall box” charger (which can be powered by renewable energy, like solar) you’d have at home are capable of charging at a rate of up to 7 kW (10-15 amp, single-phase). You can expect to gain around 40 km of range per hour plugged in, which will most likely be enough to top up your average daily use, and capable of fully charging your electric vehicle overnight. 

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How many electric car charging stations are there in Australia? At this stage, there’s not a whole lot spread across the map: approximately 2500, which is a drop in the ocean when you consider that China has 800,000-plus public EV chargers, having rolled out a whopping 4000 a day in December 2020 alone. 

There are several EV charging infrastructure providers operating within Australia, including Chargefox (currently our biggest network), Jet Charge, Tritium, EVSE, Schneider Electric, Keba, EVERTY, NHP Electrical Engineering and eGo Dock.

In terms of where are the chargers within Australia, here’s a brief breakdown based on statistics gathered in October 2020. 

NSW

153 DC chargers and 630 AC chargers for a combined total of 783 charging points (as you’d expect, the majority of these are in and around Sydney). There are approximately 4627 EVs in NSW, meaning there are only 0.17 charging stations per EV.

Victoria

86 DC chargers and 450 AC chargers for a combined total of 536 charging points. According to EV charging network provider Chargefox, an EV charging station located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick is the country’s busiest, with 725 charging sessions alone for the month of March, 2021.

QLD

Has 59 DC chargers and 336 AC chargers for a combined total of 395 charging points. Queensland also has what they call an “electric super highway” consisting of 31 fast-charging sites, allowing Queenslanders and tourists to confidently travel from Coolangatta to Port Douglas, and from Brisbane to Toowoomba in EVs.

WA

Has 25 DC chargers and 202 AC chargers for a combined total of 227 charging points. In April 2021, motoring organisation RAC Western Australia opened Perth’s first ultra-rapid charging station at its head office in West Perth, with chargers available offering 400km of range in less than 15 minutes.

SA

19 DC chargers and 216 AC chargers for a combined total of 235 charging points.

NT

Zero DC chargers and 13 AC chargers for a combined total of 13 charging points. No, that’s not a lot.

ACT

11 DC chargers and 39 AC chargers for a combined total of 50 charging points.

Tasmania 

4 DC chargers and 64 AC chargers for a combined total of 68 charging points.

The future of EV charging stations in Australia 

The adoption of EVs in Australia has been slow, hence a relatively low number of public EV charging stations, but the situation is improving. 

There’s been an increase in federal and state governments investing in public chargers, and private companies have been building networks along highways.

Local councils are also increasingly installing chargers in public areas as demand for EV chargers from local communities increases. 

In the Australian government’s Infrastructure Priority List 2020 (a guide to the investments required to ‘secure a sustainable and prosperous future’) – the independent advisory body (Infrastructure Australia) identified the development of a fast-charging network for electric cars as one of Australia’s highest national priorities over the next five years. Infrastructure Australia, however, cited a lack of access to charging stations as a major hindrance to the uptake of electric cars.

Furthermore, data from the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia (EVC) states that Australia currently has less than 2000 public charging stations and only 250 of those are fast-charging stations. The EVC likewise cites the lack of charging stations in Australia as hindering the uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles. Moreover, data shows that two-thirds of drivers still regard the lack of sufficient charging stations as a major barrier to buying an electric vehicle.

(Those currently existing in late 2020 are listed at https://myelectriccar.com.au/charge-stations-in-australia/red)

But what exactly is an electric car charging station? And are there electric car charging stations in Australia?

Different types of electric car recharge station

When it comes to categorising EV chargers, there are three different levels. 

The bog-standard wall socket you plug your toaster and mobile phone charger into that delivers AC electricity? That’s a Level 1 charger. 

A cable usually supplied with the EV plugs into the 10-15 amp, single-phase power point, delivering around 10-20 km of range for each hour that you’re plugged in. Not recommended if you want to fully charge your EV in a hurry. 

Level 2

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A public AC charging point at a shopping centre or car park and a standard domestic AC “wall box” charger (which can be powered by renewable energy, like solar) you’d have at home are both Level 2, and these dedicated EV chargers are capable of charging at a rate of up to 7 kW (10-15 amp, single-phase).

Expect to gain around 40 km of range per hour plugged in, which will most likely be enough to top up your average daily use, and capable of fully charging your EV overnight. 

Level 3

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Commonly called “fast chargers” or “superchargers”, these are dedicated DC chargers that operate at power levels from 25 kW to 350 kW (40–500 amp, three-phase). 

As you’d guess, DC chargers deliver electricity a whole lot faster than AC chargers, and they are typically found in commercial premises, car parks, and roadside locations. 

Once plugged in, the lower end of this method will add about 150 km of range per hour plugged in; the upper end can give you a full recharge in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. 

Tesla has its own network of DC Superchargers in Australia – there are close to 40 spread around the country, with more on the way – but despite being the world’s fastest chargers, they’ll only work with Teslas and no other EV models.

Electric car charging stations in Australia

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As of late 2021, Australia has less than 2500 public car charging stations. proximately 2500, which is a drop in the ocean when you consider that China has 800,000-plus public EV chargers, having rolled out a whopping 4000 a day in December 2020 alone. 

There are several EV charging infrastructure providers operating within Australia, including Chargefox (currently our biggest network), Jet Charge, Tritium, EVSE, Schneider Electric, Keba, EVERTY, NHP Electrical Engineering and eGo Dock.

In terms of where are the chargers within Australia, here’s a brief breakdown based on statistics gathered in later 2020. 

NSW

153 DC chargers and 630 AC chargers for a combined total of 783 charging points (as you’d expect, the majority of these are in and around Sydney). There are approximately 4627 EVs in NSW, meaning there are only 0.17 charging stations per EV.

Victoria

86 DC chargers and 450 AC chargers for a combined total of 536 charging points. According to EV charging network provider Chargefox, an EV charging station located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick is the country’s busiest, with 725 charging sessions alone for the month of March, 2021.

QLD

Has 59 DC chargers and 336 AC chargers for a combined total of 395 charging points. Queensland also has what they call an “electric super highway” consisting of 31 fast-charging sites, allowing Queenslanders and tourists to confidently travel from Coolangatta to Port Douglas, and from Brisbane to Toowoomba in EVs.

WA

Has 25 DC chargers and 202 AC chargers for a combined total of 227 charging points. In April 2021, motoring organisation RAC Western Australia opened Perth’s first ultra-rapid charging station at its head office in West Perth, with chargers available offering 400km of range in less than 15 minutes.

SA

19 DC chargers and 216 AC chargers for a combined total of 235 charging points.

NT

Zero DC chargers and 13 AC chargers for a combined total of 13 charging points. No, that’s not a lot.

ACT

11 DC chargers and 39 AC chargers for a combined total of 50 charging points.

Tasmania 

4 DC chargers and 64 AC chargers for a combined total of 68 charging points.

The future of EV charging stations in Australia 

The adoption of EVs in Australia has been slow, hence a relatively low number of public EV charging stations, but the situation is improving. 

There’s been an increase in federal and state governments investing in public chargers, and private companies have been building networks along highways.

Local councils are also increasingly installing chargers in public areas as demand for EV chargers from local communities increases. 

Infrastructure Australia has called for the Australian government to, over the next five years, ‘develop a network of fast-charging stations on, or in proximity to, the national highway network to provide national connectivity’: and ‘developing policies and regulation to support charging technology adoption’.

Read more about electric cars

Collyn Rivers is a semi-retired automobile research engineer.  He is the author of seven books, five of which are about making RVs and solar work optimally.

Solar Success

Whether you’re building a new home or adding solar to an existing structure, this is the one book you can’t afford to be without.

eBook versions

Paperback version

Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Solar Success.  Just ask.
ISBN: 978-0-6487945-4-7

Solar Success

Whether you’re building a new home or adding solar to an existing structure, this is the one book you can’t afford to be without.

eBook versions

Paperback version

Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Solar Success.  Just ask.
ISBN: 978-0-6487945-4-7