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The trick will be keeping all the innards cool
Some time, years in the future, our transportation mindsets may change — we may forget all about what we now regard as the convenient corner gasoline station, and the reliably quick fill-up while rushing to an appointment or dropping off the kids. Instead, most of us will have new muscle memory and simply plug in our electric vehicle as soon as we get home, so it’s all charged up in the morning. If we happen to occasionally need added juice — say, for the random time we are on a long holiday — charging stations will be concentrated at intervals on highways. Otherwise, we are now watching the twilight of the gas station.
Or so assert lots of first-movers who over the last six months have written to tell me how wrong, wrong, wrong I am to argue that we will need nearly ubiquitous fast-charging stations before mainstream American motorists will relax and look seriously at buying an EV. They say they charge up at home, have left bad memories of smelly gas stations behind them, and that so will everyone else.
Lest I be accused of secretly hording buggy whips, I agree that behavior changes, and that it very well might in how we plan — or don’t — our future routine travel. But, to the degree it happens, multiple legacy automakers like Volkswagen and GM have decided that it won’t be before the middle of the decade, when sticker prices are set to drop, and they hope droves of mainstream buyers start to snap up their new EV offerings. So some of the automakers have put out requests to the research community to develop batteries that can be charged up in no more than 30 minutes.
Quincy Lee, CEO of a Seattle-based startup called Electric Era, comes from the ubiquitous-fast-charge-is-a-prerequisite school of EV futurism. Lee says his company has developed a cooling mechanism that handles the biggest problem in EV fast charging — overheating of the battery. When electrons are shoved into a battery at great speed, they cause extreme stress on the materials inside. At this stage of battery technology, if you fast charge your EV as a routine, you are more…