The Charging Station of the future?

If there is one question people should be more excited about, then it is this: How will e-mobility charging stations scale up to meet the demand in 10-15 years?

In comparison to a gas station, you could build a charging station anywhere. As it is not bound to location as much as gas stations (with their huge under-earth tanks and safety concerns).

Combine this with the need to wait some time to recharge your car, and you have a nice set-up for some great ideas. In German, we have a word for this wait time. It’s a mixture of charging (laden) and boring (Langeweile) - "Ladeweile.“ So, let’s look at how this Ladeweile could be improved by having a quick look at the plans of Shell, Starbucks and tesla!

Chill and charge

Currently, you might see more and more charging posts pop up. For example, at supermarkets, lampposts, or elsewhere. It is super apparent that they are always in very low numbers. Two seems to be the magical number here, and I bet there are some calculations behind it - maybe the price point? Or how the costs are supported by the state. However, I wonder in 2 years if you will be able to get a free spot on one of the two magical supermarket chargers or are they prepared to scale up quickly?

Many supermarkets are also considering co-operations with ENBW (the de facto leader in charging networks in Germany) or Shell.

Shell, as one of the few traditional gas station networks, is supplying many of their stations with (fast) chargers now.

Shell has a very ambitious goal of transforming all their station shops into places to spend your Ladeweile. This means they will offer a wider variety of drinks, food, and a place to rest. More like a Starbucks than a traditional gas-station.

Talking about Starbucks, in the US the coffee giant is also looking to conveniently placing some charging possibilities near their cafes. So while waiting for your car to recharge you can also enjoy a matcha Frappuccino with your name miswritten on it!

Let’s get more futuristic

Our favorite twitter inventor and home office "lover”, Elon Musk, once tweeted he would love to have a super charger in the style of an 80s dinner complete with servers on roller skates. I like this idea of turning charging into an experience, especially with tired Kids; these forced breaks can become an adventure of fun rather than an adventure of misery for the parents. Check out these renders a Ed Howard an architectural artist did base on the building plans of the diner here.

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But still, this is not THE future. To find out what the future of charging could look like, ELECTRIC AUTONOMY CANADA held a contest among architects to develop bigger charging stations.

The results, which can be seen here are super interesting. Not only that they are all very nicely designed with a lot of natural elements (almost like a Norwegian design dream), but they explore great Ideas: Community places, yes please! A public library - brilliant! A playground for the young ones, I love it.

It’s not always sunshine and charging

But with charging stations, we should also shortly talk about charging behavior and here traditional car companies actually decided on a strange plan. To ease "classic ” car owners over into the new and foreign world of charging their cars they decided to give away YEARS of free charging. The results are people "re-charging ” their cars as they would refuel. “Oh honey we are down 10% quick lets re-charge!” It might also lead to more people not getting into home charging solutions like wall-boxes and therefore cluttering up the big charging stations for people who actually need them and unnecessarily wasting energy!

And one more thing that is clear: charging your car is not exactly user friendly right now. The market is cluttered with different companies, with different prices and different cards.

A better UX is urgently needed if you ever want to get non-techie people on board.

What’s on the horizon for user-friendly charging?

VW also realized this and is now proposing a new DIN norm for charging (and yes DIN is what Germany puts as standards on everything from paper to bananas). Their Idea? Simple Plug & Charge: Instead of driving to a charger and fiddling around with one of 20 apps or five charging cards, you plug in the cable, and the charging starts. This is how it works for tesla anyway, but bringing this approach to all other e-car types is a great and very user-friendly idea. Hopefully, this will be a fruitful approach by VW and not take multiple years to implement.

In the end I am very excited to see charging networks scale-up and bigger "charging stations” become a reality. It is not often that completely new infrastructure is added to the world at a scale like this.

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Alex

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Alex

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Industry

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