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The future of road freight transport: megawatt charging

The right infrastructure must be in place to serve a variety of different charging environments across residential, commercial and fleet. By Patrik Ott

The electrification of road freight transport is one of the most heavily watched developments of recent years, as countries aim to hit their emissions targets that include the complete removal of emissions from vehicles, including trucks and buses. Although the automobile industry has been accelerating the development and commercialisation of electric vehicles (EV) to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution, climate-friendly mobility is not just limited to passenger cars. Most goods and produce on land are transported by trains and trucks: in the UK, 77% of domestic freight was moved by road in 2020. Therefore, it is essential to find solutions for these heavy vehicles when looking into decarbonising transport.

Charging heavy duty vehicles at more than 1 Megawatt is roughly four times greater than the capacity of what Tesla’s Model 3 can charge

Due to size and weight of these transport options, electrifying them comes with new challenges. Several factors need to be considered, such as the size of the battery required to power the vehicle for appropriately long distances, the time it takes to fully charge the batteries and also the scalability to fully supply a sector that relies on millions of trucks across continents.

A new solution for high-power charging is needed to make heavy-duty electric trucks a widespread reality. This is why the industry is working to realise the potential of megawatt charging systems (MCS), capable of charging large vehicles more quickly: in minutes rather than hours. In fact, charging heavy duty vehicles at more than 1 Megawatt is roughly four times greater than the capacity of what Tesla’s Model 3 can charge. Standardising the system, as well as charging availability and simplicity, will be crucial to key to achieving effective and rapid rollout of this technology.

Phihong Technology, a leading power supply manufacturer, and new subsidiary Zerova, catering exclusively to the EV charging market, are working with CharIN to help accelerate the adoption and rollout of a MCS. CharIN, a global association, represents the largest user group of EV standards, with more than 260 active member companies. It is bringing industry partners together to standardise megawatt charging solutions.

Fast charging will be essential for commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars

The technology is already available. Zerova, for example, is already providing solutions for fleet and heavy vehicles, from planning, design and production, to construction and set up. For example, its Depot Charger is suspended from the ground at the height of 5 meters to charge electric buses and is compatible with all standard charging technology specifications. It is fully modular and does not require human intervention for plugging and unplugging.

By 2035, it is expected that 100% of new cars sold in Europe will be electric, but with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) making up 18% of UK transport emissions, these vehicles need to follow suit if we are to meet ambitious emissions targets. By combining the expertise of industry partners to deliver standardised charging solutions that enable faster in roll out of MCS, we can herald a new era of electrification that benefits the planet and everyone living on it.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Patrik Ott is Vice President of Business Development at Zerova

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