The logic of mobile charging system logistics is better than fossil fuel infrastructure

You already know what are the biggest problems for most people when it comes to choosing between an internal combustion engine and a battery electric vehicle. The range of the electric vehicle is less, while the charging time is much longer than filling up the tank.

In addition, the charging networks are far behind the infrastructure of filling stations almost everywhere in the world. Somehow, popular wisdom was persuaded to believe that an electric vehicle is tied to charging networks, while an ICE car gives you all the freedom you want.

Now let me get that straight. Every time you want to go on a long journey, it’s like a Dakar expedition experience, isn’t it? You pack a lot of survival kit into your car, put several gas cans on the roof and drive into the unknown without expecting any freeway or roads on your way.

Or am I wrong, and you are driving along freeways or highways along with millions of other vehicles? If the fuel gauge shows that the tank is about to run out, look for a gas station so that gas cans are not needed. A gas station is always just around the corner, isn’t it?

Please tell me where this fuel comes from. How does the pump come about so you can fill up your tank in just a minute? That’s right, it’s being transported by a tank rig from god knows where. The gas station doesn’t just sit on top of an oil well and magically convert it into the fuel you need.

In fact, the oil is drilled somewhere you don’t care, then it’s shipped to refineries you don’t care about, and then it gets to that gas station in a way you don’t care about. All you care about is that the gas stations are nearby when you need them to fill up your tank.

On the contrary, charging an electric car is a pain and you are very aware of all the problems involved. Starting with the pollution from battery manufacturing that everyone these days rants about like a witch hunt of yesteryear.

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Then you are very concerned about how the electricity to charge these batteries is generated. Most of it comes from coal, and that’s worse than oil on every level, right? Somehow it doesn’t matter that the same electricity charges your phone or laptop, or goes into your lights and appliances at home.

Photo: Northvolt

How about transporting this electricity? The grid requires many wires made of copper. And copper is bad, just like cobalt, because for years there have been these media reports and social media memes and stories about massive environmental damage and even child labor slaves. Oh dear, that’s terrible! By the way, child labor in the chocolate or tobacco industry is just nonsense, isn’t it?

After all, the charging stations are sparse and all the media and Tesla groups go crazy on holidays when the queues grab the headlines. Of course, not a word about people queuing at the gas stations on holiday trips, because we are already used to it. It’s just normal, isn’t it?

Then they are not where you want them to be because they depend on the web. And the network is mostly designed for cities and populated areas, not for highway and street fast charging points. And all the time, experts or influencers are telling you that the grid can’t handle millions of electric vehicles, right?

In my opinion, this is how the average driver sees it today. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong. In the meantime, let’s talk about mobile charging solutions. And I don’t mean wireless charging.

Fast charging of a battery electric vehicle, whether it is a passenger car or a heavy truck, means using high power DC (direct current). Building DC infrastructure outside of populated areas like cities and towns is challenging, I’ll give you that. But it can be done.

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On the other hand, an AC infrastructure based on alternating current with low power is much more convenient and already available almost everywhere. But honestly, you don’t need it everywhere on highways and roads.

You only need one solution to provide DC charging at remote points without the need for a power grid. For example, you could transport some storage systems to these locations, just like tank farms transport fuel to gas stations in the middle of nowhere.

Saying that charging stations absolutely need a network is like saying that every gas station needs to be connected to a fuel node by a network of pipes. That would be so much more expensive and difficult to implement than hauling it on the tank rig, right?

Although it’s debatable why the wires for the power grid are a headache when all those oil and gas mega-pipes are just plain normal. But it is neither the place nor the time for it.

The most recent example that comes to mind is Scania and Northvolt’s partnership to demonstrate how mobile fast charging can enable electrification anywhere. Between February 13th and March 10th a Northvolt Voltpack Mobile System was installed at Åre Resort in northern Sweden.

Photo: Northvolt

It was a container with an energy storage system of 560 kWh, with the ability to quickly charge two vehicles simultaneously with a maximum power of 150 kW. The demonstrator program included two electric Scania trucks used to haul deliveries to hotels or grocery stores in the area. The resort was busier than usual due to the rush of visitors during the winter holiday week.

Just like the compact ChargePost box, the Voltpack Mobile System batteries charge in slow hours on the AC grid and are then ready to transmit power at high speed to any electric vehicle. The system can be scaled depending on how many vehicles need to be charged in a given period of time.

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But the same system was deployed by Northvolt a year ago at a construction site without a grid. It was used to charge the batteries of an electric excavator when the driver was on his lunch break. In this way, the machines could run a full shift.

If you’re thinking of a remote charging station for passing electric cars, then logistics come into play. A fuel station transports a certain quantity of fuel to a filling station. It can refuel a certain number of vehicles until the gas station’s tank needs to be refilled.

Similarly, the energy storage systems can be transported on-site using electric trucks, from a hub where the system’s batteries are charged from the grid. Whenever the batteries on site run out, the truck drives there with a freshly charged system and takes the empty ones back to be recharged later at the hub. How easy is that?

Electric trucks, which carry electric batteries to charge the batteries of other vehicles, are basically the same as diesel-powered tankers, which carry fuel to fuel the engines of other vehicles. With one big difference – according to Scania – electric trucks have up to 90% lower emissions than diesel trucks. And if I may add, electric motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines.

Photo: Scania

Of course I made it look very simple, but in real life such logistics are more complex. It is up to the experts to do the math and figure out the numbers. But I think I’ll rest. Now it is the turn of the electric mobility prosecutors to present their arguments. And I know there will be a lot.

Did you see what I did here? I probably made you think twice about the allegations regarding the fast charging network. Batteries are just so versatile that it’s almost ridiculous that we’re wasting so much money and time developing hydrogen for the transportation sector.