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The Evolution of Battery Electric Vehicles and their Supply Equipment

John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

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  • Feb 19, 2018


As electric vehicles continue to displace vehicles based on internal combustion engines, there are many questions about how rapidly this will occur. Also, what will the effects of this technological change be? After all, vehicles are a key component of our current economy, and much of its output is spent in producing vehicles and their supporting infrastructure, including roadways, fuel, parking places, replacement parts and other consumables. However there are major down-sides to this vehicular dependence, including traffic deaths, lost time in commuting, and pollution. There are hopeful signs that the transition to electric vehicles will mitigate many of these negative issues.

The following two subsections provide some brief clarifications regarding electric vehicle naming conventions and the underlying technologies.


Electric vehicles, and all of their variants and cohorts are rather complex, so we will define some naming conventions:

Internal Combustion Vehicle (IC Vehicle): A vehicle powered solely by an internal combustion engine.

Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV): Vehicle powered solely by a rechargeable battery (for instance a Nissan LEAF or any model Tesla).

Hybrid: Vehicle powered by a mixture of batteries and an IC engine (example, normal Prius, normal Ford C-MAX).

Plug-in Hybrid: A hybrid capable of having its battery charged from an electric outlet or charger, and then capable of operating a short distance at limited speeds on battery-power only (Example Prius Prime or C-MAX Energi).

Range-Extended Electric Vehicle (Range-Extended EV): A BEV with an on-board IC-powered charger that can be started when the batteries are low. (Example, BMW i3 with the range extender option or Chevrolet Volt).

EV Supply Equipment (EVSE, a.k.a. charger or EV charger): A specialized electrical device that is used to charge BEVs and plug-in hybrids. An EV charger may or may not have intelligent electronics used to provide a human interface, manage charge transactions, and provide other functions. Section 2.3 has more information on EVSE.

1.2.Precursor Technologies

Several past developments set the stage for the emergence of BEVs. These included:

Lithium-Ion  (Li-Ion) Batteries: Although development of specialized batteries using Lithium chemistries date back to the early 1970's it took a series of advances before the modern Lithium Ion battery was developed in 1985 by Akira Yoshino, of Asahi Kasei Corp. in Japan. Production of small Li-Ion batteries started in the early 1990s. [1] Continued development of Lithium chemistry has continued at a steady pace ever since, and from all appearances will continue for at least the next two decades. See the paragraph on "Toyota and Honda" in section 3.

Regenerative Variable Frequency Drives (Regen VFDs): Although the basic design of the induction motors in EV-drives date back to the original Tesla (Nikola that is, in 1892), the power electronics that control these motors have been rapidly evolving over the last few decades. Until recently the primary application of these drives has been in industrial processes like centrifugal fans, pumps, blowers, and conveyor applications. In the early 2000s these begin to be used in early BEV and hybrid applications. The breakthrough in sophistication was Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive as used in the Prius and other hybrids. Currently the regen VFDs are used in most, if not all EVs and hybrids. They are extremely efficient, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.[2]

Digital control, user-interface and communication systems: These have been in all vehicles to some extent (mainly engine control units) since the 1990s. All modern vehicles use multiple control and user-interface units. The real breakthrough for BEVs was when Tesla made the Model S largely field-programmable via secure digital communication. This allowed Tesla to repair a large percentage of early development issues without a dealer visit. Early Model S BEVs have become increasingly reliable by most known issues being repaired by over-the-air patches (like with computer operating systems).

2.Current EV Growth Estimates and Market

How rapidly will BEVs displace IC vehicles? There are some recent indicators that the right vehicles will begin to rapidly gain market share (like the 455,000 reservations for the Tesla Model 3). One good thing about our free-enterprise system is that, if there is a "right-product" in any market and the technology will support it, someone will produce it.


Current best estimates for the future of EVs' market share are shown in the chart below.[3]

2.2.Current BEV Sales

According to the source referenced below, about 200,000 EVs and plug-in hybrids were sold last year. The following were all the BEVs except those that just sold a few vehicles, and includes U.S. Sales only. Each price is the base-price.[4]

Ford: Focus Electric, $29,120, 115 mile range, 2017 sales: 1,817

Chevrolet: Bolt, $37,495, 238 mile range, 2017 sales: 23,297

Chevrolet Volt*, $34,095, 53 mile range*, 2017 sales: 20,349

FCA: Fiat 500e, $32,995, 84 mile range, 2017 sales: 5,380

Tesla: Model S, $74,500, 259 – 335 mile range, 2017 sales: 27,060

Tesla: Model X, $79,500, 238 – 295 mile range, 2017 sales: 21,315

Tesla: Model 3, $35,000, 220 – 310 mile range, 2425 sales: 1,772

Nissan: LEAF, $29,990, 151 mile range, 2017 sales: 11,230

BMW: i3*, $44,450, 114 mile range*, 2017 sales: 6,276

VW: e-Golf, $30,495, 125 Mile range, 2017 sales: 3,534

Smart: FORTWO Electric Drive: $23,900, 53 mile range, 2017 sales: 544

Hyundai: Ioniq Electric: $29,500, 124 mile range, 2017 sales: 432

*Range extended EV, range is without extension via internal combustion engine

2.3.EV Supply Equipment

Below is a table showing current charger technologies.

Technology Name

Typical Supply Voltage

Peak Power

Typical Range per Hour Charge-time

J17723 Level 1

120 Vac

2 kW

4.5 miles

J17723 Level 2

240 Vac

4 kW to 20 kW

12 to 70 miles

J17723 Level 3 DC Fast-Charge

200 to 600 Vdc

50 kW to 100 kW

150 to 250 miles

Tesla Supercharger


120 kW

300 miles

Combined Charging System

AC or DC

200 kW (DC), 350 kW (DC Future)

Greater than
300 miles


Up to 500 Vdc

62.5 kW

100 to 150 Miles

3.Announced Future EV Plans

The following represent announced future plans for BEV from major manufacturers.

Ford recently announced plans to boost investment in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022. They intend to add 40 new electric and hybrid models.

General Motors made similar announcements in late 2017, committing to launch more than 20 BEV globally by 2023.[5]

VW has a proposal called "Roadmap E" that plans by 2030 for about one in four new vehicles produced by the group to be a BEV. This could mean up to three-million BEVs a year world-wide. In order to achieve this plan, the automaker will be investing more than $24 billion in developing new technology and two new platforms for their electric vehicles.

In the shorter term, by 2025, VW plans to introduce 80 new electric models, which includes 50 BEVs and 30 plug-in hybrids. For the launch of Europe’s first series production of electric vehicles on the MEB platform, VW’s Zwickau site will be remodeled into a pure e-mobility plant. The new electric VW models will be called "I.D.", and the first is going to enter production in November 2019 in Zwickau, with deliveries ramping up in 2020. The VW I.D. will have a 373 mile range and will be a five-door, five-seat hatchback (picture below).[6]

The U.S. will not (initially) get the I.D. but rather the I.D. Crozz. "Speaking at the Chicago auto show, VW’s head of design, Klaus Bischoff, indicated that the I.D. Crozz will first come to market in 2020 as a traditional SUV, followed later by a fastback similar to the concept car (Picture below).[7]

Nissan will offer four BEVs and Infiniti will have two over the next five years, a top Nissan Motor Co. powertrain executive says. Those six battery-powered vehicles are included in the 12 EVs that are planned for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi through 2022.[8]

BMW R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich has confirmed the company is working on twelve BEVs to be launched between 2019 and 2024.[9]

Tesla produces only BEVs, and has informally announced plans to produce the model Y (small SUV, around 2020). A "pickup" tentatively named Model Z, the heavy truck (see section 3.3), and the second generation Roadster (currently in late 2020). The second generation Model S is scheduled for release in late 2019.

Mercedes debuted a Sports Utility BEV at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, and it was billed as a close-to-production concept with a range of 300 miles. Now, journalists are finally catching glimpses of this model being tested on public roads. When it heads to production, the model could be called the EQ C, which would help give buyers an idea of the model hierarchy as it correlates to the already established Mercedes-Benz naming scheme. It will be the first model released under the Mercedes EQ brand for battery electric vehicles. Eventually, this brand will cover all vehicle segments spanning from compacts to the very top of the luxury vehicle spectrum. An EQ A hatchback could be next after the crossover.[10]

Hyundai disclosed that it’s working on a 310-mile BEV, due after 2021, and it’s developing its first dedicated architecture for EVs, implying that it could be working on a whole set of BEV products. Hyundai previously had revealed a few other details about this BEV, including that it would have a larger footprint than the Ioniq. At present, Hyundai’s sole BEV, the Ioniq Electric, is only available in California.[11]

Toyota and Honda each have created many concept BEVs, but the author could find no solid information on vehicles that are actually headed for production and possible U.S. delivery. It should be noted that each has produced several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with limited deliveries in California, but both have indicated that they will ultimately also produce BEVs. Toyota has strongly indicated that they will begin using solid-state batteries in the BEVs in the early 2020s.[12] Solid state batteries are probably the next major advance in batteries. These will initially use lithium chemistry, but ultimately other chemistries may be less expensive. See the referenced article for more information.[13]

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) do not appear to have any plans for BEVs in the near future (other than the current Fiat 500e). They are exploring a partnership with Hyundai that may involve hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and this could evolve to BEVs. FCA is also working on their next strategic plan (out to 2022), so when details leak out from this, there could be more clarity regarding future BEVs.

3.1.Evolution of Heavy Sports Utilities and Pickups

Today one would probably say that Tesla is in the lead when comes to light vehicles ("light vehicles" include cars, SUVs and small-to-medium trucks). They also plan to take the lead in large trucks (see section 3.3). However, apparently they are delaying the middle-ground (large SUVs and Pickups) and have not announced any firm delivery date. Pickups and large SUVs are a highly profitable segment. I would guess that (mainly) GM and Ford will quickly occupy this ground if BEV sales continue to accelerate and/or the cost of gasoline rapidly increases, as this class of vehicle provides a large percentage of their profits today. The quickest way to lower cost-of-ownership will be new BEV designs for these classes, especially as the price of batteries continues to decrease.

3.2.As EVSE Leaves Home

Currently most electric vehicles perform some to most charging at home. However, this has limits without a major investment in home infrastructure. Currently the highest power appliances in the home use 240 Vac (split-phase), 40 amp service. This will support a 10 kW Level 2 charger. Per the table in section 2.3, this will provide about 35 miles per hour of charging time. The current generation of BEVs have, at most, around 300 miles of range. This will require about 8-hours of charge-time on a residential-maximum charger if nearly depleted.

PG&E (and one assumes other major California utilities) currently provide a low EV charging electric rate, under their PG&E ELEC_SCHEDS_EV. However this rate is for off-peak hours, which are currently limited to 9:00PM until 7:00 AM on weekdays (10-hours). Thus BEV owners are OK for now, but what happens if:

  • The next generation of BEVs have much larger batteries.
  • Pickup trucks and/or large SUVs are developed (section 3.1) and sell like crazy (ditto).
  • The BEV in question needs to leave home before 5:00AM to miss the peak commute (common in the SF Bay Area).

Overlapping charging into the partial-peak will not cause a huge extra expense, but it points out the limitations of home-based charging if the above bullets come to pass.

3.3.Big Stuff

The following firms are producing or have announced electric heavy trucks. For additional details, see the paper linked in the last section of this paper:

  • Short-haul (urban) heavy eTrucks have been deployed (in Europe) by Daimler. They recently announced that they would be introducing smaller electric trucks made by Mitsubishi in the U.S., and eventually, introducing heavy trucks.[14]
  • Morgan-Olsen has delivered medium-duty box trucks with Motiv Power Systems all-electric drive trains.
  • In Sep 2017 Cummins released a prototype 18,000-pound tractor cab, built by Roush, with a 140kWh battery.
  • Tesla Inc. unveiled an electric class-8 semi-truck on November 17th. There will be two version: one with a 500-mile range and one with a 300-mile range. Deliveries are expected in in 2019.

4.Primary Factors in Future BEV Sales

In section 2.1 there is a chart that plots the projected BEV market share from three highly respected sources. One (the U.S. DOE) predicts very slow growth, and the other two (Bloomberg and Energy Innovation) predict rapidly accelerating BEV market share. Predicting the future, particularly in a time with many volatile conditions, is chancy, even if you have a robust simulation.

As one looks at the current landscape and technology for BEVs, there are two sets of conditions that seem to set the stage for rapid expansion of their market share. These are described in the following subsections.

4.1.Intrinsic Design

BEVs will expand rapidly because their design is intrinsically better than IC vehicles. Consider the following:

  • EVs have an energy efficiency of 90% to 95%. IC vehicles have an energy efficiency of 17% to 21%.
  • EVs have a fuel cost that is typically 10% of IC vehicles.
  • EVs have approximately 1% of the moving parts as compared to IC vehicles, and this will result in much better reliability.
  • EVs use regenerative breaking to recoup most of the kinetic energy dissipated when bringing a moving vehicle to a stop verses 100% of this energy being wasted by friction-only braking used by IC vehicles. Hybrid vehicles also use regenerative breaking, but typically less than BEVs.
  • The component with the highest cost in a BEV is the battery. The cost of these are currently about $273 per kWh. These are projected to decrease to $73 per kWh by 2030 per Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

4.2.Political Expediency

The author feels that the current political landscape predicts how rapidly BEVs will penetrate the overall vehicle market. I believe the scenario described below will start to play out within the next few years.

First consider the following, which are mostly facts, with two opinions (last two bullets) that are widely held among neutral political media:

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was passed in December will cause a major increase in the federal deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the 10-year increase in deficits will be $1.7 trillion. Also the interest rates required to service this debt are increasing.
  • WTI crude oil prices increased from approximately $30 / barrel to approximately $50 per barrel in the past year and a half. The Energy Information Administration predicts that it will reach $57 to $58 per barrel in 2018 and hold this price through 2019.
  • The U.S. price of gasoline increased from an average of $2.15 per gallon in 2016 to $2.40 per gallon in 2017, and is projected to average around $2.60 per gallon in 2018 (EIA).
  • Many coastal areas are already experiencing major flooding due to sea-level rise and increasingly strong storms. 95% of credible climate scientists agree that these are side-effects of climate change and they will worsen over the next few decades. Recent research shows that melting of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets is accelerating and will cause over 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2100.[15] Climate scientists also say that there is a vast and growing body of evidence that indicates climate change is increasing the rate and severity of hurricanes.[16]
  • In the 2018 federal elections, even though it is still very early, predictions are that the Democrats have a fair chance of gaining a House majority, and there is a slight chance that they will gain the Senate majority.
  • Even though many Republican U.S. senators and representatives are giving lip-service to reducing entitlements (like Social Security and Medicare), they had best not say this too loudly, as a large majority of U.S. voters strongly support these programs.

When I look at the above items, I see a future scenario. Although I recognize this is one of hundreds of specific scenarios, most of them end up in the same place.

  • After the 2018 elections the U.S. Congress is much more balanced between Democrats and Republicans than it is now.
  • One or more major storms will flood highly developed coastal areas (most likely the Atlantic Coast and/or the Gulf Coast) over the next two or three years. Relief expenses will increase the deficit.
  • In 2020 the Democrats make additional gains.
  • As deficits balloon, there will be proposals to offset them with (among other things) the revenue from either a carbon tax, carbon cap-and-trade, or (most likely) a combination of both. Any attempt to decrease Social Security or Medicare will be blocked.
  • Over a two year period with the added expense of the carbon tax (or carbon cap-and-trade) the price of gasoline will increase to over $4 per gallon. At the same time, increasing penetration of solar-power, wind-power and storage into the national grid, and their decreasing price will stabilize the price of electricity.
  • Suddenly the decision of whether to buy an IC-powered vehicle or a BEV is a no-brainer, making the Bloomberg and Energy Innovation forecasts close to the eventual end-point.

5.Impacts of BEVs on Facility and Utility Grids

Currently about 45% of BEVs in the U.S. are in California, so the first effects will be seen here. By the end of 2018, only about 1-1/2% to 2% of all vehicles in California will be BEVs. By 2020 additional models of BEVs will come to market, and Elon Musk stated that his current two auto factories (Fremont, CA and The Gigafactory in Reno, NV) could scale to a million vehicles per year. Even a sizable fraction of that (say 700,000 vehicles per year) by Tesla would add about a percent per year to the share of BEVs in California's overall light vehicle fleet (at 45% this is a bit over 300,000 vehicles per year sold in California), and then add in contributions by other manufacturers.

If the political scenario endpoint suggested in the prior subsection becomes reality, the price of gasoline should start increasing rapidly by 2020, and reach $4 per gallon around 2022. The Bloomberg and Energy Innovation curves in the chart in section 2.1 cross 5% U.S. market share (by BEVs) at around 2022, and I believe that is when we will see a significant percentage of the largest California office facilities, high density residential developments and vehicle host facilities start to experience distribution overloads and peak demand power cost increases (see paper linked below for details on these facilities).

Utility distribution systems could see similar disruptions. Similar businesses and the employees that work there tend to cluster. Consider the area that I live in (the Livermore Valley in Northern California). Most of the residents are high-tech or scientific workers, and most of the large facilities are devoted to science (like LLNL, Sandia, etc.) or are in office-like high tech facilities (Oracle is a major employer). The residents also buy many BEVs. Regarding the businesses, since they are similar, employees arriving at work and needing to charge their BEVs, will result in dramatically increased daytime loads in the whole valley if these loads are not managed or otherwise mitigated.

Just east of the Livermore Valley is Tracy, California. Tracy and other nearby cities have a huge number of logistic (distribution) centers, and these will have different, although no less dramatic, load changes. The paper linked above has a section (3.1.4) on these facilities, their vehicles and EVSE.


[2] Wikipedia, Variable-frequency drive,

[3] Jeffrey Rissman, Head of Modeling & Energy Policy Expert at Energy Innovation and leads modeling efforts for Energy Policy Solutions, Forbes, "The Future of Electric Vehicles in The U.S…",

[4] Inside EVs, " Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard",

[5] Charles Griffith, The Detroit News, "Letter: Mich. should drive electric car future," Feb 1, 2018,

[6] Mark Kane, Inside EVs, "Volkswagen I.D. Launch Set For November 2019 – New Details", 2/9/2018,

[7] Joe Lorio, Car and Driver, "Volkwagen’s I.D. Crozz: The One We’ve Seen Will Not Be the First to Arrive", 2/9/2018,

[8] Hans Greimel, Automotive News, "Six EVs headed to Nissan, Infiniti" 2/4/2018,

[9] Horatiu Boeriu, BMW Blog, "Proposed i9 eco-luxury car replaced by roomier i7", 1/25/2018,

[10] Kelly Pleskot, Motor Trend, "Our latest glimpse into Mercedes’ new EQ brand", 2/8/2018,

[11] Bengt Halvorson, Car and Driver, " Hyundai Maps Out a Future of Multiple Long-Range EVs… ",

[12] Bertel Schmitt, Forbes, "Ultrafast-Charging Solid-State EV Batteries Around The Corner, Toyota Confirms", July 25, 2017,

[13] Steve Hanley, Clean Technica, "Bill Joy Has 65 Million Reasons Why Solid State Batteries Are The Next Big Thing", Feb 9 2018,

[15] R. S. Nerem, B. D. Beckley, J. T. Fasullo, B. D. Hamlington, D. Masters, and G. T. Mitchum, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the U.S., "Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era", Jan 9, 2018,

[16] Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "5 ways climate change may be making hurricanes worse", Sep 8, 2017,


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