Because gas stations aren’t all they appear to be

Flying drone with camera

Christoph Erni analyzes the reasons why everyone is obsessed with ultra-fast charging, even when it’s not absolutely necessary. (Except on long-distance highways, where the need for speed is a little more justified).

Quoting, or perhaps paraphrasing, the Austrian writer Karl Kraus: simply not having new ideas is not enough. One must also be incapable of realizing them. Even though Kraus has been dead nearly a hundred years, his aphorism still holds true when it comes to electric car charging.

Since the internal combustion engine was born, getting fuel has always been a laborious and rather unpleasant process. Even today, you have to go to an exposed and inhospitable place to spend several minutes with a smelly and slightly greasy pump nozzle in your hand, while being hit by a horizontal rain due to the meager protection afforded by the excessively high roof of the gas station . If you’re lucky, the auto shut off will work, keeping fuel from overflowing and staining your nice new pants. If not, you’ll find out why diesel is the worst smell in the world.

No wonder, then, if we want this experience to end as soon as possible. And that’s most likely why most non-electric drivers expect charging to happen quickly.

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If there’s one thing people aren’t good at, it’s transitioning. Transition means change and change comes with risks. So maybe it’s better to keep things as they are, to stick with ingrained old behaviors rather than to adopt new perspectives. Ironically though, we never stop admiring the brave explorers, discoverers and inventors and inspirational stories like ‘Who moved my cheese?’. The people who pursue change are the heroes of our minds. But the rest of us go about our days like trained dogs.

Therefore, allow me to explain to all electricity newbies what recharging a car actually entails: five seconds to plug it in, then carry on with the day’s commitments, finally another five seconds to unplug it and go again. The normal 22 or 11 kW charging stations they are more than enough to cover 95% of charging needs. Ultimately, we need to be able to connect anytime and anywhere we decide to park for an extended period. The message to employers, municipalities, shopping centres, amusement parks, multi-storey and residential developments is simple: it is the time to install smart charging stations, able to keep pace with development and be controlled remotely by energy suppliers. After all, variable tariffs will soon be offered as a welcome financial incentive to all those who can reserve a few megawatt hours of battery capacity for more electric cars, thus making the most of excess electricity.

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This column is edited by Christoph Erni, founder and CEO of Juice Technology AG, a Swiss manufacturer of charging stations and solutions. He’s always had a practical bent, so much so that he dropped out of school shortly before his baccalaureate to take a business administration course at university, then transitioning into IT soon after. But that wasn’t enough for Christoph Erni: he wanted more! About 20 years ago he founded his own management consultancy, Erni Associates AG.

In 2014, noticing the lack of suitable charging solutions, he decided to enter the manufacturing sector and founded Juice Technology AG. In its first year of business, the company secured the pole position in this segment with the 22 kW Juice Booster 1 portable charging station, and it has remained there ever since.

Christopher Ernifounder and CEO of Juice Technology

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