The fallacy of the 8 minute charge

ABB is claiming that it’s top of the line EV charger can juice 200kms in 8 minutes. Theoretically 100kms takes 4 minutes. It’s fast. However a Tesla Model S 100D has a theoretical full charge range of c. 540km. So to charge from empty using the top of the line ABB charger systems will still take 22 minutes, not 8. If an EV, fully loaded with fat people, luggage and the aircon set to maximum, is stuck in heavy city traffic (think of watching numerous video feeds on your iPhone), it’s theoretical range could drop like a stone. So if the same car only manages a real world 200km off a charge because of hideous traffic conditions the charge time is still 22 minutes for that 200km, not 8 minutes.

Full marks to ABB’s marketing department. But what it fails to take into account is the faster a battery is charged the quicker it’s quality deteriorates, meaning replacements would be required earlier and the global CO2 footprint goes up and poor Congolese children are sent to mine more cobalt.

Note the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute was commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency to investigate lithium-ion batteries climate impact from a life cycle perspective.

The report showed that battery manufacturing leads to high emissions. For every kilowatt hour of storage capacity in the battery generated emissions of 150 to 200 kilos of carbon dioxide already in the factory. Regular EV batteries with 25–30 kWh of capacity will result in 5 metric tonnes CO2, which is equivalent to 50,000 km driving in a regular, fuel-efficient diesel vehicle.

If we use those Swedish metrics on the Tesla Type S 100D battery pack of 100kWh, the car has done 167,000km worth of CO2 before its left the factory. So that would mean 20 metric tons of CO2 per car without taking into account any charging from the grid which is largely fossil fuel derived in most countries.

A 2019 model year BMW 530d diesel emits 138g of C02/km. So it can travel 145,000km just to match a car with a 100kWh battery pack before it leaves the dealership floor.

Do we really want 50% sales in EVs if the metrics are this bad? Don’t forget car emissions continue to drop. Diesel emission standards today are 97% lower than Euro 1 levels set in 1992.

If current fast chargers cost $60,000 a pop, one imagines the super chargers from ABB will be in the vicinity of $80,000+. Multiply by the number of stations and chargers we’re well above $15bn in Australia if we match Norway’s statistics scaled to our market.

That’s the problem with green mathematics. They only look at selective statistics, not the whole. 99.8% of Australians seem to get the maths based on the fact EVs make up only 0.2% of total new car sales.