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Aussie firm at heart of EV R&D in Europe
Tritium working closely with global car-makers to iron out EV recharging issues
7 May 2019
By TUNG NGUYEN
BRISBANE-BASED EV charging specialist Tritium has been working hand-in-hand with European car manufacturers to develop a new communications protocol that will allow owners to recharge their electric vehicles from any station.
Tritium chief technology officer and co-founder James Kennedy told GoAuto that the new standard will alleviate the problem of owners needing to sign up to multiple recharging companies such as Chargefox and Chargepoint.
“There’s an upcoming standard that we’re heavily involved with – it will first appear in Europe, but I think the Americans are probably not too far behind, colloquially known as ‘plug and charge’ – essentially it’s exactly as you’d expect,” he said.
“You plug your car in and it starts to charge. It provides the ability to have roaming, similar to accessing your bank account from other ATMs – you might have to pay a small fee for the privilege, but you still get your money.
“This will provide the same sort of thing for charging infrastructures. You don’t have to be signed up with 20 different charging networks, so if you go on holiday, you plug your car in to charge, it’s billed back to your account.
“No authentication or swipe cards, no app or anything like that, it has a secure cryptographic certificate in the vehicle, it’s all handled for you, you literally plug it in and it starts charging.
“So this upcoming standard will make it more convenient and easier for people to use – it’s a lot of work behind the scenes, but it’s what’s necessary for EV mass-market adoption.”
To aid in developing the new standard that requires close integration with EV manufacturers, Tritium officially opened the doors to a new test facility in Amsterdam last week – after getting underway in February – and is currently working with several car-makers, as well as truck and bus manufacturers.
“The standards for communications between the vehicles and chargers at the moment are quite complicated, it’s possible to have a standard compliance between the vehicle and charger, but still has the occasional wrinkle when talking to each other,” Mr Kennedy said.
“At the moment, that’s solved by testing with every single vehicle. That is why we’ve set up that facility in Amsterdam, not just for interoperability tests and new firmware releases, but also for new cars.
“For a lot of auto OEMs, this is their first mainstream EV and they’re still learning as they go, too.
“Having that facility where they can bring some camouflaged-up, pre-production vehicles to our private facility and run some testing with our engineers is quite a valuable resource.”
Mr Kennedy would not be drawn on specifying the car manufacturers that have already been working at the Amsterdam centre, but given the facility’s close proximity to Germany, the companies involved could include BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi – all of which are gearing up to launch emissions-free models in the next 12-18 months.
GoAuto can also confirm that Nissan and Opel EVs are among those to have been tested at the lab.
The facility is designed to shorten development times and bring new electric vehicles quicker to market.
“The centre is uniquely placed in the heart of European automotive innovation to ensure we can work with the industry to accelerate the development of new EVs and the next wave of charging infrastructure needed to power them,” Mr Kennedy said.
Mr Kennedy said that by working with Tritium’s engineers, car manufacturers were able to “solve issues and develop and test all aspects of battery and charger interoperability, including communications and other technical advances inherent in the next wave of EVs”.
“This allows us to test advances in charging technology, such as vehicle-to-charger communications, vehicle-to-grid or bi-directional charging, support services and more,” he said.
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