ABB has developed the world's fastest electric vehicle charger to date, capable of delivering 100 km of range in less than three minutes. AZoCleantech talks to Frank Mühlon, President of E-Mobility at ABB, about the importance of the charger and the future of electric vehicle charging technology.
Please can you tell us about your position at ABB?
I am the President of ABB’s E-mobility division. This rapidly evolving sector is one of ABB Electrification’s highest growth areas and one which I am proud to lead. Within my role, I have the pleasure of managing a global team that is developing innovations that directly impact the ability of countries around the world to meet their sustainability objectives. There is nothing more rewarding. In addition, the role was a natural fit for me given my extensive experience leading global teams within the automotive industry and within electrification – e-mobility brings together both worlds and I am delighted to be able to leverage my knowledge to drive further growth for this segment.
What major developments have you helped deliver within your division at ABB?
ABB is a world leader in electric vehicle infrastructure, offering the full range of charging and electrification solutions for electric cars, electric and hybrid buses, vans, trucks, ships, and railways. ABB entered the e-mobility market back in 2010, and today has sold more than 460,000 electric vehicle chargers across more than 88 markets; over 21,000 DC fast chargers and 440,000 AC chargers, including those sold through Chargedot.
During this time, ABB has been at the forefront of driving broader EV adoption worldwide. Today, we announce the launch of the world’s fastest EV charger. But, there have been lots of other milestones en route, starting with the acquisition of the Epyon DC fast charging company in 2011, which became the nucleus for all future development.
In 2013, ABB was the first company to develop networks of 50 kW chargers, spanning complete nations. This was paired with a unique cloud-based service for remote monitoring and servicing of chargers, which was a real game-changer for connectivity and which is now part of the ABB Ability™ ecosystem.
More recently, in 2018, we were the first to market with our liquid-cooled full 350 kW capable charging technology, which delivers higher power and charging speeds. This was followed at the start of 2020 with the acquisition of Chinese EV charging provider Chargedot, which gives us a stronger entry into the largest e-mobility market in the world and broadens our portfolio of DC and AC fast charging.
In 2020, ABB Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology set a global benchmark for bi-directional charging with our new 11 kW station. As part of a contract with France’s DREEV, which specializes in intelligent charging for EVs, ABB supplied its new 11 kW bi-directional charging technology, specially designed for V2G. This innovative solution, when integrated with DREEV software technology, will enable EV drivers to export surplus power back to the grid. Bi-directional chargers also help smooth the flow of uneven generation of electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind.
ABB is launching the world’s fastest electric car charger. What sets this charger apart from other chargers on the market today?
The Terra 360 is the fastest charger on the market, capable of delivering 100 km of range in less than three minutes. It is the only charger designed explicitly to charge up to four vehicles at once, making it ideal for refueling stations, urban charging stations, retail parking, and fleet applications.
A modular charger, Terra 360 can simultaneously charge up to four vehicles with dynamic power distribution. This means that drivers will not have to wait if somebody else is already charging ahead of them. They simply pull up to another plug. The new charger has a maximum output of 360 kW meeting the needs of a variety of EV users, whether they need a fast charge or to top their battery up while grocery shopping.
Available in Europe from the end of 2021, and in the USA, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific regions in 2022, Terra 360 is designed with the daily needs and expectations of EV drivers in mind. Leveraging the rich field experience gained by ABB E-mobility’s large installed base, the Terra 360 delivers speed and convenience along with comfort, ease-of-use, and a sense of familiarity.
Image Credit: ABB
How have you been able to develop such an innovative product? What key technology has enabled the charger to be brought to market?
High power density electronics: Technology has been a key enabler for this development. In the field of new high-density power electronics, ABB introduced the Terra 180 kW last year, a revolutionary charger with a ground-breaking power density (+250 percent compared to the state-of-the-art charger, Terra 54, in the same form factor). This product was possible thanks to the innovative ultra-compact power electronic that is also used in Terra 360. For this reason, the Terra 360 is compact yet powerful.
User-centric design: While many early adopters of electric vehicles know how to use a public charger, we know that some users may be confused when they see a high-power charger for the first time. For this reason, we have developed several solutions to make the user experience simpler and more intuitive. For example, unique LED lights guide the driver during the entire charging experience.
The charger also has an integrated system to manage the charging cables that keeps the cables off the ground and ready to use, helping the user to plug in the EV. This is a great solution because it allows users to connect all brands of EV, independently from the position of the charging port (that varies by model and brand). It is particularly useful for wheelchair users that are supported during the charging process.
What significance will this electric car charger have on the industry?
With governments worldwide writing public policy that favors electric vehicles and charging networks to combat climate change, the demand for EV charging infrastructure, especially charging stations that are fast, convenient, and easy to operate is higher than ever. The Terra 360, with charging options that fit a variety of needs, with its smaller footprint that makes it easier to install, is the key to fulfilling that demand and accelerating e-mobility adoption globally.
Speed to charge (or lack of it) is often a barrier to consumer adoption. The fact that drivers will now be able to charge their cars so quickly at service stations should drive broader adoption as it becomes easier to travel for longer ranges and charge quickly and efficiently.
The rapid speed, together with the ease of installation, will play a key role in EV charging adoption. In the past, the installation of high-power charging systems took days or weeks and required significant investment. Now the Terra 360 can be installed and set up in less than a day, with a significantly lower investment. When extremely fast chargers such as the Terra 360 are widely available, drivers will forget about range anxiety, which is one of the main reasons people cite for not purchasing an EV.
ABB Reveals Terra 360, the World's Fastest Electric Vehicle Charger
Video Credit: ABB
How will this development ensure that ABB is continuing its role in enabling a low-carbon society?
The launch of innovative solutions such as Terra 360 is fundamental to enabling a low-carbon society. Driving broader adoption of EVs will reduce carbon emissions and help support a more environmentally friendly future.
Transportation is a major contributor to CO2 emissions in the world. About 24% of all emissions come from this sector and over 75% of those are from road transportation with cars, trucks, and motorbikes. Passenger cars account for 60% of road transportation emissions globally.
Is there a potential for this to be adopted globally as an accessible means of charging electric vehicles? What are the challenges that may be faced and how could these be overcome?
Yes, the launch of Terra 360 presents a huge opportunity for global adoption. ABB is the only company in the e-mobility space active in every continent. Today, our fast chargers are installed in 88 countries worldwide and the number keeps on growing. Our products are designed to be adapted to the local requirements and regulations.
Next to the main product lines for the European and North American market, we have EV chargers compliant with the special requirements of Japan, Singapore, and several Latin American countries.
The Terra 360 will be no exception: starting from Europe, it will be progressively rolled out worldwide. This will help to ‘democratize’ ultra-fast charging, by providing a high-power charging infrastructure in countries that have just started their transition into electric mobility. This will be key to contributing to the e-mobility transition across the globe.
How will this new development coincide with the increasing demand for electric vehicle charging infrastructure?
We believe the launch of Terra 360 will accelerate the increasing demand for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. With this solution, we are creating fast, convenient, and easy to operate charging ideal for the needs of private EV drivers at fueling stations, convenience stores, and retail locations.
Terra 360 chargers can also be installed on an organization’s commercial premises to charge electric fleet cars, vans, and trucks. This gives owners the flexibility to charge up to four vehicles overnight or to give a quick refill to their EVs in the day. Because Terra 360 chargers have a small footprint, they can be installed in small depots or parking lots where space is at a premium.
Image Credit: ABB
ABB has indicated that it will switch its fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles to non-emitting vehicles. Why is this important and what advice would you give to other companies wishing to do the same?
We need to ‘walk the walk’ and are committed to enabling a low-carbon society, as part of our 2030 Sustainability Strategy. ABB has committed to partner with its customers and suppliers to reduce their emissions and to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030.
Supporting the EV100 initiative, ABB has also committed to electrifying its fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles by 2030.
ABB in Sweden, for example, has already started to convert its 700 company cars to all-electric vehicles, while ABB in the UK announced last year that the company will be transitioning over its 500 company cars to an all-electric fleet by 2025.
How do you expect electric vehicle charging technology to develop in the next five years?
We are excited to see such strong growth in the sector. For example, electric car registrations increased by 41% in 2020, despite the pandemic-related worldwide downturn in car sales in which global car sales dropped 16%.
Around 3 million electric cars were sold globally (a 4.6% sales share), and Europe overtook China as the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) market for the first time. Charging infrastructure technology is a critical part of enabling this continued growth in the adoption of EVs and we are delighted to be leading the sector with future-proof solutions such as the Terra 360.
Key advancements in charging technology, like the launch of Terra 360, will further drive future adoption rates over the next five years. In addition to continued innovation in fast charging solutions like we are seeing today, this includes vehicle to grid (V2G) charging which utilizes bi-directional chargers to counterbalance the uneven generation of renewable energy and fast and convenient Plug & Charge solutions.
In terms of electric vehicle technology and infrastructure, what is needed to meet Paris climate goals?
When it comes to achieving global targets for emission reductions, as set out in the Paris Agreement, clear global standards for EVs are required along with credible solutions to abate emissions across the whole industry. Again, this cannot be achieved in isolation but requires public-private joint efforts to create a sustainable, circular EV market.
To surpass targets, governments also need to consider financial incentives and regulatory support to drive the leap from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs that favor efficiencies through shared and autonomous electric rides.
In turn, battery productivity needs to be improved and optimized, so they can be used as storage devices for 95% of the time that they are idle.
How do you ensure your products are as friendly to the environment as possible?
ABB is leading the way to a future of zero-emission mobility. At ABB, it is our mission and purpose to power e-mobility forward. We engineer the electrification solutions for the transport of tomorrow, today. Including smart transportation solutions from EV chargers for the home, through electrified fleet depots and opportunity charging for electric bus and trucks, to high-power chargers for the highway stations of the future.
The manufacturing of these solutions is critical. In 2020, we launched our E-mobility Innovation Lab which houses 120 specialists working on next-generation solutions. Designed to spur further innovations in e-mobility, the $10 million, 3,600 m2 facility is based on the Delft University of Technology campus in the Netherlands and will drive ABB’s future portfolio development as well as R&D projects for EVs.
As part of ABB’s commitment to supporting a low-carbon society, it was vital to not only create a building that can advance progress in sustainable mobility but also to create a facility that will minimize its environmental impact. For heating and cooling, the ABB complex is connected to the Delft University of Technology geothermal heating/cooling plant. The roof also houses solar panels, with solar inverters to convert DC harvested from the sun into AC, which together with ABB’s advanced building management system for climate and light control and battery storage system, allows energy to be fed back into the grid.
Do you have any future developments or upcoming news that you can share with our readers?
ABB is currently building a 16,000 m2 E-mobility facility in San Giovanni, Italy. The plant is designated as a Center of Excellence for the construction of EV charging infrastructure and will also feature ABB digital solutions - smart manufacturing and implementation of smart building technology - for greater automation and connectivity. The plant will open in early 2022 – stay posted for more updates.
Where can readers find more information?
To find out more about ABB’s exciting solutions for e-mobility, click here: E-mobility Solutions | Powering e-mobility forward | ABB
About Frank Mühlon
Frank Mühlon was appointed President of ABB’s newly formed E-mobility Division in February 2021. Prior to that, he held the position of Managing Director of ABB’s E-mobility Infrastructure Solutions business since 2017.
For more than a decade, the global division has provided a complete range of charging and infrastructure solutions from slow AC charging, DC fast charging, and Ultra-fast charging to eBus / heavy vehicle. All chargers are cloud-connected, offer a lot of additional functionality for the user as well as the operator, and are easily serviceable.
With charging at the center, ABB also offers a whole range of low- and medium switchgear for larger sites, battery-energy storage, and site load- and energy management controls.
Before leading the E-mobility business, Frank was Global Head of the Low Voltage modular devices unit and Managing Director of ABB Stotz-Kontakt GmbH in Heidelberg, which is one of the manufacturing sites of those products.
Before joining ABB in 2014, Frank had several global general management positions within the Automotive Division of Bosch and worked in Germany, China, and the US.
Frank has a master's degree in mechanical engineering and business from the University of Darmstadt, Germany, and lives close to Frankfurt, Germany.
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