We've done it. It's taken us just five months, and we now have a fully demonstrable charging system and battery system, installed in a vehicle and ready to run.
In this short video below, Michael Boxwell, our CEO, gives a short demonstration of our system and charges the EV from 1% state-of-charge to 100% in just five minutes and 40 seconds.
The electric truck we will be using for our 6-minute EV testing and demonstrations has arrived at our Birmingham workshops ready to be reconfigured for the 6-minute EV battery system.
The vehicle is an Aixam Mega Multitruck. Designed for inner-city deliveries, this little truck typifies one of the types of vehicles we expect to see as early adopters of 6-minute EV technology: small, lightweight niche vehicles for applications such as final-mile delivery, autonomous driving or industrial use.
6-minute EV charging rewrites the rulebook. Creating EVs that charge as quickly as refuelling eliminates the barriers for EV uptake and heralds a new generation of vehicles. Combined with the development of autonomous vehicles, mobility-as-a-service and the ever advancing power delivery capabilities of batteries, we believe 6-minute EV batteries will begin appearing in mainstream cars in 2025 and will be the norm by the end of this decade.
In the short-term, 6-minute EV batteries will be a niche product. Costs will initially be higher than conventional batteries, whilst their comparatively low energy density will mean a shorter range.
Yet that still means there are markets that make perfect sense for 6-minute EVs. In each of these applications, EV recharge time is a barrier that must be overcome for widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Here are a few niche applications where 6-minute EV batteries will be ready for use in the next two to three years:
Emergency Services – Ambulances and Fire Tenders
Neither emergency ambulances or fire tenders travel hundreds of miles on a single journey: most serve a small geographical area with a stem mileage of less than ten miles, but need to be available at a moments’ notice. Additionally, both return to central points – either a hospital or a fire station –at which point there is a short downtime whilst patents are transferred, or fire tenders are checked and restocked.
Industrial and Airport Vehicles
Electric fork-lift trucks and tugs are nothing new, but in many applications gas-powered vehicles are still in use. These gas-powered vehicles are used inside warehouses and factories, pollute the workplace and creating unnecessary carbon emissions. Yet they remain popular as they are available 24/7 with minimal downtime. In workplaces that operate around the clock, the 6-8 hour recharge time for an electric fork-lift truck is simply unviable. Companies that use electric trucks in this environment inevitably end up buying more fork-lift trucks and spend more time ensuring vehicles are charged up and ready to use.
6-minute EV batteries eliminates these problems. The batteries can be recharged more safely and in around the same time it takes to swap a gas canister on a gas-powered truck. Trucks can be recharged in the few minutes downtime between shifts or at quiet times of the day.
COVID-19 has transformed the final-mile delivery market. With far more goods being bought online, couriers and delivery companies have struggled to keep up with demand. In turn, this has meant many companies operating multiple shifts, keeping vehicles on the road for longer and reducing idle time.
In this environment, 6-minute EV charging provides the solution: instead of parking vehicles for hours to recharge, vehicles can be recharged between shifts whilst being reloaded. Alternatively, drivers can refuel at service stations whilst on their route without impacting on their schedule.
In many towns and cities, cars are often only ever used for short journeys. Privately owned cars average under 23-miles a day, and many do far less than this. For people with no access to off-road parking, a city car with a 100-mile range could be conveniently recharged once or twice a week at a service station, whilst the 6-minute recharge times would mean that the occasional long distance journey need not be the major inconvenience it is today.
Likewise, self-driving pods combined with mobility-as-a-service promises to revolutionise personal travel. Far cheaper and more convenient than owning your own car, requesting a pod via a mobile phone app and being ferried to your destination is likely to become more popular and widespread than private car ownership. Combined with 6-minute EV batteries, these pods can be available 24/7 with minimal downtime, maximising their usage and ensuring pods are always available for use.
Whilst 6-minute EV vehicles will start as a niche product, there is no doubt their application can have some significant short-term benefits and prove to be a sizeable market by themselves. Early adopters will benefit from first mover advantage in their respective markets, whilst the knowledge gained will filter into the next generation of mainstream vehicles.
We all know the problem with EVs: limited range and long recharge times. Whilst sometimes the problem is overblown, having a vehicle out-of-action to recharge requires forward planning. At best, it is a nuisance, at worst, a major barrier for adoption.
What if it were possible to charge an EV in the same amount of time it takes to refuel a conventional car at a service station? Suddenly, one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption would be removed. No more would you need off-road parking at home when you can refuel in minutes at a service station. No longer would businesses have to plan recharge time into their daily routines. Furthermore, it would open EV uptake to new markets where long recharge times is an obstacle that cannot be overcome – ambulances and fire tenders could operate 24/7; industrial fork-lift trucks can be used around the clock; delivery vans can be used for multiple shifts. No longer would organisations have to manage their businesses around their EVs, instead the EVs integrate seamlessly into the businesses offering the benefits of zero-pollution, ease of use and lower maintenance costs with 24/7 operation and refuelling flexibility.
In the past decade, the focus on EV batteries has been on extending the range. Yet charging times have remained relatively static: for even the very latest electric cars from Porsche, Audi and Tesla, the fastest flat-to-full charging remains at around 30-40 minutes much as it did in 2010 with the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The latest 350kW charging does little to shorten the overall charge time compared to the 50kW chargers of a decade ago: they just allow cars with bigger batteries to charge in the same amount of time.
We are looking at the problem differently. Instead of focusing on range, we are focusing on keeping the vehicles running around the clock by minimising recharge time. In the short-term, that means vehicles with 6-minute EV battery packs will have a shorter overall range. And whilst that means it is not the perfect panacea for everyone right now, we are confident that if we crack the power delivery problem, the extended range will follow on. The first 6-minute EV vehicles are likely to be on the road within two years. In five to ten years’ time, 6-minute EV technology is likely to be the norm for everyone.
Of course, creating a battery that can charge in 6-minutes has lots of technical challenges: and not just with the battery itself. Charging the battery also presents huge technical, practical and commercial challenges. 6-minute charging on a car like the Porsche Taycan or Tesla Model X would render the very latest 350kW chargers obsolete, requiring wholesale infrastructure upgrades for mainstream EV adoption. The question about where we get the power from must also be addressed.
To create electric vehicles that can charge from flat-to-full in just 6-minutes is a huge challenge. Yet it is one that we must accomplish if electric vehicles are truly going to replace petrol and diesel. To that end, we have set ourselves the challenge to create a 6-minute EV battery pack, install it in an electric commercial vehicle and provide public demonstrations of the 6-minute charging system, all within five months.
We will also design and build a 1MW EV charging point that will be capable of charging mainstream EVs – either splitting the power to charge up to 24 vehicles concurrently or capable of charging a smaller number of vehicles within 6-minutes.
Once complete, we will be publishing our battery information to allow vehicle manufacturers to produce their own 6-minute EVs. We currently have the backing of four vehicle manufacturers with many more expressing interest.
Right now, we have been carrying out bench tests on our cells and simulating the performance of our battery pack and charging system. The cell design has been finalised and the first test batch are to be manufactured next week. We have purchased the electric van that we are using as a development mule and we are finalising the design of our battery management system. Over the next few weeks, we will be completing the design of our battery pack and charging system, ordering components from suppliers, and writing controller software. Physical hardware building has begun and we expect to have completed our first phase of the project by April.
During the project, we will be posting regular blog updates. We will explain the underlying technology, the challenges we are overcoming and demonstrate our progress. We will discuss the hurdles that need to be overcome to allow for widespread 6-minute EV adoption and demonstrate how we hope to overcome them. And we will talk about some of the practical applications for 6-minute EV charging and where and when the early adopters of the technology are likely to emerge.
We are tremendously excited about our technology and the opportunities that are opening to us. We know that what we are doing is technically and commercially feasible, and we know that we could revolutionise EVs and EV charging over the next ten years. We are looking forward to showing the whole world what we can do over the next five months.