The five-minute rechargeable battery for an electric car was the story that generated the most excitement at SmartCitiesWorld this week. I would love to charge any manner of household items in five minutes - whether my iPad, vacuum cleaner or Nintendo Switch - let alone a car
This week’s news that you could spend as long recharging your electric car as it takes to stand at a petrol pump bored out of your mind as you do the needful is the latest exciting breakthrough for the sector.
StoreDot, which is working with BP on the battery, promises five minutes of charge will give you 100 miles of driving. This is an impressive feat but it also reveals just how far electric vehicles have to travel before most consumers are ready to jump.
In some cases, spending five minutes filling a car up with petrol will get you almost 10 times the mileage as the 100 miles StoreDot is promising in the same amount of time spent charging. To give two example, given the average American and Briton travel around 12 miles per day, it is unlikely they will be willing to switch on charging speed alone, unless they bizarrely love their trips to a charging station.
Battery manufacturers will need to think of capacity as much as they are thinking about charging speed. Convenience and cost will be the factors that most convince drivers to jump to electric cars. Capacity will also be particularly important for people who live in remote areas and do not fancy a frequent and long round trip to recharge their vehicles.
The good news is that charging time will continue to be an easy way for electric car manufacturers to generate some easy PR and market their vehicles. Competition will drive prices and charging times down. Capacity may be less exciting but it’s arguably the more important feature to encourage more drivers to swap petrol for electricity.