Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: April 12, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini

Sector opinion: Where to locate the electric truck connector port?

The electric truck market is evolving considerably, with more and more companies seeking to implement higher power capabilities. However, this could pose a new challenge: will robots take center stage in the charging process?
Electric trucks-Mobility-Portal-Espana
First panel of the "Investments and New eMobility Projects in Spain" event.

According to the latest developments announced in the sector, by the end of this year, it is expected that the market will have the MCS charging standard, initially conceived for electric trucks, allowing for charging above 1 megawatt (MW).

Nevertheless, it is crucial to effectively address current challenges beforehand, such as establishing a standard for the location of the recharge connector on electric vehicles (EVs).

This will require careful consideration of the port’s placement to maximize “refueling” operations.

But where should the connector port be situated?

Various industry experts addressed this question during the first panel of the “Investments and New eMobility Projects in Spain” event, organized by Mobility Portal España.

Guillermo López Arias (Kempower).

Guillermo López Arias, Head of Sales Kempower Iberia & LATAM, suggests that ideally, these should be located in the same place, although he acknowledges that ultimately, “it is the decision of each brand.”

He provides service stations as an example.

“They are not a place where you park, reverse, and leave. Rather, they are places where you stop to refuel and then depart from the front. We propose the same in this situation,” he states.

On the other hand, Andrés Barentin, CEO at Dhemax, believes that the connector should be considered for placement on the side at the front, although this could pose problems with the length of the cable.

Andrés Barentin, (Dhemax).

eTrucks will eventually charge in shared locations with electric buses.

“Therefore, it is necessary to develop an approach that does not require the creation of a charging center for each type of vehicle but can be interacted with,” he emphasizes.

He suggests locating the connector in the cabin, at the front, with one side for MCS and the other for CCS, thus avoiding the need for long cables that “might not be the most affordable option.”

This will not only provide convenience during the charging process but also offer economic benefits “by investing in fixed assets” that can adapt to different types of loads for medium and heavy segments.

David Iriarte (Sungrow).

David Iriarte, Senior Sales Manager EV Charging Southern Europe at Sungrow, agrees that the connector should be installed at the front.

He would also place one of each type on both sides, always at the same height as the cabin.

What will happen if a standard is not established?

This will force charging point providers to install very long cables to meet the needs of truck drivers, complicating their management,” he explains.

Not only that, but as power increases, the cables will become heavier, making handling more difficult.

“You’ll have to go to a gym for crossfit or be from Bilbao to handle them,” he emphasizes.

In this situation, will robots begin to take center stage in the recharging of electric trucks?

Currently, some manufacturers are already developing robots to perform the charging of electric vehicles.

Hyundai’s Automatic Charging Robot.

One of the most ambitious projects in this regard is Hyundai‘s.

The company has created the Automatic Charging Robot (ACR), which calculates the location and angle to connect the charging connector.

In this way, it performs the entire process autonomously, connecting and disconnecting the cable from the car’s corresponding port.

Furthermore, there is the possibility of automating the recharging of vehicles entering and exiting stations with multiple points, without the drivers having to be present.

In the future, these solutions could be combined with autonomous parking control systems, allowing for the sequential recharging of several parked cars.

Another project that stands out in this field is the one by the French company Efi Automotive.

Their system allows vehicles to not need to park near a fixed charger, as the equipment can detect them from a distance and position itself underneath them to initiate charging, similar to vacuum robots.

For all these innovations to be effective, it would be ideal for all trucks to standardize the location of the connection port, thus facilitating the work of automated charging systems.

Relive the “Investments and New eMobility Projects in Spain” event:

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