Consumer electric cars, motorcycles, and scooters may receive most of the attention but medium-to-heavy-duty commercial vehicles will also help drive electrification. Of course, the size of such trucks poses an issue for researchers and developers. Current light-duty fast-charging technology peaks at 500 kilowatts, but large commercial trucks will require at least 1 megawatt of charging capacity.

To get ahead of the curve, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists are developing high-powered charging standards. The Megawatt Charging System (MCS) will boast 3.75 megawatts of charging capacity, which is more than seven times that of today’s passenger cars.


Right now, vehicle charging standards result in slow charging times for medium-to-heavy-duty trucks. Most shippers of perishable cargo and priority items can’t accommodate those long wait times, so the researchers are aiming to achieve a 15 to 20-minute fast-charging standard with the MCS. To put the power consumption into perspective, 3.75 megawatts is equivalent to the electricity needs of 3,200 U.S. homes. When complete, the MCS will deliver the same amount of power used by a single household in one day to a charging truck in just 28 seconds.

With such high volumes of energy transferring between vehicle inlets and charger connectors, the organization held its latest connector evaluation in July and August, 2021. The event helped developers to evaluate four manufacturers’ connectors for thermal performance and viability for producing the connectors at scale.

"We’re providing the opportunity for the industry to come together, in a central location, so that even competitors can have detailed conversations on the technical merit of different equipment parameters and come to a consensus," Noted NREL team manager Andrew Meintz.

In addition to the individual charging requirements, scientists are also analyzing how large-scale MCS installations will impact the electric grid. There’s already talk about adapting the technology to buses, boats, and planes, but as the commercial vehicles begin to convert to electric, we can’t wait to see how it affects the consumer electric cars, motorcycles, and scooters.

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