Blog| Truck & Van30th April 2024

Megawatt Charging System to Unlock Power for Electric Trucks

John Granby, Director of eTruck & Van at EO Charging and Erik Kanerva, Sales Director at Kempower

Electric vehicles (EVs) have finally gone mainstream, and electrification now plays a central role in public policy and business strategies. With the electrification of cars, vans, and buses gaining unstoppable momentum, there has been a growing appreciation amongst commercial fleet customers for the benefits of electrification. However, the electrification of heavy goods vehicles has been slower to develop, with more challenges in battery range and charger requirements.  

Many of the major truck manufacturers are busy testing fully electric heavy vehicles and are on the verge of entering the mainstream market. Heavy commercial vehicles are responsible for around 25% of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU and approximately 6% of the region's total emissions, so electrifying these fleets will significantly reduce carbon emissions. However, to achieve the goal of electrification of their ranges, major truck manufacturers will require the charging infrastructure in place so that customers have the confidence to invest in large-scale electrification of their fleets.  

That is one of the reasons why charging system manufacturer Kempower expects the commercial vehicle DC charging market in Europe and North America to have a 37% compound annual growth rate until 2030. Trucks need large battery packs to give them an equivalent range to conventional engines. Charging these quickly enough is a real challenge and requires higher-powered charging infrastructure.  

The Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN) is a global association that has been working on a standard for the rapid charging of trucks for several years. CharIN has created the Megawatt Charging System (MCS) concept, which has become the basis for the ISO and IEC standards that will guide the manufacture, installation, and operation of rapid charging infrastructure for trucks. The MCS is designed to standardise how vast amounts of charging power can be delivered to vehicles quickly. This means, among other things, that the MCS inlet will be placed at the same position in the truck to help harmonise infrastructure layouts. MCS also offers improved communication robustness, reducing downtime related to failed charging events. Commercial vehicle customers have very specific driving patterns.  

The increased charge rate offered by MCS will allow them to drive more distance daily by utilising the mandated break time from the hours-of-service regulations governing their drivers. These regulations state that drivers must take breaks, so reducing charging times to fit into these times is an enabler for improved electrification for commercial vehicles. In its final development stage, the MCS will work up to 3,000 A and 1,25 kV to deliver up to 3,75 MW power when charging. MCS is based on a global agreement on technical specifications, with the support of a large portion of the industry. An internationally adopted standard is essential to drive harmonised solutions that help lower costs and increase interoperability without compromising safety and uptime.  

The MCS is not focused on depot charging but more on trucks on the highway. It is a particular focus for large truck units doing long-haul routes, plus some smaller rigid trucks doing short-haul deliveries where they cross borders, such as logistics companies running deliveries between the UK and continental Europe. While most MCS charging will happen enroute as drivers break their journeys, some depots might have one MCS charger amongst their infrastructure to do a flash charge if a fast turnaround of a truck is required. This unit will require 1MW+ of electricity supply, so load management will be essential to balance its demand versus other chargers on site. With the Megawatt Charging System, the future of electric trucks is bright. The MCS is set to revolutionise the trucking industry by providing a charging infrastructure that can deliver vast amounts of power quickly, paving the way for a future where electric trucks can compete with their diesel counterparts. 

EO Charging blog - megawatt charging system