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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.


The report, Strategic Analysis of the US and European Onboard Chargers Market, finds that sale volumes of onboard chargers stood at 304,683 units in 2014 and estimates this to reach 2,235,937 units by 2020. (Frost & Sullivan expects about 2.3 million EVs to be on the road globally by 2020, which correlates to an increase in demand for onboard chargers.)

Technology-related findings from the report include:

  • Onboard charger efficiency varies between 90% and 95%; OEMs’ target is efficiency above 95%. This will be achieved by increasing the volume density.

  • All suppliers are working on downsizing the charger by 10% to 15% by decreasing its weight and volume and increasing the power density.

  • Because chargers range from 3.0 kW to 43 kW, charging station manufacturers are developing a range of compatible stations. For example, ABB has developed a 43 kW AC charging station that is compatible with the Renault Zoe’s 43 kW onboard charger.

  • The 3.3kW chargers in today’s EVs are unidirectional. Manufacturers are developing bidirectional chargers that can interact with a power grid.

More than 15 major companies supply onboard chargers globally, with Lear Corporation and Panasonic in key positions as suppliers for Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. All these companies offer isolated chargers and many including Brusa and Panasonic are investing in R&D to introduce non-isolated chargers.


More than 50% of suppliers are sourcing components such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) filters, power factor controllers (PFCs), and DC-DC converters from Tier I and II suppliers because volume is not high enough to achieve economies of scale through in-house manufacturing. Suppliers must, however, begin to manufacture DC-DC converters and PFCs themselves, as these components account for the maximum cost of onboard chargers and contribute to higher prices.

Currently, over 60 percent of components required to make onboard chargers are being outsourced due to high in-house manufacturing costs. Tier I suppliers in Europe and the US have mainly been sourcing components such as electromagnetic interference filters, power factor controllers (PFCs), and direct current (DC)-DC converters from tier II suppliers.

To cope with the current scenario, major vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Daimler are expected to adopt the component sharing strategy, which will drive production volumes and reduce the cost of components. Another strategy vehicle OEMs could consider is entering strategic alliances to pool the technical expertise of partners and decrease manufacturing costs.

—Frost & Sullivan Automotive & Transportation Senior Research Analyst Prajyot Sathe

By way of high-volume manufacturing and strategic partnerships, onboard charger suppliers in Europe and the US will be able to lower the price of their products. While the current price of an onboard charger ranges from $130 to $230 per kW, prices are likely to fall by 20-25% by 2020.


James McLaughlin

The 3 phase US specifications in the chart make no sense, 230 and 240 VAC 3 phase does not exist in the US as far as I know. 480/277 VAC is common in industrial settings, as is 208/120 VAC but 3 phase is not available in residential locations in the US. Is Frost and Sullivan confused or did I miss something? Maybe they are talking about putting three single phase chargers in parallel for a split phase application (single phase with center tap neutral) such as US 240 VAC?


As I understand the work is not done yet and peoples having already bought an ev and been buying something bad and recharging infrastructure is almost impossible to implement so buyers are becoming aware of these limitations and sale of evs are on a steady decline.

Stop giving subsidies to ev and let the market expand or die freely. Im sick and tire of giving my money to rich imcompetant like tesla, volt, leaf, i3, i8, project better place, cash for clunkers and many many more fraud.

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