ABB says it is “underlining its market leading position” in electric vehicle charging infrastructure by establishing a new E-mobility Innovation Lab, where it will house 120 specialists working on next generation solutions. (See video below.)
Designed to spur further innovations in e-mobility, the $10 million, 3,600 sq m facility is based on the Delft University of Technology campus, in the Netherlands and will drive ABB’s future portfolio development, as well as R&D projects for EVs. The University was ranked among the top 15 engineering and technology universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings in 2020.
Along with an investment of $30 million into a global Center of Excellence and production site for EV charging infrastructure, due to open next year in Italy, the facility in Delft underlines ABB’s plans to grow investments in sustaining its technology leadership.
Frank Muehlon, head of ABB’s global business for e-mobility infrastructure solutions, says: “Innovation is in our blood – ABB has led the way in EV charging and is proud to have played a key role in driving adoption rates of electric vehicles across the world.
“That is why we wanted to locate our E-mobility Innovation Lab in Delft, in the heart of the university campus, where we are surrounded by the brightest tech talents and start-ups in the Netherlands.”
The complex, which will house up to 120 specialists, marks the return of ABB’s EV charging business to the home of its conception. Indeed, the students who founded Epyon (the EV charging start-up acquired by ABB in 2011), were former students from Delft University of Technology.
Muehlon says: “Within ABB Electrification, we invest approximately $400 million per annum into R&D to ensure we remain at the forefront of technological leadership and set the standard when it comes to sustainable mobility.
“As part of this investment, we are focused on pushing the boundaries of e-mobility, predominantly in the areas of charging, storage and digitalization. The new lab will allow us to strengthen our collaboration with EV manufacturers to drive further performance and progress across the sector.”
Ensuring the seamless connection between vehicles, charging stations, charging networks, and the grid, together with the software systems that support them is a key focus for ABB.
The E-mobility Innovation Lab has been fitted with the latest technology to ensure that ABB chargers are compatible with all types of vehicle. Simulators have been built exactly for this purpose, with 95 percent of all tests to be conducted with a digital copy of vehicles.
To test how vehicles perform in very hot or cold weather, ABB has developed special environmental testing rooms, where solutions will be subjected to extreme conditions, including temperatures from -40 to +100 degrees Celsius and high humidity.
The atrium is large enough for manufacturers to drive their cars, buses or trucks into the warm and controlled environment to conduct testing, which will help advance charging for the rapidly growing electric-heavy vehicle segment.
As part of ABB’s commitment to support a low-carbon society, it was vital to not only create a building that can advance progress in sustainable mobility, but also to create a facility that will minimize its environmental impact.
For heating and cooling, the ABB complex will be connected to the Delft University of Technology geothermal heating/cooling plant. The roof will house solar panels, with solar inverters to convert DC harvested from the sun into AC, which together with ABB’s advanced building management system for climate and light control and battery storage system, will allow testing energy to be fed back into the grid.
In November this year, ABB announced that it will increase R&D and digital spend to about 5 percent of revenues per year led by the business. This approach creates superior value for customers and drives a higher quality of revenues for the company, focusing on high-growth segments including e-mobility. Across the group, ABB has around 7,000 employees in R&D with 60 percent of them focused on developing software and digital innovations.
ABB entered the EV-charging market in 2010, and to date has sold more than 17,000 ABB DC fast chargers across 80 countries. Its commitment to driving progress in e-mobility is shown most clearly through the title partnership with the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, which is about to enter its fourth season. From Season 9, in 2022-23, ABB will become official charging supplier to the championship.