Green Update: Fast-Charging the Leaf and the Industry

Nissan Leaf charger

Nissan claims it has developed a 10-minute recharger for the Leaf, report the New York Daily News and POPSCI. The latter questions whether the new technology applies to the charger or the battery.

The general bottleneck in reducing charging time isn’t in the charger or the amount of power that can be pumped into batteries, but rather in the frailty of the batteries themselves—the cells can’t handle too much current at once. So a new battery technology that can cope with a very high amount of energy without degradation could conceivable [sic] allow that kind of super-fast charging.

The Daily News talks about a price of around $13,000 for the new fast-charger. So this may not be quite the breakthrough Leaf owners and others have wanted. Still, Nissan has dropped the cost of its present home charger to $1,818, including installation.

There is no question that a recharge time of 10 minutes would do wonders to boost electric car sales. And such quick-charging reportedly won’t damage the battery.

Along with the dreaded range anxiety, long overnight charging times are one of the bugaboos of EVs, so this may (and we stress “may”) be a very significant development.

Some backyard mechanic/engineering types in California are working to improve aspects of the Leaf’s performance—probably without Nissan’s blessing.

Phil SadowOne of these, Phil Sadow (right), got disgusted at the rip-off charges of up to $6,000 to install 240-volt chargers in homes. He found a way to adapt the 120-volt charge cord that comes with the Leaf so it can handle 240 volts and recharge safely in less than 8 hours. Standard recharge of the Leaf at 120 volts takes about 20 hours.

Nearly 15 percent of the 7,000 U.S. Leaf owners have bought his $239 software modification. Says Phil, “The E.V. cord should be as simple as a garden hose.”

To help make it so, seven big German and American carmakers (Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen) have agreed to develop a common charging standard for their vehicles to communicate with the charging station.

The Asians have yet to join in, but this is a very good idea, and it will be backward compatible to accommodate current Leafs.

Electric car technology is changing rapidly. Now, let’s get to work on the charging infrastructure. Would you agree?


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1 Comment

  1. Not unless there is a genuine surge in real consumer buying. Almost all “green” technology is heavily subsidized and bought by government units or departments. Solar, wind, gas, propane, and biofuels are all used almost exclusively by government entities. Think municipal governments, state government, and even local government use of cars, trucks, buses, etc. For solar panels, wind, geothermal all these are largely justified to supplement the electrical grid. The downside is that this kind of energy is so subsidized as to make it impractical for stand alone industrial use. Take away the incentive and there is no economic justification for their use. They simply won’t work because they provide no profit motive to do the proper R&D necessary to produce the kind of innovation that your story tells.

    Look at the Volt. Not really an EV which is what was originally promised but rather a hybrid. Sales so far is less than 5000 units.
    The Leaf has done not much better but is at least twice Volt sales. In both cases the Neanderthal nature of the battery technology is the major deterrent to widespread us of the EV. Dealer ripoffs to claim the $7500 incentive hasn’t help promote the EV properly. Way too much bad press by skeptical media types hasn’t helped any either.
    When all the negativity about the practicality of the EV diminishes and battery technology improves geometrically and home charging systems become far more efficient, then we will become motivated to purchase one of these rascals, but for now, that is not going to happen in the immediate future.

    Currently charging stations are being yanked out of most places that were early adopters. Target and Costco have been pulling them out because of lack of use. Home systems are very expensive and as your article describes are way too slow to charge. You state that EV technology is changing rapidly, but I see that as being a problem not something to be seen as encouraging. Like the early VCR, floppy disc, CD wars, formatting and universal standards are going to change and it is the consumer who will pay the price. So it is way too early to get really excited about the EV, which for you skeptics out there, is going to ultimately be the solution to our foreign oil
    dilemma, until all the bugs and kinks have been worked out. I see that Tesla is coming out with a 300 mile range EV which should forever to away with “range anxiety” that many people fear so much.
    But again, the bugaboo will be the cost and the incentives. So when you and I purchase one with our own money and with no incentive it is then that we will know that the EV has finally arrived.

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