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Auto Makers Announce Electric Car Charging Standard 373

Posted by timothy
from the this-could-change-my-mind-when-widespread dept.
Overly Critical Guy writes "Auto makers are launching a universal EV charger that charges an electric vehicle in 15 to 20 minutes. The standard, called Combined Charging System, has been approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers and ACEA, the European association of vehicle manufacturers, as the standard for fast-charging electric vehicles."
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Auto Makers Announce Electric Car Charging Standard

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  • by olden (772043) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:27PM (#39897903)

    And predictably, the only 2 major players in the EV market now, Nissan and Mitsubishi, will just stick to the only widely-deployed fast-charge connector to date, CHAdeMO http://www.chademo.com/ [chademo.com]

    By announcing this new American-only Frankenplug, the SAE only helps delaying the (IMHO much-needed) EV adoption in the US and related charging infrastructure. But that's probably exactly what Chrysler & Co want, so they have more time catching up with the Japanese automakers...

  • Re:Define "charges" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:29PM (#39897913) Homepage

    Better question is how many KWh can it deliver in 15 mins?

    Depends on the power available to the charger. For example, Volt's battery is about 16 kWh. If it is used by 2/3 (10 kWh) then to charge it in 1/4 of an hour you need to apply 40 kW for 15 minutes.

    When you fuel your gas car the average [chemical] power of the connection is 8 MW.

  • Re:15-30 minutes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro@NosPAM.gmail.com> on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:34PM (#39897947) Homepage Journal

    While I see your point, the result of this will be that we're going to see "refueling stations" pop up in a lot of heretofore unexpected places. To start, without the need for gas to be trucked in and stored locally they don't need the same infrastructure that a regular gas station does. Because of this, you can simply install one or two of these in common parking areas. Then, imagine going to a mall where you can park, plug in to a station (I'd imagine a handful per row, not one per spot) and do your shopping. Even if you're not in there long enough to get a full charge, you're still better off than you once were. It's also an extra feature that can be touted by various shopping locales to get people to shop there, and then combined with loyalty cards for "fuel" discounts for further enticements.

    The main issue I see with this is how to make sure that while you're away someone doesn't unplug the charger, plug it into their own car, charge for a few minutes, and drive off. I haven't seen the spec, but including the ability (if not making it mandatory) that when unplugging the charger the transaction ceases sounds like a good idea. That opens its own problems to pranking, but I'd think most people would prefer not having a fully-charged car to having a fully-charged car and also paying for someone else's fully-charge car.

    Some sort of locking mechanism with a key (like subway/airport lockers, before TERRERISTS made them go away) might be an option, but that introduces another set of problems and seems outside the goal of this spec.

    I can also see large companies with their own campuses, especially the likes of Apple or Google, installing these in their parking lots for employees and using a "co-op" setup, where the employees get the charge at cost or barely above. If they included some sort of valet system (I wouldn't be surprised if they already had something like that at the larger facilities), cars could be dropped off, charged, and parked once done on a rotating basis.

    In short, gas stations as we understand them will die off with the use of gasoline (assuming it ever does so) and new options will emerge that will work with the extended refuel time. Also, if the 15-20 minutes is from near-empty to full charge (What, RTFA? Please.), most people will probably only need 2 minutes worth of charging to make sure they can get back home for short hops. They'll plug in at home and do a long charge overnight.

  • Re:15-30 minutes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:02PM (#39898085) Homepage Journal

    There are several in my neighborhood, near downtown Chicago, in places you wouldn't expect. The parking lot for Walgreens for example. Other mall parking lots. Commuter train stations which seems like a really great idea, so people can charge their car while they're at work.

    I just finished an interesting book about one part of the oil industry, Exxon-Mobil, called Private Empire. It's by Steve Coll, the writer from the New Yorker who's won a couple of Pulitzers. He spent a lot of time talking to Exxon people, and got unprecedented access to the company. He posits that Exxon isn't worried about solar, or wind, or any alternative fuel. The only technology that could present an existential threat to their hegemony as the most powerful corporation in the world (their own military, ambassadors, foreign policy, etc) - the one technology that worries them, is batteries. If there is a significant advance in battery technology, they're screwed. Apparently, they waited too long because of the ideological bent of their last CEO and didn't spend any money researching or acquiring tech that could help them in those areas, and now that their new CEO has (at least publicly) dropped the company's funding of anti-AGW groups, it's too late for them to make any inroads there.

    I'm not particularly fond of Exxon-Mobil as a company. I don't buy gas (or soda pop, or cigarettes, or candy bars) from Exxon-Mobil and will drive an extra couple of miles to shop with a company that isn't quite so evil (Sunoco is my favorite). But the book was a fascinating read.

    By the way, there are a couple of start-ups right here in Illinois that have been doing pretty well with research (partnered with UofIllinois) and development and manufacture of batteries for electric automobiles. Couple of thousand people working in a pretty hard-hit part of the state. They export batteries to Europe and Asia. They got start-up money from the DoE, just like Solyndra, but these companies have succeeded and one has already paid back all the government money with interest.

    Does anyone think that we have reached some sort of absolute limit on the ability of batteries to power automobiles? I don't know enough about the technology to know one way or the other.

  • Re:Define "charges" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:10PM (#39898137) Homepage

    Gasoline engines of around 100 HP are at efficiency from 25% to 30%. An EV that is 100% efficient would need to transfer energy at the rate of about 2 MW to match the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels (and the fueling time.)

    There is another way to calculate it. As we know,

    The Volt is propelled by an electric motor with a peak output of 111 kW (149 hp) delivering 273 lb-ft (368 N-m) of torque. (Wikipedia.)

    If we presume that this motor is sufficient for all modes of operation (probably true) then we can say that the car takes 110 kW to run at 80 mph. If we want the range to be 300 miles (which is on the lower edge of usual ranges but will certainly do for an EV) then we need to drive for 4 hours. This will consume 440 kWh.

    If the charger can transfer 2 MW of power then the charging will take 13.2 minutes. This does not include issues of battery cooling that will certainly arise at that rate of charging.

    Considering that 80 mph is not the most efficient speed, the actual energy needs and the charging time will be somewhat smaller - like 10 minutes - but I don't know how much energy it may take to run Volt at different speeds.

  • Re:Define "charges" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FishTankX (1539069) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:27PM (#39898251)

    You're calculations are wrong. If the volt used 110kw to run at 80MPH, it would drain it's 16kwh battery pack in about 6 minutes, giving it a range of about 11 miles.

    If you use this website

    http://www.wallaceracing.com/Calculate%20HP%20For%20Speed.php [wallaceracing.com]

    And plug in the relevant numbers for the volt (0.28cod, 25 sqft frontal area, ~3800lbs) you'll see that the volt only consumes around 24kw cruising at 80MPH.

    The main reason cars have multiple hundred horse power engines is because acceleration is power demanding.

  • Re:15-30 minutes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robot256 (1635039) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:47PM (#39898355)

    Heads-up: DC fast charging (L3) is NOT designed to replace the normal "slow" L1/L2 AC charging. At least with current battery technologies, frequent fast charging will dramatically reduce the lifespan of your battery pack and is discouraged by the manufacturers. Fast chargers should ONLY show up in places where people need emergency charging or need to make 100-300 mile hops between urban centers. When you do use them, expect to pay about as much as you would for a tank of gas. You'll want to avoid this as much as possible so you can actually save money by operating your EV.

    Fast chargers are significantly more expensive to install than L2 (220VAC) chargers because they normally require *battery buffers* to reduce peak load on the grid. Commercial parking lots will almost never opt for expensive fast chargers when the standard L2 chargers provide about 30 miles of range in one hour, more than enough to aid your customers and much easier on your wallet and theirs alike.

    The primary charging method of all EVs will still be slow-charging at home, just like you do with your smart phone. It's cheaper, easier, and takes less of your time than waiting around 15 minutes for it to finish at some dingy gas station. There is absolutely no reason to use fast chargers but in exceptional circumstances.

    These are the "new options" that you speak of. Parking = Charging is where we need to be, and it will cover the vast majority of EV operating hours. The DC fast chargers are only to fill in the gaps between parked chargers, not some sort of "gas station replacement". The whole point of the electric vehicle is to do away with the gas station model and simply live off the grid, getting power whenever and wherever you happen to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:03PM (#39898455)

    One of the things I've discovered is that I almost never need to charge away from home. I've been driving my Leaf for a year and so far I've charged at public stations 3 times, and really only one of those times did I really need to.

    Ask yourself this question. If you could fill up your gasoline car in your own garage, how often would you use public gas stations?

  • Re:Define "charges" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:56PM (#39898749)

    I'm going to be a pure cynic here, but when we start seeing tons of cables sticking out at parking lots, we will start seeing vandals either cutting them (which was common with pay phone connectors), or making some device to short out leads just so they can see the arcs fly. The current (and voltage) needed to charge an EV quickly will make a lot of fireworks if short-circuited.

    We will see drunks piss on a cable, then their next of kin sue the station and everyone else upstream.

    At least with gasoline, if someone is an idiot, the court precedents are in place that show that if they light gasoline, it is their fault, not Shell's.

  • by Rei (128717) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @11:50AM (#39901795) Homepage

    Fast charging battery tend to have very low lifespan.

    Only in batteries not designed for fast charging.

    That may sound like a snarky answer, but it's not. There's a huge number of engineering design decisions and tradeoffs that one can make, and you can basically pick and choose your ability to deal with different challenges by how much you care about them versus other challenges -- namely, cost and energy density. Of course, today's LiPos and spinels have advanced so much that it's not hard at all to deal with fast charging, from a cell chemistry perspective; the main challenge now is simply designing a pack that can be cooled properly without being overly heavy or complicated.

    FYI, A123 has packs that can repeatedly be charged and discharged in just a couple minutes without any special cooling that are popular in the RC world, but they're quite expensive.

    And anyway, beyond all this -- how often do you think the average person goes more than 100 miles on a tank? No, seriously? A couple times a year perhaps? A couple fast charges per year -- let's say 6 -- and, say, a 10 year battery life = 60 fast charges. Not a freaking lot.

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