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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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  • Define "charges" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:52PM (#39897685) Homepage

    I could claim that my phone "charges" in 30 seconds, and I'd be correct. Of course, it only charges ~1% in 30 seconds, so that's not very useful.

    When they say this charger will charge your car in 15 minutes, I'm assuming they don't mean a full charge. But what DO they mean?

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:05PM (#39897761)

      Often when it comes to fast charge solutions, the quoted time is to reach 80% charge. The remaining 20% usually take a relatively long time because it's slower to charge a battery that's almost fully charged. You can see this in action pretty clearly if you own a laptop.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It means the batteries will universally charge you for a new expensive replacement in 1.5 to 2 years deppending on how often you drive. Or something like that.

    • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:15PM (#39897829)

      Valid question. But for something like the Volt, they only operate the battery from ~30% capacity to 80% capacity, which means you can fast charge a "full charge". Most batteries don't have to slow the charging until somewhere over 90% capacity.

      Better question is how many KWh can it deliver in 15 mins? Since vehicle battery capacities vary significantly, that's the relevant question.

      • 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.

        • Which is exactly why I asked the question. How much power can it deliver in 15 minutes? It will have maximum voltage and amperage that the connection is capable of delivering, yielding a maximum power it can deliver, yielding a maximum energy it can deliver. And the commonly used unit for measuring electric energy is KWh.

          So again, how many KWh can it deliver in 15 mins? Everything else is secondary.

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

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:53PM (#39898039)

            According to http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-57427823-54/automakers-heres-how-well-charge-evs-in-15-20-minutes/ it is rated at 500 volts at 200 amps. So the total KWh for fifteen minutes would be 25.

            • by green1 (322787)

              That also guarantees you won't install this in your house as you have a maximum of 240v at 100-200amps available (200 only in the newest houses)

              • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @02:57AM (#39899711) Homepage

                That also guarantees you won't install this in your house as you have a maximum of 240v at 100-200amps available (200 only in the newest houses)

                On the other hand, people typically want to stay home for more than 15 minutes at a stretch anyway, so slower charging times probably aren't such a big deal there.

              • by Rei (128717)

                First, why would you ever need such fast charging in your house? No, seriously -- why? Given that you can't "rapid-charge" your gas car at home -- nay, can't "charge" it at all at home -- and that there's really no point, since you only need rapid charge on long trips...

                Secondly, it is possible if you add a battery bank.

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

          But that's the difference - it does not take as much power to pump the fuel to my car, so it can be done pretty fast (full tank from empty in a couple of minutes), it is even possible to do it manually (using a gas canister) if car ran out of gas before you reached the station.

          • I'm sure vendors will very quickly develop a "gas canister" sized portable battery pack for emergencies. It'll be even more convenient than the current petrol versions.
            • That would be interesting - a small, but very powerful battery.

              Usually the problem with small batteries is that they cannot supply a lot of power, even if they have a lot of energy. I am most familiar with lead-acid batteries (the kind that is used in a UPS), if you discharge them in 10 minutes or so, the real capacity becomes very small compared to the rated capacity (which is rated for a 20 hour discharge).

              As electric cars need a lot of electricity (compared to, say, gasoline powered cars), the battery wo

              • the battery would have to have large capacity and be able to deliver it in 10 minutes or less

                Not really.

                The battery would be plugged in and stay in the car. Maybe even automatically switch it to an energy conservation mode to get it to the nearest charging station. For longer (remote area) rescues, you could probably even hire/use a battery or generator trailer.

                Making things electric allows for a lot of smarts to be included.

                • The battery would be plugged in and stay in the car.

                  That will require even more power. While the average power consumption of a car might be manageable for a small battery, the initial acceleration may be a problem. Add in lights and heating (it may be -20C outside). And it results in a battery that I would like to have for my UPS :) After all, it has to be affordable.

              • by Rei (128717)

                I actually did the math once, and it is feasible. You need, of course, the more expensive, higher power cells to do it. And you don't want it just sitting around unused in the vehicle, because of course any batteries in the vehicle should be going to good use; it should be connected to the vehicle's electric system in normal operation. But if you have a detachable battery section, you can have 20-30 pounds of cells with shoulder straps and a hip belt for walking to the nearest farmhouse, charge on 110V/1

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            ...it is even possible to do it manually (using a gas canister) if car ran out of gas before you reached the station.

            Do you have a citation for that assertion or are you just making that up?

            • It is possible to carry some extra gasoline in a canister in the trunk, so if I run out, I can pour the gasoline from the canister to the tank. Did that a few times. Even if the canister was empty (or I forgot to bring it with me), I could still go to the nearest gas station on foot, buy the canister if I don't have one, fill it and bring it to my car, pour the gasoline to the tank and drive to the gas station. My dad did that once.

              • Ha, my horse never runs out of gas. If it's hungry I just let it eat grass. This new fangled gasoline powered transportation seems pretty inconvenient.
            • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Friday May 04, 2012 @10:16PM (#39898551)

              ...it is even possible to do it manually (using a gas canister) if car ran out of gas before you reached the station.

              Do you have a citation for that assertion or are you just making that up?

              You want a citation for "carrying a spare gallon of fuel in a fuel can in the trunk"?

              Jesus. What are you, a wikipedia editor?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gstrickler (920733)

          8MW is a measure of power, but it's irrelevant to the question at hand. Gas powered vehicles waste most of the energy in gasoline. Heat, friction, conversion efficiency, etc. So the theoretical power flowing through a fuel hose has only an indirect relationship to the amount of power an EV will require to theoretically be able to "charge" as quickly as you can refuel.

          • 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.

          • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:12PM (#39898143) Homepage

            All true, aside from the "irrelevant" part: power capacity is very nearly the only relevant factor in an electric-vehicle charging system, aside from the obvious safety considerations. Electric vehicles do indeed require somewhat less energy to travel a given distance. However, all those factors combined only make an ideal (100% efficient) electric vehicle about 3-5 times more energy-efficient (gasoline being somewhere between 20% and 30%), whereas the 8MW delivered by a gas pump is 200 times the GP's estimated 40 kW charging rate. Whether the target is 8MW or 1MW, we're still a long way from matching the recharge rate possible with chemical energy.

    • by caladine (1290184)
      Well, they mean the system they're proposing will support charging your vehicle in as little as 15 minutes.
      i.e. The connector supports lots of different fast-charging options ( 3 phase AC, High Voltage DC) and can handle the current required* to charge in 15 minutes.
      *Naturally, YMMV - since you need to be able to source the current required, charging times are dependent upon battery size, etc.
      • by icebike (68054) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:14PM (#39898153)

        But it does allow people to start planning service stations with some confidence that they will be able to service the bulk of the fleet, instead of needing charge stations for each car.

        The 15 to 20 minutes is a reasonable amount of time as well. By the time you refill your coffee, pump the bilge, buy the snack, your car would be ready.

        This also allows restaurants and coffee shops on major highways to start installing charge stations in their lots. They sell you the juice while you are having your lunch. We could see gas stations disappear in our life time. (Well, maybe in your life time).

        Standardization of basic infrastructure like this is a key hurdle for EVs to gain market share. But the typical (and optimistic) 100 mile range of a Battery Electric Vehicle is still a killer for anything but around town driving.

  • by kae77 (1006997)
    If this catches on (I don't see any Japanese partners in TFA), it could be a sudden outbreak of common sense. Maybe even... convenience for the consumer?
  • by dopaz (148229) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:54PM (#39897695) Homepage

    Standardization sounds like a good plan, so we can focus on one format of charging infrastructure.

  • Pit stop (Score:4, Funny)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:56PM (#39897715) Journal

    With my prostrate, it takes me about that long to pee anyway, so it's good to see progress is being made.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:03PM (#39897755)

    This just in, gas stations rolling out new chargers that will charge your vehicle for a whole week and it will only take 2 minutes. Please have your credit card handy.

    • by billius (1188143)

      This just in, gas stations rolling out new chargers that will charge your vehicle for a whole week and it will only take 2 minutes. Please have your credit card handy.

      That's a fair point, but I could still see this being very practical if it's the type of thing you could do at home. I really like the idea of not having to worry about whether or not my car has enough "juice" (be it gasoline or electricity) because it gets fully charged every night.

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

      by RyoShin (610051) <tukaroNO@SPAMgmail.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: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.

      • 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.

        The same argument could be made for natural gas. And no, you don't want one of these in a common parking area. In a word, children. Anything that can dump several thousand watts of juice into a vehicle in that short of a time can be fucked with, and probably with deadly results. Also... unlike a gas station, the use of these pretty much mandates the use of credit cards... I haven't found an unattended gas station with a cash reader... ever. I like cash -- it works when the power goes out, the computer fouls

      • they don't need the same infrastructure that a regular gas station does

        Yes, they need a completely different set of infrastructure. Starting with having an electric substation very close by...

    • by CrazyDuke (529195)

      Spend about $36.00 in 5 minutes to drive for another 350 miles or about $3.00 in 20 to drive about another 64 miles (assuming comparable subcompacts, highway miles). Keep in mind, you will spend that 5 minutes fueling at a gas station, where you can charge at home and possibly at work, play, and shopping. So, if your idle time is really valuable, or you just go on long trips frequently, you may want to keep a gas car around.

      I putter along at about 25 miles per day, with the odd 200 mile trip every few mo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:14PM (#39897823)

    Nissan advises Leaf owners to only Quick Charge twice per month. Some of the newer cars will be able to do it more frequently, possibly without any consequence over slow charging.

    Any day now, I'm expecting a lot of noise around owners who didn't RTFM and end up frying their batteries early.

    • by robot256 (1635039)
      Frequent fast charging will only be safe once we transition from conventional Li-Ion and Li-Poly batteries to a totally new chemistry like Li-Air. There is simply no way for the batteries we have now to absorb energy that quickly without overstressing the internal components. I know Ford has a fancy liquid cooling system on the Focus EV battery, but they have no fast charge port whatsoever.
    • by n8r0n (1447647) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:52PM (#39898381) Homepage

      I own a LEAF, and I've heard no such recommendation. They recommend against multiple quick charges per day, but I haven't seen anything about twice a month. You don't want to put the battery through a quick charge when the batteries are real hot, but a battery pack is not going to hold heat for multiple days. Sorry, the thermal mass isn't that high.

      Now, they do tell you that the less you quick charge, the longer your battery will last. They say that regular quick charging will leave you with 70% capacity after 8 or 10 years (I can't remember the quoted "lifetime"), and 80% capacity at "end of life" if you don't quick charge, but just use 110V trickle charging and 220V normal charging.

      That's not exactly frying your batteries early.

      Don't hold your breath on your non-RTFM scenario, dude. First of all, EV owners know the dominant strategy for charging is always going to be charging at home. Very few people are going to be doing a lot of quick charging (maybe cab drivers?). Quick charging is likely to be significantly more expensive per kWh than charging at home, and people just don't buy LEAFs if they do a lot of long-distance (100 miles+) driving. If they did, they'd but a Volt.

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        As a matter of interest, what is the LEAF like to own?

        Does it drive "just like a car"? I drive a diesel minivan with a manual gearbox, so I assume it's a lightyear away from that but I'd be interested if it was similar to an automatic car (except with none of the sluggish slushmatic non-performance).

  • lets just hope that Sony isn't supplying the batteries...

  • Whither Tesla? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johndoe42 (179131) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:17PM (#39897841)
    This is endorsed by Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Porsche and Volkswagen. Tesla is conspicuously missing. The Tesla Roadster and the Tesla Model S are the only electric cars in or near production that are close to road-trip worthy, so the omission is unfortunate.
    • Re:Whither Tesla? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:20PM (#39897859) Homepage
      I'd be much more worried about the fact that neither Honda nor Toyota are there. In fact, neither is Nissan or Kia. I'd imagine that no Asian car makers being involved could be a big problem.
    • Re:Whither Tesla? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CaptainLugnuts (2594663) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:29PM (#39897919)
      It's too late. All the Japanese manufacturers standardized on CHAdeMO [wikipedia.org] for charging.
      • Rather than fight a standards war, they'll likely adopt this for the US and European models. Having the charging infrastructure is more important than the specific charging system.

      • by Twinbee (767046)
        How does it compare technically to this one?
    • by cynyr (703126)

      So how would they retrofit the charger into their current cars. Do they even have a road map that extends 4 months let alone 5+ years it will take to roll this out?

    • by thomkt (59664)

      That's odd. It's Daimler using Tesla's batteries in their electric Smart?

    • by cvtan (752695)
      I would guess the Tesla is absent because their battery packs are made from 6000-7000 laptop batteries and can't take rapid charging. They are in "production" because they use a $40000 battery pack that no one else thought was a good idea.
  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When did Audi, BMW, Daimler AG, Porsche, and Volkswagen become American companies?

    • by robot256 (1635039) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:22PM (#39898223)

      What the J1772 CCS standard has going for it is that it's a free-license standard. (And that it can be covered by a single round "fuel cap".) All those cheapskate developing countries don't want to pay CHAdeMO royalties on every single connector they build, so once China starts producing them en masse the cost for the rest of us will come down. Unless CHAdeMO opens up its standard, it will slowly be eclipsed by the free standard.

      Or, consumers will get frustrated that they never have the right plug in the right place, and give up on L3 charging altogether, which doesn't help anyone. Really not sure how this one is going to play out.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Yeah, if we were to have a world-wide universal standard, then we could drive to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and both Americas in the same car.

  • Something just dawned on me... They have made a standard for this connection... and you're going to be trapped at the charging station for 20min... How long do you think it will take them to include a data connection along with the plug and the car companies allow them to flood your car with ads for 20min as part of the payment for the charge?
  • I was hoping to see an inductive charger similar to the one sported by the EV1.
  • Micro USB (Score:5, Funny)

    by locopuyo (1433631) on Friday May 04, 2012 @09:39PM (#39898307) Homepage
    Why can't they just use micro USB like everyone else?
  • Finally, a way to charge our laptops in a minute!
    We just have to wait for the battery packs and chargers that will appear in a year.
  • 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?

  • ...says the article.

    I should say not, given that the photo of the plug at the top of the article would obviously never fit into the photo of the socket halfway down. The accompanying plug photo in the second photo may not have the same problem (at least the two parts of the plugs don't protrude different amounts). Anyway, graphic designer fail.

    And, for a less-superficial observation, who's going to want to open two port covers on opposite corners of the socket, especially given that both are likely to be sp

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