Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Fast EV Charger Comes to the U. S.

A new “fast charger” for electric vehicles has just come on to the U. S. market, made by Fuji Electric of Japan.  I got to see the product “launch” in New Jersey a few days ago, and while it’s not my job to review chargers, I can say that this one is pretty cool.   It can fully charge a Nissan Leaf in an hour. 
What are fast chargers and why are they important?  A typical home charger can charge your EV overnight in your garage.  And that’s fine for how most EV owners use (or will use) their vehicles – local use and fairly limited miles.  But what if you have a sudden need to drive to another state?  With fast chargers installed at rest areas, for instance, a driver can “fill up” the battery while stopping for a quick lunch.  A good network of fast chargers can make EV travel viable over wide regions of the country. 
There are issues, of course, starting with cost – say, $50,000 to buy and install one.
The most annoying issue for fast chargers – in my opinion – is that there are two competing, completely incompatible technical standards.  The “CHAdeMO” standard is used by all Japanese-made EVs.  (Fuji Electric – not surprisingly since it is made in Japan – is a CHAdeMO.)  The U. S. and European carmakers are developing a different (“SAE”) standard.  Remember VHS and Betamax?  I can’t believe this is the best way to pioneer new technology.
At any rate, congratulations to Fuji Electric on entering the field in the U. S. and pushing the technology forward.  (The folks at FE say that their plan is to move some manufacturing and assembly to this country as sales permit.  We need it!)

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