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Nissan Develops Quick EV Chargers

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author photo by Nick Chambers September 2011

Arguably, the Achilles heel of electric cars is the speed at which their batteries can be refilled. While it only takes minutes to refill the tank of a gas-powered car, charging the battery of a typical electric car from a standard home charging unit can take hours.

In answer to this issue, manufacturers have developed a way to quickly charge electric car batteries in a matter of minutes. Called DC Fast Charging, the method relies on gas-pump sized industrial charging units to dump massive amounts of electricity directly into the battery through a cable that more resembles a fire hose than a piece of electrical equipment.

Using these charging units, a properly equipped Nissan Leaf can add about 80 miles of range in a half an hour of charging. While that's clearly not a one-to-one parity with gas refueling times, it is certainly close enough that electric cars can become vastly more practical for a much wider range of consumers.

Fast charging infrastructure is already being deployed around the world, and at last count more than 700 of the units have been installed in Japan, Europe and the United States. However, the biggest problem to adoption is that the units require three-phase industrial power supplies and currently cost between $100,000 and $300,000 each to install.

While industrial three-phase power will always be a niggling requirement, for the better part of two years Nissan has made it a goal to drive the cost of these units down-and last year they introduced one in Japan that for less than $20,000. At the time, Nissan's North American Director of Product Planning, Mark Perry, told AutoTrader that it would only be a matter of time before the unit met UL standards in the U.S. and would be available for sale here.

While we're still waiting for the unit to go on sale in the U.S., just last week Nissan announced that the second generation of their unit would be on sale in Japan in November 2011. Not only is the new unit nearly half the size of the first generation, it also much cheaper, coming in at around $13,000. At that price, Nissan expects to sell more than 5,000 of them in Japan by early 2016.

At one-tenth the cost of current units in the U.S., Nissan has already stirred up a great deal of excitement; imagine city centers with fast charging units as commonplace as Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. There's no word yet from Nissan on when the units will make it to the U.S., but if Perry's promise from last year is anything to go on, you can be sure it will happen soon.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Nissan Develops Quick EV Chargers - Autotrader