Monday, October 28, 2013

Low Cost Electric Fast Charging

I am excited about the Chevy Spark EV and the BMW i3 for one simple reason: they will use the new "SAE combo" standard for charging, that allows for standard AC charging as well as fast DC charging. But as I have mentioned in many posts, this transition from fossil fuels to electricity is a complex and messy process with multiple variables and changes in infrastructure, car technology and not least, consumer behavior and perceptions. So what is new in the complex chicken-and-egg story?

A Repurposed Inverter?

As the market for fast charging is in its inception, the cost of the charging stations has been extremely high, leading many to wonder how any fast-charging business model would survive scrutiny. Fast charging has to be ubiquitous in shopping areas, restaurants and movie theaters for people to change their idea of what "range" means and where they can drive without any stress.

So I was pleasantly surprised to come across Ideal Power at the Solar Power Conference that I attended last week. In essence the inverter can take 3-phase 480Vac and deliver it as DC to any car with an "SAE combo" socket, namely the two cars mentioned, and hopefully a lot more. Combined with the proper network connection to notify availability, this could prove to be the affordable solution for many small businesses.

So will this change the landscape for electric car fast charging? It is certainly a step in the right direction.


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