Fast Charging an EV: AC/DC Questions and Renault's Answers

By · November 21, 2012

The Renault Zoe's motor

The Renault Zoe's motor, the "charger" is on top

When it comes to electricity, AC versus DC is an old battle. It dates back to the 19th century with George Westinghouse against Thomas Edison. Nikola Tesla was involved, and alternating current famously won. Nearly everything today is AC—the grid provides AC electricity and all modern electric cars have AC motors.

Even gas cars switched from DC generators to alternators 50 to 60 years ago. The conflict would be over if there wasn't a problem: it's impossible to store AC electricity. A battery can only store DC electricity, so a conversion is needed. AC to DC to charge the battery from the grid; and DC to AC from the battery to the motor to power the car. Fortunately, AC/DC or DC/AC conversion is no big deal. The real issue is how the conversion happens. Let's look at how the world's best selling EV is doing it.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan LEAF has two charging ports. One is designed for standard AC home electricity, the other one for high voltage DC. But the AC/DC distinction is misleading here because a battery can only accept DC. The difference is that with home charging, the charger and the AC/DC converter are fitted inside the car—whereas with fast charging, the charger and the AC/DC converter are outside, in the charging station. So that makes two charging ports, two chargers and two AC/DC converters. Renault has found a smarter way.

In the Renault Zoe, the French brand introduced a new technology it called the Chameleon Charger. The Zoe has one single port for charging, one single charger and one single AC/DC converter, and it accepts any current from 230V 10A 1-phase up to 400V 63A 3-phase (43 kW). Best of all, it's self adaptive.

The driver only needs to plug in, and the car will charge as fast as it can (actually, it's possible to program the process). The 3.3 or 6.6 kW charging limit between the Nissan LEAF and the Ford Focus is totally irrelevant here. The Renault's way is easier forthe driver, and it's also considerably cheaper on the infrastructure side. EVSE manufacturers who had hoped to sell thousands of expensive DC chargers in every country hate the Chameleon charger because it ruins all their business plans. But it's real. Two other car manufacturers, Smart and Volvo, have already endorsed fast AC charging, and others should follow soon (at least in Europe).

Renault Zoe with fast AC charger

Renault Zoe with fast AC charger

Smart and Volvo are doing it conventionally though, just like the Nissan LEAF, only with a 22-kW charger. Only Renault does it with a system where the charger is integrated, and part of the vehicle drive system. Some say it's not really a charger, and they're not totally wrong, so let's say it's an electronic device doing the charging job. But the more worrying thing is that several electrical engineers are dubious of the technology. American company AC Propulsion looked into it and designed a system called Reductive charger, but Renault's system is different, safer, more robust and better in every way. Most notably, it's much stronger with the ability to sustain 43-kW charging. It's also new technology, fully owned and patented by Renault. And yet, quite surprisingly, I've been told Renault would be very open to the idea of sharing it with other car manufacturers. The Renault-Nissan alliance has invested more than any other brand in EV tech, and they just want the electric car to succeed.

Italy has been convinced, and fast AC chargers are being installed in the country now. It may be too early to dump all the DC chargers we have today, but more and more people are betting that AC will prevail because of its lower cost. An AC fast charging station is only a quarter of the price of a DC one. Few bean counters will hesitate between the two.

Back to the electric car, their specifications sheet used to list many separate elements: a motor, inverter, charger, AC/DC converter, DC/DC converter, etc. If the Renault Zoe shows the way (and I think it does), there will be fewer elements in the future. Things will be more integrated with one component able to have several functions.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

@Laurent J. Masson,
I think you've missed a key point that has been argued over the past 20 years or so about when DC -vs- AC charging makes most sense.
The AC/DC converter generally takes a large transformer or inductor. These get heavier and more expensive as they have to handle more current. Larger ones (~50 kW and higher) are relatively heavy and expensive compared to other systems in an automobile so there is motivation not to have to carry this onboard.
Also, it isn't clear that these large systems will be needed very often since, 3 - 6 kW seems to be sufficient for most people's daily use.
Therefore, it seems to make sense to locate the heavy, expensive AC/DC converters required for fast charging, outside the vehicle so the car doesn't have to carry the weight and the cost can be shared by many intermittent users.
Since slow charging will likely be done every day by all EVs, it makes sense for all EVs to carry their own small charger for use at home and at work. There are, of course, some who have argued that all of the AC/DC conversion should be done off-board so that the cars don't have to carry that weight at all.
AC Propulsion's "Reductive" charging uses the wire coil in the motor as the transformer/inductor so that the car did not have to carry these as extra components. You're right that there are some safety issues with this approach.

· · 2 years ago

Very interesting, Thanks Laurent and I especially liked all the photos.

Problem for the US market is AC Propulsion will SUE anyone trying to do that here... Yes I understand that, since the car has to have regeneration anyway, why are we duplicating hardware when it already exists? Several "Generalists" have asked why we don't do this automatically, and, its an OBVIOUS, very reasonable question.

Answer: Because they'll be tied up in Law Court.

Tesla, having to date the largest batteries and most powerful electric motors out there, uses substantially one or for $1500 more (and even this ignores how you are going to get the juice to the side of the car), TWO seemingly redundant chargers to work, on ostensibly the most modern call going (MT's Car of the Year). They do this "somewhat silly " thing because they don't want to be Sucked Dry by AC Propulsion who has the patent. I've said before this idea isn't patentable since its so obvious as mentioned. But Tivo has patents on trivially obvious things also. So we have to work with the Hand of Cards that we've been dealt.

Another USA issue is Your fast charger Juice (63A, 230Y/400 3 phase),nor the American or Canadian Analogue, is not that common around here. Granted a small easily solvable problem.. But it is another straw for the Camel's Back.

· Fernando M (not verified) · 2 years ago

"EVSE manufacturers who had hoped to sell thousands of expensive DC chargers in every country hate the Chameleon charger because it ruins all their business plans."

Absolutly true. I had a funny "fight" about ZOE charger with someone of that industry in a spanish blog.

· Fernando M (not verified) · 2 years ago

ex-EV1 driver,

Heavy? Do you know ZOE weight?

Expensive? 150 €.

· · 2 years ago

What do you do if you want to charge it with solar power. Solar is dc, so from dc to ac then ac to dc and then from the dc battery to ac motors for the wheels. All that works but sadly the leaf, the tesla, project better place, the volt, the roadster, tesla model s, imiev, toyota rav4 ev, renauld fluence, spark ev, prius plug-in, ford c max energi plug-in, golf carts, via motor plug in, bright automotiv, coda hybrid plug-in, lighthing motorcycles, ttx/gp serie, volvo plug-in, bmw mini electric, byd plug-in, kleenspeed kar gt, fisker karma plug-in, chademo chargers, sae 110, 240 volts, 440 volts j1772, honda fit ev, focus ev, mahindra neva nxr, tesla superchargers, formula e, renauld twizzy, all have a different incompatible recharging standards.

· · 2 years ago

@Gorr

Its even worse than you mention due to that horrid J1772 standard which looks like we have to live with for decades to come. Even when the hardware matches, the car and charger dock don't due to this horiddly written, non-standard Standard.

· · 2 years ago

@Fernando M

I usually don't like to directly disagree with someone, but I'll agree with you that the transformers in current ONBOARDCHARGERS (OBC's) usually operate ultrasonically, and the requisite transfomer has little Iron in it due to the high frequency. Therefore, agreed with your point that the weight (and cost) is LOW.

· Fernando M (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Bill

Read this, is interesting:

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/11081-AC-vs-DC-fast-charge

· · 2 years ago

@Fernando M,
Although there might be alternatives, all of the large DC Fast chargers I've seen have large coils that weigh hundreds of kg and cost thousands of $ (or Euro).
I'm not accepting euro150 for the 43kW Zoe onboard charger. It would be great if that were true but I can't believe that price. Its way too low. That could be the cost of the connector in low quantity production.

· · 2 years ago

Thanks very much, Laurent, for what is the best explanation I've read so far regarding the Renault charging system . . . and to other here for commenting and providing clarity on certain points.

gorr asks . . . "What do you do if you want to charge it with solar power? Solar is dc, so from dc to ac then ac to dc and then from the dc battery to ac motors for the wheels. All that works but, sadly, all have a different incompatible recharging standards."

It's true, gorr, that there are a variety of different EV charging standards out there and this is a source of ongoing frustration (sounds as if Renault really has it well thought out, though) and, yes, there are typically multiple DC-to-AC and AC-to-DC conversions going on between charger and rotating motor, whoever's system you're examining . . . but a little clarity, perhaps regarding solar PV.

Yes, solar PV is DC. In it's purest form, those panels would be directly charging a bank of stationary batteries, probably either 12V or 24V. Those batteries would be powering devices in a small home . . . lights, refrigerators, etc. All those devices would have be 12 or 24V DC in nature. This was how it was done in the early days of solar . . . completely autonomous and off the grid. Trouble is, you were totally dependent on having those panels collect enough sunlight-generated electricity to keep those batteries charged and the you had to be frugal enough not to run them down before the sun came up again. These off grid PV systems can still be found in remote and rural areas, where power lines simply don't run.

Almost all urban residential solar PV installations today, however, tie the DC output of the panels to the pre-existing AC fuse/breaker box by way of an inverter . . . hence, a grid-tied system. It's possible to employ banks of backup batteries, but most grid-tied PV systems dispense with this. You are, thus, dependent on power coming into the house from your power utility. So, even if you have massive numbers of PV panels on your roof - and you're operating a grid-tied system with no battery backup - a power outage will take away all your electricity until the problems are attended to by the utility company.

The flip side of this, though, is that under more typical circumstances, you may producing more electricity with your panels than you are using at any given moment. You then have an opportunity to "sell back" the electricity you make to your utility company. Also . . . all the devices in your house can be just like any other modern residence: AC powered. You don't have to worry about sourcing specialized "off grid" 12 or 24V television sets, light bulbs and the like.

Think of a grid-tied home PV system as a sort of Plug-in EV, like a Chevy Volt. On a sunny days, your power will be almost exclusively generated by what your panels are putting out. But the "gasoline" automatically kicks in when it's cloudy or rainy. You then start getting most (or all) of your power from what's coming in from the grid.

Getting this discussion back to EV charging from your solar PV panels: It would require a very large array of panels and consistently sunny weather to do this with an off grid system. I don't know of many off-grid homeowners who are also EV owners. An urban home owner with a slightly smaller panel array that's tied to the grid, though, can comfortably plug in the EV with confidence that charging the car - even if the sun isn't shining at that particular moment - is probably going to be possible. Indeed, that EV charging scenario might be happening at night. The next day, which might be particularly sunny, might find the homeowner back to generating more PV-generated power than he's using. This offsets what was used to charge the EV the night before.

· · 2 years ago

@gorr - Presumably you would not have solar panels *just* for charging and absolutely nothing else. They would almost certainly be grid-tied except in very special circumstances... so you already have your inverter as part of the system.

For directly charging off of solar panels, you'd need a DC-DC converter anyway since the voltage coming off of the panel array is likely not what your car's battery needs. A DC-DC converter is typically, internally, a DC-AC-DC converter... nothing gained there either.

· · 2 years ago

@Fernando M

Not to seem dumb but I'm not sure what point they were trying to make by the link. The 20 kw (that's a bit of a dream since its only at 250 volts, uncommon here. 19.2 kw @ 240 (still rare to be that much at 80 amp drain), and a more reasonable 16 kw @ 200 volts for commercial installations), is not considered by Tesla S to be a fast charge.. Its still a slow "level 2" charge by their standards.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

It is "funny" how peopel still argue with AC and DC chargers. At the end, the battery can only take in DC current. So, I am surprised that it is such a big deal at this point.

As far as cost and weight go, it is also silly to argue over it. Most EV's controllers can handle about 100KW b/c the drive system. Many of the EVs use AC induction multi-phase motors which will require a high powered DC to AC converter and controller. If they can make it compact and cheap, then they can make a AC to DC converter compact and cheap. With power electronic and switching technology, there is NO point to use those large transformers anymore.

What I am surprised is the fact that NO EVSE maker has came out with an "universal" EVSE that can take in any input A/C power range. After all, the EVSE is nothing more than a fancy extension cord plug GFCI. All the power handling are inside the car. And I don't see a reason why the car can't handle a higher powered AC since all it does is to convert it to DC. Since most of the DC battery packs are over 300V, it is actually beneficial to have higher voltage AC. But for most power electronic designer, it is no big deal.

The only down side is "efficiency" during charging since the wider input range will add cost and complexity to achieve similar efficiency. Also, it will be harder to have higher reliability since the derating is much harder at higher power than lower power.

· · 2 years ago

@Modern Marvel Fan

"....What I am surprised is the fact that NO EVSE maker has came out with an "universal" EVSE that can take in any input A/C power range. ..."

The GE DuraStation (by far the most popular EVSE in WNY) has a 30 ampere output at anything from 104-125, and 190-255 volts (the control transformer in the unit must be set for either range). But I think you'll agree this is a pretty wide range. What I don't understand is home come VEHICLE onboarchargers don't accept 277 volts. Maybe because its only available in the US and Mexico?

· · 2 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver

I'm not missing that point, because it's no longer much relevant. The AC/DC converter in the Zoe is very small, and I've been told it's very light too. I haven't looked closely at the electric Focus (6.6 kW charger), but I bet Renault's charger is not much larger or heavier. I note that fast DC chargers have been getting smaller too. The main advantage is probably on the infrastructure side though. We have all been waiting for thousands of charging stations everywhere, but they didn't appear. So slashing their prices is the best thing to do.

An AC 43 kW charging station cost only a quarter of the price of a DC 50 kW station, that's the real big change.

For those who have solar panels, I understand there is a loss in the DC/AC then AC/DC conversion, but you're rarely at home at midday...

· · 2 years ago

They should figure out one standard for every electric plug-in cars sold in north-america.
As of yet this is not done and it apear as some electric cars are introduce on the market that it add many different recharging standards. I won't buy any electric plugin car till there is just one recharging standard.

Tesla is building free superchargers that are incompatible with even their smallest battery cars. they will lose almost a billion dollar and few will utilize them , this compagny is in danger to go bankrupt anytime.

Please follow the easiest route. The electric grid is 110 volt ac and then is move up with 110 volts increment to 220 volt ac, 330 volt ac, 440 ac, etc, up to 750 000 volts ac in the highest of electric lines. So you just have to plug ac voltage to the car and the charger is inside the car already adapted to all the circuitry of the car. for fast charging 440 volts ac directly pluggued to the car seam a very good efficiency.

Please scrapp any fast chargers already installed or on their way to be installed like the new sae protocol, chademo, tesla supercharger, etc. Use a simple electric wire that come from the grid and plug it directly into the electric car where the charger is inside.
That cost way less as if 5 electric car show-up in the future at the same time into a fast recharging station, all it will take for the station is just 5 ac 440 volts 60 hertz electric wires. That cost 40 time less then 5 superchargers or 5 sae chargers or chademo.

· · 2 years ago

I can say with a certain amount of confidence, gorr, that every plug-in electric car sold in the US today (and, presumably, every one ever made for the market over the past century) is 120V AC compatible.

Interestingly, gasoline has changed. If you happen to have a blend that would have worked well in our grandfather's Model Ts, it would quickly rot the catalytic converters in today's cars. So . . . 120V AC is the most consistent and long-lived "automobile fuel" standard for the North American market yet invented.

Anything headed to this market right now is also 240V AC compatible via the basic J1772 Level 2 plug. It's when we get to the DC fast charging that we have multiple and incompatible standards.

Although the exact date has been a bit of a moving target all this fall, Arizona-based GoE3 is set to unveil a fast charge station before the end of 2012 at the Shell station in Picacho Peak, which is about midway between Tucson and Phoenix along I-10. This will be the first such unit in southern Arizona. I'll post an exact date on this blog when the date is official.

The construction of these GoE3 EVSEs are modular. They will have multiple plugs on each EVSE that will serve all current (Tesla and CHAdeMO) and upcoming (SAE J1772 Combo) fast charge standards for the North American market.

As the market matures and we possibly see some of these standards go away, GoE3 can send their technicians (contracted through Eaton, I believe) on site to pop in a new modules and quickly retrofit the units to what is most current. The upgrade process, apparently, takes a qualified technician just minutes to do.

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

Glad someone is finally thinking longterm about minimizing numbers of different standards. I dont like the combo J1772 thing since it apparently uses different wires for either Ac or Dc and therefore one pair is always unused. This makes the cable heavier than it need be.

My own 150 kw fast charger Idea (2 # 4, 1#8 formed in an outer shield, and 2 # 18 controls) is probably the heaviest most small women would want to deal with assuming a 25 foot cord.

· · 2 years ago

@Gorr
Since the 750Kv Lines have a habit of setting barn roofs on fire, maybe we could rig up something to provide a free charger for farms :)

· Martin WINLOW (not verified) · 2 years ago

@ Laurent J. Masson

A very nicely written piece describing where we are with EV charging, thank you.

@ Bill Howland

'Most small women'... I'm guessing you are not a 'small man' or you would know that having different sexual reproductive organs doesn't make any difference to your ability to heft a cable or anything else for that matter. Welcome to the 21st century!

Unfortunately, I think everyone has missed the point which is that 43kW is not enough power for a 'fast charge' as it would still take at least an hour to re-fuel any EV with enough range to be an acceptable replacement for a ICEV. By that I mean an endurance of at least 2 hours at highway speeds. Driving for 2 hours with a 30 minute stop is to my mind an acceptable concession to making the swap to an EV dominated personal transport scene. Hanging around for an hour or more is not.

Therefore Tesla has the right idea with their (free) 90 - 120kW Supercharger Network and every one else is flopping about in their wake.

That said, EVs with relatively small packs - 20kW or so - are still an important and perfectly acceptable answer to most city based vehicles, including delivery ones, as well as those used mainly for commuting, school runs and shopping.

I think the Zoe will fill this niche particularly well and will be a serious contender for the top selling EV in a few months time. The charging side of things can sort itself out over time. There are far too many variables involved to call it now.

· · 2 years ago

43 kW wasn't chosen by chance. 400V 63A 3-phase is some kind of a standard for relays exchange in Europe, so it's widely available and building the network won't cost a fortune. Then we expect thousands of charging stations, so they have to be grid manageable. But hardly anyone sees the electric car as a viable option for long distance travel, even with 100 kW chargers.

· · 2 years ago

@Martin Winlow

Ok man, this is taking political correctness to a bit too much of an extreme. I in no way denegrate women by saying there is such a person. On another blog someone used such a woman as a typical example of why what I wanted to do was impossible. Incidentally, since the US General Electric Company is actively marketing the 3 phase 400 volt 32 amp DuraStations all over the UK and is offering no remotely similar products (other than 100% single phase) for the North American market, obviously there are EV's available in this market that can utilize it (there are *NONE* in the North American market) all your information given to date regarding no 3 phase being available has therefore ostensibly been incorrect.

· Herm (not verified) · 2 years ago

The AC Propulsion patent is for an onboard charger that re-uses the motor inverter.. I believe the Zoe is using a separate charger (the top unit in the picture) to generate the 400V DC from the external 3 phase 400V AC supply. I like the AC fast charging system.. just put a couple of charging stations outside an electric substation and you are set.. large cities usually have hundreds of those.

· Martin WINLOW (not verified) · 2 years ago

@ Bill - It was not my intention to upset you and I apologise if I did. I was merely trying to point out that your 'small woman' comment is condescending to females and a classic sexist comment that as, an intelligent chap, you should have realised when you wrote it. Enough said.

@ Laurent - "I'm waiting for an electric car which would be as good as the best ICE cars, and I've found it with the Nissan Leaf." Does this sound familiar? It should as they are your words. This does not square with your comment "But hardly anyone sees the electric car as a viable option for long distance travel, even with 100 kW chargers.' ... or do you mean that you disagree with the idea that 'EVs' are not long distance travel viable? Depending on one's definition of 'long distance', I think they are perfectly capable even with the technology we have today BUT to be so they do need a national network of fast chargers with at least a 80kW output.

In US terms long distance travel with anything but a Tesla and using the Supercharger Network probably is not viable. For this, as well as trans-Europe travel, I would prefer to see a Motorail-type service re-appear, running on high speed train networks (125-250mph) so you can take your car with you.

I accept your comments about the 400V 63A 3p supplies being everywhere over here (in Europe) and I expect that will have to do for the time being... until Tesla prove otherwise (hopefully), of course! This will mean driving at 70mph or so for an hour and stopping for half an hour but it is still just about practical - certainly for the UK, at least.

· · 2 years ago

@Martin WINLOW
Well, it's quite easy. I have a diesel compact sedan parked in front of the house, it has a 700 miles range. There's no doubt an EV is perfect for my daily needs, but if I have a long trip to do, I would not hesitate a single second and get inside my diesel.

I'll keep my diesel a long time, but I think about getting an electric Smart.

· · 2 years ago

I think the current state of technology means that a 100% EV is not going to meet the needs of most Americans as an *only vehicle*. However most American households have multiple vehicles, and as a second or third vehicle a 100% EV works perfect. Drive the EV on all the local trips around town, and use the ICE for road trips...

There are a few families who can make an EV work as an only car, and if a family doesn't do a lot of road trips - they can always rent a car when they do need the long range occasionally.

But right now, EVs make perfect sense if they can be used as the around the city car...

· · 2 years ago

"I think the current state of technology means that a 100% EV is not going to meet the needs of most Americans as an *only vehicle*."

Perhaps, but there are plenty of ways around that if you really want to drive electric. I have friends that have only one car and it's electric, and one friend that has two cars which are both electric. They either rent a car for the few times a year they need more range or they join a car sharing service like ZipCar and simply pick up a car on demand when they need to.

BMW is also adding a new service next year when they launch their i brand of plug in cars. If you buy an i3 and find you need to take a long trip you can go to your BMW dealer and they will rent you a gas BMW for the time you need it whether it be a day or a week for a vacation. The cars will be available at a very competitive rate, meaning they aren't going to soak you for renting a 5 series or whatever you need for a week.

So there are ways to get around it if you really want to drive electric and you only have one car.

· · 2 years ago

@Martin Winlow

That was what we'd call here a left handed apology. There was no sexist remark made, period. There was nothing in the slightest condescending about any statement I've made. Why this is important is we shouldn't 'train' people in politically correct speech.

I'm of Brtitish Extraction, but Britain is pretty far gone. I at one time listened to the BBC, and find almost all the presenters Insulting and boorish, and in general much too self-important. Like the USA, there is almost no investigative journalism going on, and all your polititians have sold out, as have ours. We have little Freedom of Speech left, (you have less), and our Constitution has been allowed to become pretty much a Dead-Letter.

I don't comment on this much, but as regards EV's it looks like fewer and fewer of us Americans are going to be able to afford them. The Deindustrialization of the United States is Continuing, which is a crying shame since Wealth is generated on the factory floor. The current energy boom in the US will at least retard the economic decline by 5 - 10 years.

. The news of all the layoffs at Boeing was basically sequestered until after our election. Not so surprisingly, Russia Today, RT.COM does a better job reporting the state of our cities than our own Lame Stream Media, although Frontline and the BBC did pick up an independently produced film on "Poor Kids", which is a microcosm of our future 3rd worldism.

So, no offense Mr. Winlow, I'm going to keep talking in the manner I'm talking. I talk this way to encourage other casual viewers of PlugInCars.com to continue to be UNAFRAID of speaking their minds. Liberty is rather like a muscle. If you don't use it you lose it. We don't have much left, so its time to get exercising.

· · 2 years ago

In an attempt to move this conversation beyond accusations of gender stereotyping and/or the purported failings of various nationalities and allegations of insidious attacks on our collective personal liberties coming from unmarked black helicopters hovering overhead at night . . .

I came across a rather novel proposal for an American-sourced EV that mirrors some of the Renault Zoe's marketing techniques. Specifically: the idea of buying the car, but continually renting the battery.

A California-based company, KleenSpeed, is proposing to sell an EV in the $10K range (super cheap,) but continually rent the very large battery pack - something on the order of 40kW - for $175 monthly. The resulting package is a subcompact that has a range of 150 miles per charge and with acceleration specifications that would have it at least keeping up with a Tesla.

It's been recently documented here, where I submitted a comment expressing my mixed feelings about the idea . . .

http://www.torquenews.com/1075/kleenspeeds-kar-could-storm-electric-car-...

Anyone else here heard of the KleenSpeed KAR?

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

We're friends but please don't trivialize a serious subject. If I can put up with your Global Warming statements you can put up with my Liberty ones.

The Black Helicopters are all in Austin, Tx for Formula One.

· · 2 years ago

@Tom Moloughney

It's already exists in Europe, you buy a small EV, and you can go back to the dealer to rent a minivan for the occasional long trip. It's a solution that suits many people, and it's very affordable.

· Bret (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Benjamin,

The KleenSpeed Kar doesn't look all that exciting to me. When you can lease a LEAF or a Volt for $250 per month, it doesn't make much sense to pay $10K, then rent a battery for $175.

· · 2 years ago

That's pretty much the conclusion I came to, Bret. As I commented on that page, I'd rather see them sell the car with the battery included and try to hit a price point at under $20K. KleenSpeed also wants to provide a 150 mile range and acceleration to rival a Tesla. Well, great. But is this what we really need in a proverbial EV equivalent to a Model T or old school VW Beetle?

As I said there, the danger is that it's trying too hard to be all things to all people. It's a tiny vehicle with longish range. But wouldn't you want more passenger and cargo space for a car that you would want to take on the highway regularly? The race car performance is impressive. But wouldn't that performance be a better fit in a low slung sporty 2-door?

If they could fit a smaller battery (included, not rented) that would equal the Leaf's range, then they would satisfy range requirements for that market . . . and for considerably less money than the Leaf. If they are already able to offer just the body/drivetrain for $10K, couldn't they offer an 18kW battery for just $7K or $8K more? This would make it the first under $20K EV. Detune the motor and save a little more money. They don't need to make it into a snail. But a 4-door econo-car also doesn't need quarter mile speeds in the 6 second range to get on the freeway safely.

And, as with the Zoe (which is why I brought up the KAR,) anyone offering a battery-less EV is going to have to be very careful setting a price point to make the necessity of renting the battery attractive.

· GasKilla (not verified) · 2 years ago

I'm leasing a Nissan Leaf and was told by my dealer I have 10 days of free gas car rental anytime I need it for road trips. I'm not sure if this is dealer specific or nationwide, either way it is a nice perk.

· BeLEAFer (not verified) · 2 years ago

I must be missing something here. Since even the "DC quick chargers" get their electricity from the utilities as AC, then there MUST be an AC->DC conversion happening regardless of the technology. So the question becomes - where to locate that conversion - in the vehicle or in the roadside unit?

Yes, in the first case the cost of the roadside unit goes down, but the cost of the vehicle goes up, since the inverter must be in the vehicle, which also adds weight (and therefore decreases range).

So to me it makes much more sense to locate the inverter in the roadside unit. Any additional costs to the owner will be amortized over the life of the unit by (slightly) increased usage fees. And doesn't it make more sense to have 100,000 inverters in roadside units rather than 1,000,000+ units in vehicles?

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  1. Electric Cars Pros and Cons
    EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
  2. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  3. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  4. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
    If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
  6. Electric Vehicle Charging for Businesses
    How do you ensure that electric car owners will be happy with every visit to your charging spot?
  7. How to Use the PlugShare EV Charging Station Tool
    Locate EV charging stations and optimize their use with a powerful mobile app.
  8. Quick Charging of Electric Cars
    Add 50 to 60 miles of range in about 20 minutes. Here's how.
  9. The Real Price of EV Public Charging
    Compare the cost of charging on the road to what you pay at home.
  10. Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
    Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.