Italy Chooses Fast AC Charging for Electric Cars at H2Roma

By · November 14, 2012

EVs test drives at H2Roma in Italy

EVs test drives at H2Roma in Italy

There were a lot of people waiting for free EV test drives at H2Roma last week. EV sales are still very low in Italy, but that might be about to change. In October, there were 53 Nissan LEAFs sold—a record number. That volume is not exactly earth-shattering news, when Fiat sold more than 12,000 Pandas in the same period. But it was the first time an electric car made more than 50 sales in a single month in Italy. The Renault Zoe which will be available next year should fare even better. But the star of the show was undeniably the little Smart Electric Drive. Italy has always been a strong market for Smart, and the electric version should be successful there as well. The manufacturer was taking orders at the show, as was Renault for its even smaller Twizy.

Enel AC 43 kW charging station

Enel AC 43 kW charging station

With most Italian cities built long before cars were invented, streets are narrow and small vehicles are desirable. So the Twizy could be a hit. With the added advantage that, at least in the Southern part of the country, its lack of windows should not be an issue. But besides those small vehicles, the biggest news from H2roma this year, was the launch of a network of fast chargers. This was long overdue. After more than two years in the making, the plan will install public fast chargers in Milan, Pisa and Rome. The surprise is that no Nissan LEAFwill be able to use them.

That's because Enel, which is behind this plan and which happens to be the largest power company in Italy, has chosen fast AC chargers: 43-kW chargers designed with the upcoming Renault Zoe in mind. The Smart Electric Drive will also be able to use them, though not at their maximum power, because the Smart's inboard charger is limited at 22 kW.

Only the Zoe, and soon all the other Renault electrics can accept 43-kW charging but it's getting clearer and clearer that the French brand is setting the pace for the rest of the industry. At least in Europe where EV fans will soon see expensive DC chargers as useless foreign technology. Buy a European electric car that works with a cheap AC charging station, or get an electric from Japan, a Mitsubishi or a Nissan, which will require an expensive DC charger. Few people will hesitate between the two, and there's pride in the fact that the European technology is much more affordable than the Japanese one.

Toyota Prius plug-in at H2Roma

Toyota Prius plug-in at H2Roma

We know pricing is an important issue for plug-ins and I was shocked to see that the plug-in Prius is 44 percent more expensive than the standard model in Italy. I guess Toyota Italia has no plans to make its plug-in Prius a sales success. Finally, there was something missing at this year H2Roma: the hydrogen cars that gave their name to the show 12 years ago. There wasn't a single one this year, but several people explained they will be back, maybe not next year, but certainly in 2014.

Comments

· Spec (not verified) · 2 years ago

Oh great . . . ANOTHER charger standard? Way to shoot yourself in the foot, EV biz!

· Fernando M (not verified) · 2 years ago

The 22 kW onboard charger of Smart cost 2.300 €

Renault ZOE onboard 3,7 kW, 7,4 kW, 11 kW, 22 kW, 43 kW cost... 150 €:

http://www.fororenaultzoe.com/index.php?topic=255.0

· · 2 years ago

Before buying any plugin car, i will hire a team dedicated to figure out where i will be able to drive the car and where i need to recharge and when i will be able to arrive at destinations. This is as much work and expenditure as preparing a flight of a boeing 747 from new york to tokyo with 380 passengers. They should sell these ev with the assist of an additionnal 2 or 3 crew members with the help of radios and computarized phones
just to be sure to make it where you are heading. Forget leisure vacation where you drive anywhere because you follow the meteo and your moods. Now you are a captain in a complicated vehicule with a dangeurous and risky planned travel.

· Iletric (not verified) · 2 years ago

Them Italians...first they put earthquake scientists on trial, and convict them, for not predicting a bad earthquake...and now THIS!

· · 2 years ago

Actually, this is a good thing. The whole business of reductive charging (which, apparently, Renault's Zoe is a variation of) seems to utilize fewer components and is lower in cost with faster charging time. Before tar and feathering it, perhaps some here should read a little more about it . . .

http://www.acpropulsion.com/products-reductive.html

From what I understand, Tesla's system is also a variation on AC Propulsion's reductive charging (or was, in the early days, before they re-engineered it to their specific requirements.) I'm guessing that the Italians thought it through with greater care than the SAE did with their Combo plug.

And gorr . . . if you buy an EV in North America, what is this grand plan you have regarding being a world traveler with it? This seams as unlikely a scenario as buying a left-hand drive gasoline car here and complaining that the steering wheel is on the wrong side for certain countries and that fuel blends in central Asia may fry the catalytic converter. If you want to travel the world in an EV, you're certainly going to have some specific challenges. But it's easier to carry around a bunch of electric adapters in the trunk than worrying about how well the gasoline was refined on the other side of the planet.

Oh, and good luck finding extra-pure compressed hydrogen in Uzbekistan for your automotive fuel cell!

· · 2 years ago

@Gorr and Ben Nead

See my post on the volvo article. We need VEHICLES. When I bought a Gas powered car I never worried about the Gas pump at the filling station. Its a secondary issue.

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

I thought this reductive thing (actually common sense, and as I've mentioned hardly patentable but US Propulsion has managed it) was not allowed for anyone except USP?

Maybe Ghosn is saying "SUE ME!!!"

· · 2 years ago

I know what you're saying, Bill. The glacial roll out of EVs is driving many of us crazy. Now that the US presidential election is over with, though, I think we'll start to see some of the action pick up.

My thoughts are that the Voltec drive train needs to be installed into a family hauler of some sort . . . a minivan, perhaps, but I know that an SUV probably have more marketability. A pure EV small (smaller than and certainly more budget-oriented than a Tesla Roadster) 2-door sports car is another I'd like to see.

Pardon me for not catching the acronym, but what is "USP" . . . University of South Philadelphia?

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

Sorry I used it in the same sentence so I thought it was obvious United States Propulsion. Everyone uses separate hardware for charging these days apparently because they're afraid of being sued by them. To me its not a patent-able idea.

When I was looking for a dvd recorder I said I want something that puts daily programs on either ram sticks or hard drives, and then if I really want to save it long term, I'll transfer it to DVD. Stores told me "we used to sell that kind of thing, but we can't anymore since TIVO sued them for violating their patents".

The whole Idea of Patent Law was that OBVIOUS ideas were never intended to be patentable. Thats why for the TESLA Model S if you want 80 amp charging you have to buy 2 BIG seperate chargers, when the facility is already in the regen circuitry. But it avoids a lawsuit.

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead

Sorry I used it in the same sentence so I thought it was obvious United States Propulsion. Everyone uses separate hardware for charging these days apparently because they're afraid of being sued by them. To me its not a patent-able idea.

When I was looking for a dvd recorder I said I want something that puts daily programs on either ram sticks or hard drives, and then if I really want to save it long term, I'll transfer it to DVD. Stores told me "we used to sell that kind of thing, but we can't anymore since TIVO sued them for violating their patents".

The whole Idea of Patent Law was that OBVIOUS ideas were never intended to be patentable. Thats why for the TESLA Model S if you want 80 amp charging you have to buy 2 BIG seperate chargers, when the facility is already in the regen circuitry. But it avoids a lawsuit.

· Steven (not verified) · 2 years ago

Is the AC 43 kW charger shown by Enel a non working sample or do they realy saying that this charger (dimensions !!) with this cable is charging 43 kW ?

I'm not aware of any certified 43 kW charging cable

BR

Steven

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Steven - 43 kw is just a bit over 50 amps for 3 phase 480 volt (277 * 3 * 50) remember that 480 volts phase to phase is 277 volts to ground. My J1772 cable at home is rated for 70 amps, this is easy.

Benjamin - did you mean AC Propulsion? I never heard of US Propulsion. And the reason Tesla does the dual 40 amp inputs is because you can park between two RV spots and pull 40 amps from each of two 50 amp RV outlets. Remember the 20% derate required for loads greater than 3 hours.

· · 2 years ago

@Anonymous

I might be to blame for that when I meant to say AC Propulsion. If the Tesla was a motorcycle, you could plug into 2 outlets at once, but on the Tesla, 2 chargers require either the J1772 adapter, or else the high pwr connector. Not sure how u would hook up 2 cords without dragging along a high power connector and then wiring your 2 cords to that.

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