Electric Car Quick Charging in Japan: It’s Nissan Versus Everybody Else

By · December 06, 2011

Japan charging schematic

Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi and four other firms have joined forces to "expand the scope of charging infrastructure" in Japan.

A couple of weeks ago, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, the Development Bank of Japan, and four power industry firms announced a new partnership to provide membership-based quick-charging services to users of electric vehicles. The idea is to dramatically increase the number of DC Quick Chargers in Japan, from the current tally of 800 quick-charge stations.

What name is missing from the partnership list? Nissan, of course. But Nissan has been releasing its own charging news—announcing in the past few weeks that it will begin selling a lower-cost smaller quick charger (for about US $10,000 in hardware) and has recently made progress with inductive charging systems. The company also plans to give away hundreds of quick chargers in Europe and the United States—as a way to jumpstart the build-out of quick charging and leapfrog other government or trade association projects to install public charging.

The organization formed by the other guys—Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, etc.—believe that their proposed membership-based service will allow owners of quick-charge stations to install chargers more quickly and recoup costs via membership fees. Station owners will be able to register their chargers in a central database and membership fees will pay a portion of the installation and maintenance costs incurred by owners of quick-charge stations.

The partnership is the result of investigations conducted by a working group formed at the request from the CHAdeMO Association to all its members in July 2010. The organization’s press release didn’t mention targets for the number of quick chargers it plans to deploy in Japan. But Nissan, with its lower cost proprietary charger and its aggressive distribution plan, aims to sell 5,000 quick charger units in the next four years.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

$10,000 for the hardware for a retail space quick charger is practically free. As EVs become more popular all kinds of retail businesses could put them in their parking lots just to bring customers in via their charger locating mapping systems. The cost of electricity that someone uses to do a quick charge is pretty small. And there are mechanisms for the retailer to charge the customer for it if needed.

Meanwhile, the customer is going to spend a half hour at the retailer's store, restuarant, or whatever.

· · 2 years ago

" . . .the customer is going to spend a half hour at the retailer's store, restuarant, or whatever."
Actually, the retailer can adjust the time spent at their location simply by adjusting the charging current.
A Starbucks or fast food place that wants people in and out quickly could provide the full 50 kW (~200 miles/hour charging speed). A shopping mall might limit free charging to 10 kW (~40 miles/hour) to keep people shopping longer. They could conceivable charge money for a 50 kW connection but provide the 10 kW for free.
There are many possible business models. It will be interesting to see which work and which don't.
Hopefully, the government will keep their ill-managed hands out of it so that the market forces can work.

· · 2 years ago

Japan already has a QC network, we can only dream about. About one QC every 15 miles.

As long as they all use CHAdeMO - different networks don't matter. All the cars can use any of the chargers.

· · 2 years ago

When I was in Japan last week, I asked anybody that I thought would know, if they've seen quick chargers with EVs using them. Not a single person said they've seen them. Maybe I was asking the wrong people, but in Tokyo, their presence is minimal (during my brief visit at least).

· Brett Owen (not verified) · 2 years ago

I think Nissan doesn't see itself in a position to need to dicker with the other car companies with it's 250k car per year production plans. It's sort of like when HD-DVD was picked as the official successor to DVD, while the installed base of bluray PS3's wiped it off the map. I don't know, just a guess.

· Brett Owen (not verified) · 2 years ago

At worst Nissan will have to mail all it's Leaf owners a $5 adapter. At best they'll collect patent royalties from every gas station on the planet. hehe :)

· · 2 years ago

Will any of this quick charging debate matter when inductive chargers are out?

· · 2 years ago

> Will any of this quick charging debate matter when inductive chargers are out? <

Wait, what? You don't mean the inductive chargers from the late 90's do you? I didn't think so. We actually learned a few things from that experience. While modern inductives will probably have their place, I don't see them taking over the world any time soon. But yes... even when/if inductive chargers DO take over the world, there is still plenty to debate. How much power? Standards? How to charge money for it. How to share the chargers... pretty much the same discussion.

· · 2 years ago

darelldd and/or ex-EV1 driver - So the two of you guys were driving around in EVs during the days of the paddle inductive charger. What did you think about it? What are the advantages/disavantages that you saw compared to a plug? I was designing my own EVs at the time, but I didn't have the chance to interact with the paddle chargers. Did they go away for a technical problem? Could it have been fixed? Or was it just happenstance?

· · 2 years ago

@alt-e -
Let me start by saying that my family still drives one of those small paddle inductive cars - every day as our main family vehicle. We have been driving one for over ten years and over 100,000 miles now - starting with the EV1, and still now with the Rav4EV. So yes, I was driving around with one back in the day... and still am! Now... to get to what you really asked...

Advantages: Nothing to bend or corrode. It looks cool and looks safe.
Disadvantages: The off-board charger is huge, heavy, expensive, proprietary. Communication must be done through IR or RF instead of mechanical connection. Inefficient compared to conductive. No way to adapt the paddle to some other plug type - so I NEED an SPI to charge my Rav. I can't build an easy adapter to plug into a J-1772. All I can do in that regard is plug a J-1772 into an adapter that gives me 240V, 30A out, and plug my giant SPI charger into that. Then the paddle into my car. Fun! Schlep 80 pounds of crap with me to charge.

We still have over 2,000 of them deployed in public locations in CA. They didn't go away, but they are slowing being taken out of service due to failure and vandalism. New ones simply aren't being made since no new cars that require them are being made. I'd type more buy my neighbor just showed up with beer.

Bye.

· · 2 years ago

Conceptually, I liked the paddle chargers. Their lack of a direct conductive connection made them very safe and easy to use. The lack of a conductive connection to high voltage give one a lot of confidence while plugging in to a public outdoor charger in the rain.
Conductive chargers require mechanical interlocks and pressure to ensure that contacts connect. They can become hard to connect as they weather.
The down side to inductive chargers is that they are quite expensive (many coils and transformers), require large charge ports, and aren't very efficient.

· Brett Owen (not verified) · 2 years ago

darelldd: Yeah I saw inductive charge support on greencarreports.com for the 2014 Leaf. It'll probably be a worthy debate for another post. hehe

Mostly are there magnetic health effects? Is it worth losing 10% on lost magnetism?

· · 2 years ago

@ Brett Owen - The old EV1/Rav4 little paddle chargers would have had the two coils close together. But the buried in the parking lot inductive charger that people are talking about now have inches inbetween the car and parking lot coils. So I think you bring up a good point. There is a lot more distance for the magnetic fields to get attached to other things. And the amount of power is so much greater then the wireless chargers for cell phones.

· · 2 years ago

@Brett -

Heath issues? That's the least of our worries. At least compared to environmental exposure, and say... gasoline exhaust. With the larger distances of "in the ground" inductive charging, the rodents and such are the ones that need to worry!

· · 2 years ago

Inductive chargers in the parking lots: instances of cancer go down in humans and up in rats.

· · 2 years ago

Probably more fried rats than rats with tumors! Could be a secondary market there. I know that in my garage, I'd get a two-fer!

· · 2 years ago

Didn't Nissan already announce a sub $5K fast charger?

· Brett (not verified) · 2 years ago

You guys have rav4 evs! Wow. Sorry to change topics again, but do you have any video reviews for them or anything?

· · 2 years ago

@JRP3 - That was with the Japanese government subsidies.

· · 2 years ago

@ Brett -

First, you should visit my site sometime: http://evnut.com

Second, here's the Rav4EV video that I did with my daughter for some contest at some point. That car is still our daily driver:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shk_JEXShzE&fmt=18

And finally, one that I did for the EV1 just before it met the crusher:
EV1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LE062OfrN4&fmt=18

· · 2 years ago

darelldd: I'll add it to the list. I guess in fairness to GM I also need to ask how many NiMh fires you've had to extinguish. hehe

· · 2 years ago

darelldd: :D You went to the 2011 SF Car show didn't you? I went there the same day. I test drove the White Leaf. I'm not quite sure what time I drove it though. I took had my brother take a 720p video from the back seat. I'll have to stick it on Youtube. I had it on Facebook for awhile, but Youtube's better. I remember trying to hear the sound of the EV motor but I couldn't hear it over the crackling of the plastic on the floor.

· · 2 years ago

I mean the Nov 2010 show, I think they called it the 2011 show though.

· · 2 years ago

@ tterbo -

Yup, that's where I first drove a Leaf. It was fun wrapping up the plastic carpet protector, wasn't it? I had the top speed on the day (I was told). Nothing like speeding in a ballroom!

· · 2 years ago

darlldd: Here's the video whenever it finishes uploading. Yeah I wished they didn't have it just for the audio. You could kind of hear the cool hiss of the motor, but not much. I've got a ton of video of the other cars standing in line, maybe I'll stick those on too. hehe

I couldn't believe how fast some of the people were driving them. They had a lot of faith in that plastic on the floor for braking. :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVCbNuCviQE

· · 2 years ago

You probably also saw the GM Volt they had there on the orbiting pedestal that had the sign in front that said, "Don't touch". I've got a picture of that. hehe

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