Quick-Charging Plus Better Batteries Equals Mainstream Electric Cars

By · September 13, 2011

Nissan quick charger

Nissan chief vehicle engineer Hidetoshi Kadota demonstrates how to charge a Nissan LEAF using the company's new quick-charger.

Nissan Quick Charger for electric cars

Nissan's new quick-charger unit.

The entire shape of the automotive landscape could change with a small shift in technology. It happened 100 years ago, when the advent of the self-starter ushered in the age of internal combustion—and killed electric cars. Now, a low-cost quick charger, capable of adding as much as 100 miles of range in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee, could mean the birth of mainstream all-electric cars.

Nissan Motor Co. said yesterday that it will offer a new electric car quick-charger—resembling a gas-station pump—for around $13,000. That’s less than half of the cost of the current charger. So-called quick-chargers provide a jolt of 480 volts, filling an EV’s battery pack to around 80 percent of its capacity in approximately 20 minutes.

Today’s all-electric cars commonly provide a total driving range of 80 to 100 miles, but battery engineers are working on next-generation technology that could mean 150 or 200 miles of range for a similar cost. If combined with more affordable quick-chargers, the extended driving range of electric vehicles could greatly expand the desirability of gas-free EVs to mainstream car buyers.

"The newly developed quick charging unit retains the high performance of the current quick charger manufactured by Nissan, but is nearly half the size by volume," the company said in a statement. "The new charger unit's smaller size will take up less space and enable easier installation."

Nissan is not the only company endeavoring to make quick charging a practical and affordable option. “I’m being told by equipment vendors that I should be able to get a DC fast charger for between $18,000 and $25,000,” said Michael Farkas, chief executive of Car Charging Group, in an interview with PluginCars.com. “The sweet spot for DC fast charging is around $12,000 to $15,000.”

Cost Curves

Car Charging Group is one of a breed of new companies that owns and operates electric car charging services for large retail outlets, such as Walgreens and the Mall of America. Farkas said that the cost of the first 110-volt chargers was around $6,000, but in the past few years, the cost has dropped in half for a charger that has roughly four times the capability. “We’re riding down the cost curves,” Farkas told PluginCars.com.

Meanwhile, car companies are working to reduce the cost and extend the range of battery packs. We continue to track rumors that Nissan’s next electric car models will approximately double the range of its current model, the Nissan LEAF, which offers between 80 and 100 miles—depending on a number of driving factors. Other carmakers, including Tesla, Coda and BYD, are trying to push the envelope of driving range well beyond 100 miles—to 300 miles or more.

The real impact of more affordable quick-chargers on market adoption of electric cars remains to be seen. Yet, an even simpler invention—the automobile self-starter—had a seismic impact on cars in 1913, according to historians. In the decade prior to the advent of the self-starter, the car market was divided between electric cars, steamers and internal combustion gas cars. Electric cars had the edge, because they lacked the noise and stink of gas-powered vehicles. But self-starters made it dramatically easier for drivers to start gas engines. As a result, in 1913, sales of electric cars dropped to 6,000 vehicles, while Ford sold more than 200,000 Model T gasoline cars.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

Considering the cost today for 75 miles worth of batteries is about $10,000, if the price of a fast charger is only that same price, it could make sense for people to simply sponsor a fast charger where they want to be able to charge, instead of shelling the money out for more batteries in their own car. It wouldn't take very many people to comprehend this to really open up the capability of even short-range EVs such as the Leaf.

· Max Reid (not verified) · 3 years ago

OOOOOO, I already feel that I am in Electric Land. I thought a fast EV charger with 480 Volts costs $60,000 +. At just $13,000 its very affordable.

For $13 million, we can install 1,000 such chargers and for $1.3 billion, we can install 100,000 chargers which is almost the same as # of gas stations.

Lets install this in every Parking Lot, Mall, Post Office, Library, School, Govt Office, Grocery store, etc. People will naturally buy EVs.

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

Nissan said in an interview that they expect future versions to be in the $3000 - $4000 range.

· Henrik2 (not verified) · 3 years ago

There is an informative press section with Nissan where they report that they expect to cut the price of their 50kW charger to 3000 to 4000 USD (most likely an indoor version).

To quote: “Now, there are other things we can do. We have a program right now putting in-house built quick chargers. What does that do? Well, that for example reduces the price point of a quick charger. Today, a quick charger is probably $40,000-$50,000. We're doing it in-house and think we can get it down to $3,000-$4,000. It changes the paradigm completely. It introduces some competition outside, but also allows you to go to the governments and say: 'We can donate or sell you some quick chargers but you have to be committed to having the parking space connecting to the electrical supply.' It allows us to be a little bit more aggressive in our relationships with governments, utilities, telecommunication companies, etc.”

http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/REPORTS/2011/09/110905.html

So what is the business case for a 50kW quick charger?

Assume an outdoor version can be made for 5000 USD and installation cost adds another 10000 USD so total cost is 15000 USD for an installed charger.

One charger should be able to charge 8 cars per day with 20 kWh each. That is 4 hours of effective charger use per day. The charger could bill drivers not for electricity but for the time you are connected to the fast charger so that you have an incentive to unplug and move your car as soon as your charge is finished.

Assume you are billed 20 cents per minute you are plugged in that gives 6 USD for 30 minutes or 20 kWh costing 30 cents each. If the owner of the charger pays the utility 10 cents per kWh then the quick charger can make a profit of 11680 USD per year (=(0.3-0.1)*20*8*365). Even assuming a high 3000 USD per year in maintenance the charger can pay for its installation and maintenance in about 2 years time.

Now, if Nissan could do a 90kW charger so you could charge 20kWh or about 100 miles in 15 minutes and also maintain the mentioned prices that would reduce the payback time for the installed charger to only 12 months. I think it is realistic to expect that the Leaf will come with a 90kW charging option by the time the next generation Leaf hits the market sometime in 2016.

There is a new 90kW international charging standard in circulation right now for approval. See link below.

90kW charging
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/08/sae-20110811.html

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

@Henrik2

12 months seems very little. I hope these companies will try to keep prices reasonably low.

· EvDriver (not verified) · 3 years ago

Who is really going to use a quick charger tho? it will cost more to charge with one, it will shorten your battery life and charging at home works so well! combine that with public transit for long trips and car share programs for longer trips that require personal vehicles, that money spent on quick chargers that are only going to be used a few times before they become outdated and replaced could instead be used to improve public transit and allow you to charge your batteries slower so that they might last the life of the car.

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

@EvDriver > "Who is really going to use a quick charger tho?"

Everyone, we'll all have pure EVs in the future and we'll use DC fast chargers when we make longer trips. Why the question? :)

· william edwards (not verified) · 3 years ago

@EvDriver > "Who is really going to use a quick charger tho?"

The quick charger moves persons who were thinking of a PHEV to an EV since they can charge while in route to a further destination. Should also help bring EVs to the taxi companies too.

· Henrik2 (not verified) · 3 years ago

I might add that widespread availability of 90kW chargers appears to be the only economically viable solution to range anxiety and electric mobility. The fact is that a 100 miles BEV like the Leaf is less costly to manufacture than a 40 miles PHEV like the Volt. 40 miles PHEVs are too expensive for mainstream. Larger batteries with more range are not a viable solution either for most people because it also makes the BEVs too expensive. Tesla’s Model S is a good example. The 300 miles version will cost 20,000 USD more than the 160 miles version. For EVs to go mainstream they need to be affordable and useful in all situations even in the long-distance drive and this is most likely done by widespread availability of 90kW chargers. If Nissan/Renault can offer cars and charges at 90kw by 2016 I am convinced they will easily reach their stated goal that 10% of vehicles sold should be BEVs by 2020.

· · 3 years ago

There it is! Looks like a gas pump with similar controls and "fuel line". Best charger I've seen so far.
Designs like this will make the transition to EVs easier. Nice job Nissan.

· · 3 years ago

The barrier to entry for Quick Charging seems to have moved from purchase cost to operating cost. The utility infrastructure behind the charger shows up in “Demand” charges that rise with peak power. Unless the unit is located for almost constant use, cost to operate could push charging prices over $2/kWh. Interest seems to evaporate for a $40 quick charge. Without cheap power storage, Quick Charge seems destine to struggle with return on investment issues.

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

@KeiJidosha > "Unless the unit is located for almost constant use, cost to operate could push charging prices over $2/kWh."

Operating costs for flowing electrons? Just kidding. I thought someone would come up with how huge the installation costs would be. So what is your calculation based on, do you have a source ref?

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

Here is a calculation of how much we might be able to afford if the whole fleet is electric: Let's say we allow $10 per month per car, there are about 250 Mill. cars, and for a full fleet we would have 1 Million DC fast chargers (which is really a lot, probably much more than we need), then this would allow for costs of $2500 per month per fast-charger.

· Nick F (not verified) · 3 years ago

It might be a better idea for them to keep the 100 miles or maybe make it 125miles, but lower the cost of the car. they could then add some money to each car to pay for part of a fast charger. Lets say there are 10 cars in some area of San Francisco. Each owner pays for a tenth of a charger in their locality. If you rolled out the cars in regions (which they are basically doing at the moment) you could get the owners to pay for their own charge network. It would make sense to base where you put in the chargers to where the actual cars are. If there was a fee for a charger as part of the cost of a car then there would be this geographic linkage. It's pretty stupid putting a load of level 2 chargers that no one will use in regions with no electric cars.

· EvDriver (not verified) · 3 years ago

The problem that I see is that a fast charger is going to put more wear on your battery pack then anything else you could every do to it, so as a buyer of used cars, and owner of two used electric cars, with an EV has my main mode of transportation, I would never buy a used EV that I thought had been quick charged, just like I would never buy a car from a teenager who wanted to be a race car driver, because you know that that car is going to have been put under a great deal of stress and that you are going to spend more on repairs or in the case of an EV the battery pack is going to have been stressed and is going to have a shorter life.
The Leaf Owners Manual goes a decent job telling you what will shorten the battery life and what you can do to make it last longer, slow charges to 80% and the battery pack should last the longest and with most people not driving the full range of the EV that seams like the direction we should be looking at, not a fast charger in every drive way.

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

While the battery pack might last the longest if you don't use it at all, Nissan has also said that you'll see an effect of fast charging only if you fast-charge several times every day for many years. If you have an EV which has enough range for your daily driving, then additional long trips with fast charging should be fine. Staying at 80% or 90% is an advantage in any case. But with the huge improvement which pure EVs are for our future, and the need to create a new market which allows longer-lasting batteries in the future, we shouldn't be too concerned with a percent or two over many years. Don't tell me you suggest that's a reason to buy a hybrid instead, because for many that would be the only alternative.

· EvDriver (not verified) · 3 years ago

@Norbert "Don't tell me you suggest that's a reason to buy a hybrid instead, because for many that would be the only alternative."

The best "Alternative" is good public transportation and for a lot of us that would be better train and bus systems that allow us to make those longer trips, after all driving a new gasoline car ends up having a total cost of 50 cents per mile or more! why would I do a road trip in a vehicle that is costing me that much to drive per mile? electric cars also have a total cost per mile that needs to be looked at, it's not just the cost of electricity and on top of that cost of driving that vehicle I have to be the one in the drivers seat? I would much rather sit on a train and read a book or have a conversation or do anything else and let one person drive 100's of us to our destination, it's cheaper, it uses less energy and it'd be a better use of our time.
But right, this is a plug in car web site, there for we must use plug in cars for EVERYTHING, right? I'd rather use the right tool for the task at hand and for most of my day to day transportation needs an electric car is the perfect tool, other time it's a bicycle or a pickup truck and yet other times it's an air plane or a train, but I would feel just as stupid making a cross country trip in an electric car as I would driving an empty pickup truck around town every day.

· Norbert (not verified) · 3 years ago

Right, it would be "stupid" to go from LA to New York in any car. ;)

Which of course doesn't have anything to do with the "mainstream" topic being discussed in this article.

· Mark (not verified) · 3 years ago

The average distance of leaf drivers according to Nissan is 7 miles.

Nissan say gen II Leaf will have a range close to 200 miles and the battery will last many years more, hopefully.

I would not like to see the resale value of the gen I leaf that's for sure, if people only charge from home and never allow full charge or discharge, then the battery should last years, but of course no one knows what kind of abuse the previous owner gave and it's way too big a risk, they will have to work out deals with new batteries if anyone is going to buy them 2nd hand, other than that you would be insane to buy a 2nd hand Leaf!

Fast chargers will still take twice as long for the gen II leaf, so they won't seem so fast then and a charger rated at 100kw I think won't be feasible because of cost and the amount of electricity needed!

Hydrogen is the solution I've no doubt and fuel cells are becoming a lot cheaper and more efficient, only thing is it takes so much energy to make it and we should be seriously considering the benefits of L.F.T.R technology, that's another story for another time, but needs serious consideration if we are to remove our dependence on foreign energy!

I converted my mountain bike to electric and it will do 15 miles full throttle with my direct drive motor or 12 miles @35 mph with my geared mac motor on a 60 Volt 10ah LiPo battery!

You can easily add another 10ah for 24-30 miles range and more if you do 20 mph or pedal of course!

I must say I'm very impressed with the geared mac motor because it's so much easier to pedal there is no drag like with the direct drive.

I have also lost 20 kgs since April, simply because I don't fear hills or wind etc, I can just let the motor take over when I'm tired which gives more encouragement to be out.

There should be more effort in promoting electric bikes to make people fit and to lessen the dangers of obesity, my weight was getting out of control and I'm so happy now, even though I need to loose more weight, it's coming off!

Electric bikes are the best weight loss device ever!

I'm not selling anything and I'm not advertising but check out this forum,

http://www.endless-sphere.com/forums/index.php

Very interesting stuff indeed, but you need to do your research!

Mark

· · 3 years ago

it would be "stupid" ...
I think that's a bit harsh considering how much pollution airplanes emit and how poor their passenger mpg is.
Remember, a 20 mpg mini-van loaded with 8 people gets 160 passenger-mpg. This is tough to beat except, perhaps an 8 mpg Greyhound bus loaded with 50 people (400 passenger-mpg). An airliner, on the other hand gets about 20 passenger mpg (per boeing.com). An electric high-speed train would be the best but there are no coast-to-coast electrified rail lines.
Beside, most people that cling to the coasts have no idea what's in the majority of the country that they've only flown over. It might be good if they'd get out into their country a bit more. Maybe we'd have less Red -vs- Blue state differences.

· · 2 years ago

@Mark: I wouldn't be overly worried about the resale value of the first generation LEAF. It should be possible to perform diagnostics to get an idea of remaining battery capacity. Folks on the MyNissanLeaf forum are currently looking into getting that information directly from the vehicle's diagnostic port, using inexpensive hardware. (Absent that information, as a prospective buyer, I'd want to take it for a really long test drive.)

Undoubtedly, there will be a role for reputable dealers in "recertifying" used EVs. Even a hard driven, significantly "range compromised" LEAF, available at a discount, would be useful to a great many people who'd rather do to their day-to-day driving without gasoline.

· Norbert (not verified) · 2 years ago

@ex-EV driver > "I think that's a bit harsh "...

Well, I kind of agree, and that's why I quoted it, as in fact, as a vacation trip, I would consider using an electric car for cross-country, if it has a 200+ mile range and DC fast charging is in place.

But the topic here is mainstream ICE use, and in the absence of high speed rail, most mainstream use will have to use the airplane for time reasons. I don't think a lot of people will buy ICEs instead of EVs for coast-to-coast trips, so that seems irrelevant. (And even if, that would be perfect case for for renting since you don't travel coast-to-coast on a weekly basis.)

I am very certain that short range EVs will not substitute mainstream ICE use, and neither will bicycles, buses, trains, electric airplanes, or hydrogen. This will require long-range EVs plus DC fast charging.

· · 2 years ago

*Norbert,
"short range EVs will not substitute mainstream ICE use"
I'm not too sure how 'long range' it will need though. I find that a 200 mile Tesla will handle nearly all of my normal driving needs and that is without fast charging, very much slow charging infrastructure, a small trunk and no back seat. The small trunk and lack of a back seat are probably more of a hindrance than range in deciding what car we use.
The Leaf's realistic 70-mile range is a bit short but the 120 mile range EV1 was fairly good. I'm thinking that a realistic 100 to 120 mile range EV with fast charging and more destination convenience charging would push toward obviating the ICE.

· · 2 years ago

I recieved my Leaf on Wednesday last week. I have had a home charger for about a month waiting on it. So far I have had plenty of range to do what I want during the day. I have visited a gas station since I recieved the car. I own a 2007 Titan Crew Cab LE paid for which I will drive on trips outside my normal area. Where I live there are no fast chargers and I do not need any. I live 15 miles from work and 2 miles from a major mall and 3 miles from Walmart and Lowes.
The Leaf will pay for itself. In the Titan I was filling up every 6 days @ $70 a fill. Does not take long to do the math.
I do not need fast chargers.

· Norbert (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Red Leaf > "I do not need fast chargers."

With fast chargers, I would not need gas stations.

· EvDriver (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Norbert there was a light rail plan that would have taken me every place that I've driven my current gasoline powered car in the last 5 years and my 30 year old electric car that charges off 110v would have been able to handle the rest of my transportation needs, but instead we are paying out more money for quick charging stations.

· Norbert (not verified) · 2 years ago

@EvDriver

I'm all in favor of (electric) public transportation, and using it myself for almost everything. However that's individual cases, and not something that would work for the mainstream. Quick charging stations aren't actually very expensive, compared with other larger projects, actually a very modest expense on a national scale. Why do you make such a big deal of opposing it?

· · 2 years ago

@EvDriver,
I'm also guessing that your 30 year old electric car isn't quite user-friendly enough for the mainstream public either.
I'll join Norbert in requesting that you don't badmouth something that will definitely help EVs to replace more gasoline.
Electric or other public transportation are essentially useless for me. While I really do like electric rapid-transportation, every attempt to implement a viable system in LA seems to be shot down by incompetence or selfishness.
At least when incompetence doubles the installation costs of fast chargers from ~$20K to ~$50K each, a lot can still be installed for a few $million. I actually think that most of LA's fast charger needs could be met with about 5 to 10 strategically located fast chargers for total outlay of $1 to $2M.
Sadly, I don't think there is any chance the first ones will be in useful locations though.
Poorly executed light rail and subway farces, like LA's, however, waste $billions.

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