Ultra-Fast Charging Technology Spreads

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted September 19, 2012

As gas prices continue to rise, electric vehicles gain in popularity. EV companies that were once small startups have become popular names, and the big car companies are creating new electric models or electrifying older models.

In the past year, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA), which recently rolled out its Model S, has seen a 10% rise in its shares – and almost 65% since its IPO in 2010.

Later this month, Toyota (NYSE: TM) will roll out a revamped model of its classic RAV4 SUV – an electrified model. It will be the only all-electric SUV on the market.

But as more of these vehicles hit the market, the same issue keeps coming to the fore: they have a limited mileage.

Now, it isn’t so much the mileage that’s a problem – even a regular car can only go a limited number of miles before you have to fill it up – but the fact that it takes hours to recharge.

The average electric vehicle takes about eight hours to recharge. Better ones have more mileage, but it’ll cost you.

But the growing trend now seems to be innovation in charging stations. What people want in order to take full advantage of their electric vehicles – in order to earn the cost back via fuel savings more quickly – is the ability to take their cars on longer trips and, if necessary, charge up.

And one company from Sweden wants to make that happen.

ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB), a power and automation technology company, rolled out its Terra 51 direct current (DC) fast charger in the U.S. this month.

The first charger was installed in New Berlin, Wisconsin, where the company has one of its many U.S. offices and employs 500 people.

The charger, which works with the CHAdeMO-compatible battery – one of the most common in EVs – can charge a vehicle in 15 to 30 minutes.

From Herald Online:

“We plan to make this charging station accessible to the general public, so that owners of electric vehicles have local access to quick charging of their cars,” said Cal Lankton, Director of EV Charging Infrastructure. The Terra 51 earned UL certification several weeks ago, which now puts the unit on the fast track for production and installation across the U.S., he said. Manufacture of the fast chargers is in ramp-up mode now at ABB’s New Berlin Campus, with the first stateside units slated for installation in September. “Building out the infrastructure of fast chargers is in the early stages in North America,” said Lankton, “but we now are underway.”

The chargers are operated with RFID cards and can be connected through the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). They have already launched in Europe.

Stefan Friedli, the company’s General Manager Power Electronics & MV Drives in the U.S., said:

“This station is just the first step in what we hope is an area-wide charging infrastructure network. Our goal is to help provide the residents of the greater Milwaukee area with a rich network of EV chargers, in order to enhance the user experience and drive adoption.”

But ABB isn’t the first company to bring this technology to the U.S. San Francisco, California-based ECOtality (NASDAQ: ECTY) launched its Blink(R) DC Fast Charging station at Bishop Ranch in California earlier this summer. ECOtality’s system also can deliver a full charge in up to thirty minutes, and it works with CHAdeMO connectors as well.

If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle soon, that’s one thing you’ll want to check – that the car has a CHAdeMO-compatible battery.

Because these ultra-efficient systems seem like they could revolutionize the way electric vehicles run. It’s only a matter of time before they’re widely adopted across the nation.

And then it’s only a matter of time before these ultra-efficient systems revolutionize the way we drive.

Brianna Panzica

follow basic@brianna_panzica on Twitter

Energy & Capital’s modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends.

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