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electric vehicle battery charger:The exciting future of fast charging

This is part 3 in a series exploring fast charging technology. In part I discussed what fast charging is. In part 2 I discussed car batteries and the variables that influence charge speed. In this part I’ll explain how fast the next generation of EV’s will be charged. (Please note: for this blog I've used publicly available information. Some guesses are described as such.) In part 4 I discuss the relationship between station capacity and economies of scale.


Fast charging standards

Currently, there are just two open fast charging standards: "CCS" and "CHAdeMO":


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Combined Charging System (CCS) was developed by seven car makers and was designed for charging up to ~80 kW (at 400V). The standard is currently promoted by CharIN and is backed bymajor European and US car makers.


CHAdeMO was already developed in 2010 by the CHAdeMO Association and was an initiative of Japanese car makers. The initial design allowed for charging at up to ~50 kW (at 400V).


Fastned is a member of both organisations and we offer these standards at all of our stations. (Please note that Tesla has a proprietary charging protocol for their Superchargers, which can fast charge up to 130 kW. Because the Tesla protocol is not open, fast charger manufacturers cannot include Tesla plugs in their chargers. To get around this problem, Fastned installed Tesla CHAdeMO adapters at all Fastned stations.)

 


Current situation

Most fast chargers currently can charge electric vehicles up to 50 kW. However, some car makers have introduced - or are about to introduce - electric vehicles for faster charging:


KIA introduced the Soul EV in 2014 with support of charging up to 100 kW using CHAdeMO, demonstrating that charging faster than 50 kW was possible. However, no infrastructure of 100 kW CHAdeMO fast chargers was available due to the lack of an official higher powered CHAdeMO standard.


BMW, Nissan, Volkswagen and Ford confirmednbattery upgrades in 2016 for existing EV models. This may open the possibility that they implement fast charging up to ~80 kW, within the existing CCS standard.


Hyundai announced the 2016 introduction of the full electric Ioniq Electric and confirmed that it would be able to charge at up to 100 kW using CCS.


General Motors brings the Chevrolet Bolt EV to Europe as the Opel Ampera-e in 2017. Officially the Ampera-e supports 50 kW CCS fast charging. It may be prepared for charging up to 80 kW using CCS.


Cars supporting 50+ kW charging are currently capped at 50 kW. They will start to benefit when the next generation of fast chargers is deployed. However, most fast charger manufacturers decided to skip the intermediary step of 100 kW fast charging. Instead, they will move directly to include 150 kW support (see below).


The next generation of fast chargers

German car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche seem to agree that ultra fast charging is critical for the adoption of electric cars. CharIN is currently working on enhancing the CCS standard to support 150 kW charging by increasing the maximum current (Amperage). Several car makers want to increase the charging speed by increasing the maximum voltage as well. The next CCS standard will therefore allow speeds up to 350 kW.


At the Frankfurt Auto Show of 2015, Audi revealed the Q6 e-tron quattro concept. This full electric Audi is able to charge at 150 kW and will go into production in 2018. At the same show, Porsche presented their Mission E concept which is scheduled for 2020 and supports charging at 300+ kW. Both cars feature a large battery of at least 90 kWh and a range of 500 km. These announcements show that the race for faster charging is on.


Japanese car makers are also working on higher fast charging speeds. The CHAdeMO Association announced the 150 kW standard in June 2016. The next generation Nissan Leaf might be the first car to support 150 kW using CHAdeMO.


For both CCS and CHAdeMO 150 kW fast charging would be a big step forward. If fully realised, this speed surpasses that of Tesla Superchargers.


Deploying next generation charging infrastructure

Many Fastned stations are already prepared for 150 kW chargers. We have grid connections that support charging four cars simultaneously at 150 kW. Our other stations can easily be upgraded with a larger grid connection as well. More capacity can be added in the future by introducing on-site battery buffering and/or by further increasing the capacity of the grid connections. The layout of our stations is already designed for maximum throughput of cars.


We expect to install the first 150 kW chargers at Fastned stations in 2017, depending on introductions of cars with 150 kW capability by the car makers and the availability of these high powered chargers.


In my next blog I will discuss the capacity and economies of scale of fast charging stations.


Roland van der Put is the CTO of Fastned and heads the Network Operations Center. He graduated as computer science engineer at the Delft University of Technology and has a background in computers. His interest in electric cars was triggered after installing his own solar panels and driving a plug-in hybrid.


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