By on June 15, 2010

Japan appears to be serious about EVs. Evidence: Japan’s increased focus on chargers. The hard part of EVs is not to build them. The tough issue is where to charge them. And how quickly. Whether you live in Manhattan or Tokyo: As a city dweller, you hardly can put a charging station on the street or into the underground parking garage. The average suburbanite in Tokyo already has a hard time just finding a parking space (proof required if you want to buy a car). A charging station? What charging station? So the Japanese are busy building them. No wonder: 67 percent of the Japanese live in cities. (In the U.S.A. it’s even more: 82 percent.)  Who’s leading the charge for chargers?

According to The Nikkei [sub] “companies big and small see a golden opportunity in providing chargers for this impending wave of cars.”

JFE Engineering has developed a high-speed charger that can fill an electric car battery to 50 percent capacity in just three minutes. That takes a lot of Amps, and to prevent the lights from going out in the neighborhood, the company buffers the power in a high-capacity storage battery that can also discharge very rapidly. Their charger meets the specifications of the proposed CHAdeMo standard. It costs about $50,000, installed, “roughly half the usual amount,” as the Nikkei says.

Nissan developed a rapid charger that goes for only $15,000. The maker of the Leaf wants to install the charger at 200 dealerships an sell it to others.

Yokohama-based Hasetec has a whole line-up of rapid chargers. They added a medium-speed charger that requires 90-120 minutes to fill a car’s battery, and cost about $20,000. They see a niche at operators of parking lots and amusement facilities.

Itochu thinks “green” and “distribution.” They want to install solar panels Japan’s ubiquitous FamilyMart convenience stores, and combine them with an Itochu Enex charger.

Distribution is a huge challenge. For some reason, the most logical choice (gas stations) doesn’t range on top. The charger folks seek places with a higher dwell time, such as shops, parking garages, and amusement parks. Especially for shops, the concept is attractive: If the car isn’t full charged, shop some more.

Research company Fuji Keizai says the Japanese market for chargers should be $100m by 2015. Want to get your share of the EV market? Build chargers.

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9 Comments on “The Charge Of The Light Brigade: Charge EVs, Charge!...”


  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    In the US, they’ll all have to be subsidized by the government to really catch on. It’ll be the “cash for coulombs” program for those who want to turn their parking garages into gigantic charge storage capacitors.

  • avatar
    ott

    “The charger folks seek places with a higher dwell time, such as shops, parking garages, and amusement parks. Especially for shops, the concept is attractive: If the car isn’t full charged, shop some more.”

    And here I thought the one of the objects of EVs was to SAVE money. I can just imagine the credit card bills at the end of the month when John Q. Public’s wife Jane decides to pop back into the mall because “Well, honey, I still had to wait for two more bars to have a full charge–you wouldn’t want me to get stuck without power somewhere, would you?” –So much for fuel “savings”.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    God help us when these fast chargers malfunction. Hundreds or even thousands of Amps flowing through the wrong conductors or damaged components (like batteries or supercaps or car frames) could be absolutely spectacular. Cars or chargers could literally explode.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    We’ve seen this in California. There have been waves of charger-installing from time to time. The chargers then sit idle. Seven or eight years ago when I flew out of the Oakland airport a lot there was a row of chargers in the parking lot there. I never saw one in use.

    But who knows? It may be different this time. The important thing is to let demand “pull” these chargers into the market. Governments should not subsidize or provide chargers. If they succeed, great. If they fail, that’s what’s meant to be.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I have the feeling that when Evs started to get enuf of critical mass, the Gasoline will come down on price, suddenly the Govt will look else where for the cash cow derived on fuel tax!

    Look at it now only reason for gas to be sold at a $1.17 a litre or 3.89 L= 1 US gal.
    as our friendly Govt charge about 90cents of tax, if u look at the pie chart break down u can get very sick too.
    By then will they slap the same tax on Electricity?
    Or if enuf folks use Veggie oil, and deprive the Tax folks’ revenue?
    Tax is levied in Calif & Old Blighty ( UK ) for putting veggie oil in car, truck tanks.

  • avatar
    Some Guy

    “The charger folks seek places with a higher dwell time, such as shops, parking garages, and amusement parks. Especially for shops, the concept is attractive: If the car isn’t full charged, shop some more.”

    Interesting way of looking at it. For those who brag about how much money they save by plugging in instead of gassing up, it may end up costing them more to have an electric car… especially if you’re an impulse shopper. Well… if you bought an electric car when charging stations across the nation are still rare as chicken’s teeth, it probably isn’t a matter of IF, but ARE an impulse shopper.

  • avatar
    TR4

    “Distribution is a huge challenge. For some reason, the most logical choice (gas stations) doesn’t range on top. The charger folks seek places with a higher dwell time, such as shops, parking garages, and amusement parks.”

    Wet dream fantasies of 3 minute charging aside, having chargers at gas stations does NOT make business sense. A gasoline customer might occupy the premises for 5 minutes and purchase $40 worth of product. The EV customer will likely spend 15 to 30 minutes occupying the same amount of space and purchase less than $4 of product. The gas station model will no longer be viable.

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    TR4: ” …. A gasoline customer might occupy the premises for 5 minutes and purchase $40 worth of product. The EV customer will likely spend 15 to 30 minutes occupying the same amount of space and purchase less than $4 of product … ”

    The progressive adoption of electric vehicles would likely place significant upward pressure on the price of electricity.

    If the technology was available to support quick charging — let’s say the EV could be recharged from near empty to full charge in half-an-hour, the convenience of the vehicle might be greatly improved for day shopping, Burger King runs, etc.

    So now we have the demand for electricity beginning to increase in prime-time use periods. And that means higher prices for electricity.

    How much higher? Is there any artificial pricing model which is capable of outperforming the market itself in maintaining an “efficient” allocation of both the cost and the production/ distribution for the energy which powers an electric vehicle?


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