Saturday, February 6, 2010

Will EV Rapid Chargers Kill the Gas Station?

Level III Rapid Chargers

Two competing visions for the design of public rapid chargers. Aker Wade's unit (left) uses the look of a gas pump, while the AeroVironment (right) take a more futuristic approach.

Think, the electric car producer, announced this week at the Washington Auto Show that it is partnering with AeroVironment to commercialize rapid chargers. This could mean charging an electric car to about 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes. Richard Canny, Think�"s CEO, called the move to so-called Level III rapid charging �Sa major leap forward for electric vehicles.⬝

Earlier this month, Aker Wade Power Technologies and Coulomb Technologies an agreement to develop public charging stations capable of charging an electric vehicle in 30 minutes or less. Allowing electric car drivers to fully recharge in minutes rather than hours could alleviate �Srange anxiety⬝�the concern that a pure electric car could run out of energy and its driver could be stranded for hours until the vehicle is adequately recharged.

There's debate at the Electric Drive Transportation Association conference, held in conjunction with the Washington Auto Show, about the economics and necessity of so-called Level III 480-volt charging for the first electric cars coming to market later this year. caught up with John Aker, president and CTO of Aker Wade, to learn about the vision of EV rapid charging. Although slower charging will be very inexpensive, Aker believes that EV drivers will gladly pay more for a rapid charge when gas prices climb well above the $4 spike experienced in 2008. Is Level III rapid charging a pipe dream?

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