New Battery Charger Could Fill ‘Er Half Up in Three Minutes

A Japanese company is refining a technology that charges the battery pack in electric cars 50 percent full in three minutes, according to Green Car Advisor.

The system, which is about the size of a gasoline pump, could be a boon for the electric vehicle market, where long charge times for vehicle battery packs are a major obstacle to widespread adoption of EVs.

Yokohama-based JFE Engineering Corporation, which hopes to put the charger on sale this year, said it costs 40 percent less than similar systems, and runs off of a standard electrical circuit. Other high-voltage quick chargers require electrical capacity not available at most homes or businesses.

JFE’s charger uses a normal electrical source to store electricity overnight (when it’s cheapest) and then deliver it in a big burst when needed. The system would require software changes to electrical vehicles to take advantage of the charging technology.

Charging an electric vehicle battery with a standard 120-volt plug takes about 6-8 hours, depending on the size of the battery. Chargers on a 240-volt circuit (which is what a washing machine uses) reduce that time, but not enough to make a long distance trip in an EV practical.

But if an electric car could get half a tank in 3 minutes, it could substantially reduce “range anxiety” and make EVs much more attractive.

This story was first reported by Nikkei (subscription required).

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.