The biggest problem with an electric future no longer seems to be wheezy, glorified golf carts. It’s the infrastructure because, let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to pump gas for five minutes than plug in an electric car for four hours. Tesla has decreased quick charging times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes or so recently with its supercharger stations. But what are the rest of the EV automakers doing?
They’re finalizing testing on “combination” charging stations that use existing direct-current car chargers with alternating-current adapters that they say can charge a BMW i3 or Chevrolet Spark EV to 80-percent capacity within 20 minutes. Both GM and BMW seem to be happy with the results thus far.
“This unprecedented cooperation among OEMs and equipment suppliers demonstrates the maturity of this important technology that will help speed the adoption of electric vehicles around the world,” said Britta Gross, GM director, advanced vehicle commercialization policy, in a statement.
“Our goal with this cooperation was to ensure that DC fast charging stations be available to provide BMW i3 customers the premium fast charging experience in time for the arrival of the BMW i3,” said Cliff Fietzek, manager connected e-Mobility at BMW of North America LLC, in a statement. “We are pleased that we will meet our goal.”
The new quick charger, being universally adopted by Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, among others, is known as the SAE J1772 charger around technical circles. J1772 is a standard that’s been formalized by the Society of Automotive Engineers, amended when the quick charger portion was added.
The new quick charger is expected to go into use a few months after the Chevrolet Spark EV goes on sale in California and Oregon this summer. The BMW i3 will be introduced late this year with an early 2014 on-sale date.
The CHAdeMO quick charger used in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf uses a similar concept, but it’s more in line with what the Japanese automakers use abroad. So far, it looks like J1772 is going to be the VHS that wins over Betamax this time around.