Electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are quickly becoming mainstream options for people looking to save money at the gas pump and reduce CO2 emissions. But viable options to recharge electric cars are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to charging forward with the new technology.
Short-range trips, like commuting and running errands, can be accomplished simply by topping off the charge on the car’s battery, either at home or via a public charging station. Many have rapid recharging capabilities, allowing vehicles like the Nissan Leaf to refill up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes or less.
Most fast-charge systems are built using Chademo – a standard developed in Japan – which means “charge and move.” But this charger uses a connector different from the plugs in most electric vehicles (EVs). That means that EVs that are compatible with Chademo, as well as ordinary 120-volt electrical outlets, must have two sockets.
Rapid charging of EVs is necessary, as ordinary 120-volt outlets require 10-20 hours to recharge at Level 1 charging. For Level 2 charging, a 240-volt circuit is required. The Chademo charging cable is not portable, but is hard-wired to a garage or charging station. This charger itself is built into the electric car (at an additional cost of about $2,000), while a standard charging cable that can plug into 120-volt outlets comes standard with all electric cars on the market.
A level 2 Chademo charging cable is required for recharging at parking lots and rapid-recharging stations that have been – or will be – installed along highways and freeways. Currently, there are about 1350 rapid recharging stations for EVs across the United States. Several technologies exist to help drivers locate charging stations for electric cars.
Admittedly, recharging stations will have to increase in number, price will have to come down for Level 2 charging cables, and an even faster charging time will be required before consumers decide that EVs are as convenient as gasoline powered vehicles. But we are definitely charging forward with electric cars here in the USA!