ChargePoint recent announcement of available two DC Fast Charge stations indicates they’re preparing for the fast charging future. With the upcoming wave of 200+ mile range electric cars – appearing to start in 2016-2017-2018 if currently announced plans work out – public fast charging infrastructure is a BIG NEED. (On a 60 kWh 200 mile range vehicle, 6 kiloWatt charging is excruciatingly slow) ChargePoint is apparently close to announcing locations for the West & East coast charging corridors – more on that at the bottom of the post. With that in mind, let us consider the newly announced ChargePoint Express 100 and Express 200 DC Fast Charging stations.
The ChargePoint Express 100 (picture above) is obviously the BMW 24 kiloWatt fast charger, rebadged for ChargePoint. The picture to the right comes from BMW’s announcement, which occurred at the PlugIn 2014 conference in San Jose last year.
The station supports the ComboCharging System, meaning it won’t support those of us with CHAdeMO-equipped cars.
The point of this charger is that it’s low cost and low power requirements make it easier to buy and install.
It requires 32 amp 480 volt 3 phase AC service.
Unlike many other fast charging stations, this unit is completely self contained, and weighs in at only 110 lbs. It can attach to a wall, to light poles, or a stand-alone pedestal. Most other fast charging stations require multiple huge cabinets and must weigh over 500 lbs.
The ChargePoint Express 200 is from Veefil, an Australian charging station maker. It’s a larger unit that supports both CHAdeMO and ComboCharging System, and runs at 50 kiloWatts output.
It requires 63 amp 480 volt 3 phase AC service, for 52 kiloWatts total input power. It’s a self-contained unit (unlike most fast chargers that have multiple huge cabinets) and weighs in at 364 lbs. Installation and operational maintenance costs are simplified by this unit having a liquid cooling system, rather than the forced air system of other fast charging units that are prone to collecting leaves and other debris (cough cough Nissan/Sumitomo).
General fast charging infrastructure build-out
As I said at the top, the 6 kiloWatt charging network will be woefully inadequate not too long into the future. Today the general electric car charges at 6 kiloWatts, and for the vehicles with battery pack capacity around 24 kiloWatt-hours the 3-4 hour recharge time isn’t that bad, unless you’re trying to take a road trip. The public charging system around us is primarily 6 kiloWatt chargers on the car, and 6 kiloWatt public charging stations.
Several car companies have promised 200+ mile range affordable electric cars “Real Soon Now”. GM’s Chevy Bolt concept car is supposed to become a real car, with a real product name, during 2016, and Tesla’s Model 3 is due to roll out in late 2017 (we hope), and Nissan and others have promised cars in about that time-frame. A 200+ mile range electric car requires a 60+ kiloWatt-hour battery pack. A 6 kiloWatt charging station would therefore require at least 10 hours for a full recharge.
That’s a non-starter, the customers will not buy into that story. Presumably the charging networks know this.
With that in mind I queried ChargePoint about the BMW/VW project to build charging corridors on the East and West coasts, and the KCP&L project to beef up charging infrastructure in the Kansas City area.
They told me
- To expect an announcement Real Soon Now for the BMW/VW east/west coast project, and that they’ve broken ground on a few locations
- The Kansas City project has deployed the promised 15 fast charging stations
Further, at the recent Silicon Valley Charged and Connected conference, ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano talked about how ChargePoint’s planners had mapped out a 2000+ DC Fast Charge network which would provide complete coverage of the U.S. Getting there is a matter of investment. In ChargePoint’s case that means lining up host sites who will pay for the equipment, and join ChargePoint’s network.
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I sincerely hope that this network of fast chargers progresses quickly. Somebody has to join the Bay Area to the West Coast Electric Highway at the Oregon border. The CEC has issued grants for connecting Sacramento to the LA Basin, and I hope this network will bring some redundancy to that route too. I also hope the Veefil units are truly more reliable than the others. Nissan units are notoriously bad, but the ABB ones are really not that much better overall, at least the way NRG operates them.
I have used the BMW i DCFC at the BMW Technology Center in Mountain View with our e-Golf. It appears to be limited to 50A DC, which only gave me 18kW – 19kW during the short session I charged there. In fact, the cable is about the same thickness (and the same 8ga wire size) as the Leviton 40A home charging station I have. These should definitely be for destination charging, not highway rest stop charging.
The ChargePoint spec sheet says up to 62A DC. I thought it was lower because of the result with the e-Golf. I have since learned it has a 323V nominal battery, which is significantly lower than I thought. I started the charge at about 60% SOC and it charged at about 18.5kW. If it was really 62A, then the battery voltage would have been slightly below 300VDC.
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