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EV Come Home – Part 3, I Get A Charge Out Of You

December 21, 2009

Oregonians Finally Get To Fill Their Own Cars

A big advantage of Electric Vehicle ownership is not having to go to the gas station anymore. At least until gas stations expand services to recharging EVs. Another advantage, for better or worse, is that you get to filler-up yourself. At home and on the road, it will be your job to make sure you have enough juice to get where you are going and when low, you are the one to plug-’er-in and fill-’er-up.

EVs like the Nissan Leaf will have GPS navigation as standard, with maps and distance calculated to let you know how far you are from charging stations. Tesla, GM Volt and other manufacturers are working on development of an EV charging station infrastructure. Like the transition from horses to automobiles, there’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, until there are enough EVs it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of resources on charging stations.

Let’s start at home.  The following excerpts are from a recent CNN article…

Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt ideally use special "quick chargers" that have to be hardwired directly into high-power lines.

Installing the chargers is not like putting in a ceiling fan. The equipment has to be fully approved, installed by a competent professional, and in most cases, a city or state inspector will have to approve it all.

Nissan and GM have been working with city and state governments to prepare them for the arrival of electric car so their customers don’t hear, “You need your what inspected?” when they call city hall.

Both automakers are also working on public infrastructure for electric cars. But they admit that parking lot charging stations are more important for creating public acceptance of electric cars — to do away with worries about running out of juice — than for actual use.

“We believe that 80% of charging is going to happen at home and at the workplace,” said Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan.

Plug Compatible? E-harmony, Find Out First…

Standards for EV charging stations, connectors, voltages and grid communications are still being worked out both here and abroad. While President Obama was in China in November, the U.S.-China electric-vehicles initiative announced cooperation between companies and standards committees.

Jack Pokrzywa, SAE Director of Ground Vehicle Standards at Society of Automotive Engineers, said “SAE technical standards committees are on the cusp of delivering about 20 EV-related standards in the near term. He pointed out that the standards have been vetted by experts from countries around the globe.”

SAE standards such as J2836/1 through /5 “Use Cases for Communication between Plug-in Vehicles and the Utility Grid”; SAE J2847/1 through /5 “Communication between Plug-in Vehicles and the Utility Grid”; and SAE J1772 “SAE Electric Vehicle Conductive Charge Coupler” provide foundation to the rest of the standards suite. “SAE and their partners—the Chinese Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC)—have a good working relationship focused on standards development, among other initiatives,” Pokrzywa added.

Tesla Connector Charging Locations in North America

There’s been a good deal of investment by the feds, state, and local government as well as car and charger companies to see that the initial infrastructure is rolled-out as EVs grow in popularity. There are bound to be problems and hassles balancing the supply and demands of a new electric fuel distribution network. But the incentive for jumping the gap are encouraging.

Jon Lauckner, GM vice president said. “At current fuel prices, a car that gets 30 miles per gallon fuel economy costs about 14 cents a mile in fuel costs alone. An electric vehicle of the same size and the same mass, everything else being equal, costs 2 cents a mile on peak, and 1 cent per mile with off-peak rates.

“Somebody who drives an average amount of miles per year—let’s say 12,000 miles—the net cost savings for using electricity as a fuel, as compared to gasoline, is at least $1,700 dollars. That’s the gasoline that you don’t buy, netted out against the electricity that you do buy. Obviously, that number varies depending what you pay for electricity per kilowatt-hour, and the price of gasoline at any particular moment. As the price of gasoline goes up, that advantage just gets bigger.

According to Pike Research, by 2015, 1 million charging stations will be in operation and more than 1 million electric vehicles will be on the road in the U.S., ultimately reaching 5 million vehicles by 2020.

Look Ma, No Cables!

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 23.

But, you may not even have to get out of the car in the rain to plug your EV in to recharge. Wireless transmission of power for small electronic devices like tooth brushes, cell phones, computers and even household appliances is on its way.

The need for cars to be tethered for charging is an unfortunate nuisance until the cost and efficiency of  wireless transmission becomes competitive. Development of wireless power transmission has been under study since the 1890s by Tesla (the  inventor) who along with Westinghouse introduced AC power and electrical wireless transmission at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was there that Tesla beat his ex-boss Edison and General Electric. Edison proposed Direct Current (DC) system to power the Fair. But, the World’s Columbian Exposition selected to use Tesla’s Alternating Current (AC) technology to light the Fair that became known as the “White City, due to its color and nighttime luminance.”

Known then as the “War of the Currents” the battle continues today as we need to convert the readily distributed AC into efficient and powerful DC that runs most EVs.  Also, see the video, Nikola Tesla “The Forgotten Wizard”

More on Telsa’s current popularity…

Below are photos and an article about Nissan’s plans for its EV Leaf and an home wireless charging station.

Nissan to Produce Major Parts for Electric Vehicle In-House

Nissan Motor also gave a demonstration of a plug-free, non-contact charging system for the future (Fig 3).

The non-contact charging station was developed by Nissan in collaboration with Showa Aircraft Industry Co Ltd of Japan, it has a rated output of 10kW and is planned for adoption in vehicles released after the models slated for FY2010. A 3kW-class system is planned for use in the home.

Next post, EV Come Home – Part 4, PDX challenges SF In EV War!

Also see:

EV Come Home – Part 1, Intro

EV Come Home – Part 2, Meet the Leaf

Related Articles:

Siemens: Cable-free Charging of Electric Cars Via Coils

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