Portland General Electric and NEC have joined forces to declare North America's first public-use, quick-charge station for electric vehicles open for business. Heralded as a tipping point for the roll-out of electric vehicles in the U.S., the Takasago Rapid Charging Station is said to provide batteries with up to 80 per cent full strength in 20 to 30 minutes. Company officials and Governor Ted Kulongoski took the opportunity to power up a visiting Nissan LEAF before it left for a two-day tour of the area.

The Rapid Charging Station installed in the parking garage of the World Trade Center at 121 SW Salmon St in Portland, Oregon is manufactured by NEC subsidiary Takasago Ltd and has now been awarded public use certification. This means that for the first time in the U.S., electric vehicle owners can head to a publicly available quick-charge station for a 20 to 30 minutes lithium-ion battery boost which will bring battery strength up to 80 per cent capacity.

Governor Kulongoski joined officials from Portland General Electric and NEC to open the Takasago Rapid Charging Station, also taking the opportunity to charge up a Nissan LEAF which was being test-driven in Oregon for the first time. The Governor said: "Quick-charging stations are an exciting advancement in our effort to bring electric vehicles to Oregon. By making charging convenient and available for public use, we are telling car manufacturers that Oregon is ready for the next generation of electric vehicles - and we want our state to be a leader in introducing these cars to the rest of the country."

Portland General Electric's president and CEO Jim Piro added: "With the addition of the Takasago Rapid Charging Station to the growing network of EV charging stations in Oregon, we are able to further our research on how this new technology will interact with our electrical system and support our EV-driving customers."

The new charging station provides power output of 50kw (50-500V, 0-125A), supports power input of AC200V±30V and complies with the CHAdeMO standard.

Portland General Electric already has a number of level one charging stations in the area, which are 110-volt systems and take between eight and 12 hours for a complete charge. Most of these will likely be upgraded to level two in the future and provide drivers with four to eight hour overnight charging on a 220-volt system. Installing quick-chargers in parking areas, rest stops and restaurants will make the technology even more convenient and is seen as something of a game changer for electric vehicle drivers.

The following video from Portland General Electric shows highlights of the official opening: