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MIT tackles challenge of electric car that recharges in ten minutes flat

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August 6, 2009

An electric vehicle is nothing without a catchy name - meet MIT EVT's elEVen

An electric vehicle is nothing without a catchy name - meet MIT EVT's elEVen

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Sometimes in science, it helps to set the bar high. That seems to be the attitude of the MIT Electric Vehicle Team (EVT). By their reckoning, one of the biggest impediments to the average driver adopting an electric vehicle is recharge times. So, having converted a Porsche 914 to electric, their next project is to produce a prototype family car that will achieve 0-60mph in under nine seconds, have a range of 200 miles, and fully recharge in under 11 minutes.

Dubbed the elEVen, this latest project is an attempt to build an electric car that meets the expectations of mainstream drivers, including a “refill” time comparable to that at a gas pump. Using the mid-size Ford CD3 platform – common to the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln MKZ – EVT plans to strip the vehicle down and rebuild it to their own specifications.

The engine will be replaced with a 250-horsepower, 180kW AC induction motor, donated by SatCon and originally designed for use in a 16.5-ton electric transit bus. Given the sedan will only weigh about 2 tons, it should easily achieve their acceleration goal and, better, manage a top speed of about 100mph.

The battery pack is actually 8,000 individual lithium iron phosphate cells wired together. Chosen because they have an extremely low internal resistance - ideal for rapid recharge – the batteries are also suitably chemically stable for use in a car.

And, finally, the rapid recharger is a custom-made 350-kilowatt unit that draws electricity from MIT’s industrial-grade AC power source. In the long run, though, the theory is you’d also be able to use domestic power for slow, overnight charge.

Does the whole thing sound a little pie-in-the-sky? Sure. The car will effectively cost USD$200,000. It’s taking a huge team over a year to build. And there’s presently no recharging station in the country that could deliver the 350kW needed (enough for about 20 houses) for a ten-minute recharge.

But that’s not the point, MIT EVT would argue. If no one ever tries to satisfy driver expectations, electric vehicle technology will never improve. They believe costs of new battery and electric drives could come down through mass production, but only if the potential is proved. That’s why they’re making all their research publicly available. In the meantime, you can follow their progress on the EVT blog.

5 Comments

Thank you ladies & gents working on this project. It is such as this that will continue to spur on development and drive down costs and eventually see an EV in many driveways around the world.

Michael Taylor
6th August, 2009 @ 01:21 am PDT

Who doesn't love MIT? Seriously, that school is amazing. Sure, right now, they're not trying to tackle the cheap production problem. But this is a first generation prototype that they're going for. After they tackle this problem (and they will), they'll probably start figuring out how to make it affordable soon after. Or some other school will. But MIT will have laid the foundation for it, and really that's the goal.

The first generation electric cars will really be marketed towards commuters. People are still going to need their internal combustion cars for long road trips and all that. That is, until the quick-charge generation of electric cars comes around.

I imagine a future where service stations on highways all have parking spots where you can plug your car in to refuel. Then, by the time you come out of the service center after having used the bathroom and gotten some food, your car will be refueled and ready. No need to go wait on line at the gas pump.

Stradric
6th August, 2009 @ 06:23 am PDT

Stradric you're right. On long road trips you have a quick fill up near to home (EV would BE at home) and then after 4 hours in the car you have another fill which takes a while due to some good old bending, stretching, eating, drinking and err... relieving then you're good to go! I don't see the problem with "long trips" if you've got a 10 - 20 min refill time.

Bring on the EV!!!

Craig Jennings
8th August, 2009 @ 04:35 pm PDT

Thanks for sharing... I can't wait to get a electric car myself...

We're just waiting for a few more to get on the market and it will be time to replace our Honda... I'm hoping that the volt will be a good choice or the prius... the rebates are definitely a great step in putting more people in these cars.

If just saw this today as well (government rebates for hybrid cars - http://www.hybridmile.com/news/government-rebate-hybrid/) I hope that these get extended into 2010 and really they should be available till every single gas car is off the road.

Bart Dabek
10th August, 2009 @ 07:20 am PDT

that's all very well, actually to look forward to ...but the sound of an engine has got ingrained in anyone after autos maybe we can waste power replicating it? til we get over it.

Jaydee Singh
18th August, 2009 @ 08:14 am PDT
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