One of the key stumbling blocks in the uptake of battery electric vehicles is charging times. After all, who wants to wait eight hours to "fill the tank" when a gasoline, hybrid or hydrogen powered vehicle can be replenished in a matter of minutes. One of the projects seeking to address the issue is a collaboration between electric vehicle manufacturer THINK and charging infrastructure developer AeroVironment (a company best known to Gizmag readers as a manufacturer of UAVs). The companies are collaborating on a fast charging project for the THINK City electric vehicle with the goal of taking the EV from zero charge to 80 percent full in just 15 minutes.
“THINK and AeroVironment are setting a new standard for extremely quick re-charging – zero to 80 percent in just 15 minutes,” said THINK CEO Richard Canny. “This is a major leap forward for electric vehicles. The development and deployment of very-fast-charge stations will help speed the electrification of automobiles in the United States and globally.”
Unfortunately, this doesn't mean you'll be getting a 15 minute charge out of your home electrical socket. THINK still expects the majority of its customers to use its overnight, 220-volt home charging station or 110 volt option, arguing that the THINK City's 100 mile range is will satisfy most driver's needs. The supplementary fast charging solution, which will use AV’s level III fast-charge system, will be targeted at commercial fleets where more range is needed on a daily basis.
“Our experience with more than 1,500 vehicles in use in Europe is that customers using the vehicle for daily commutes and trips around town quickly become comfortable with THINK City’s range of more than 100 miles,” Canny said. “For them, the standard over-night charging is a very practical solution. Fast charging’s importance will be for high-use fleets.”
The system could also find a market in shopping malls and parking garages where a place to park and recharge your wheels will become a selling point in the not too distant future.
THINK announced the partnership with AV at the Washington Auto Show. As part of its U.S. assault, the company will also use batteries from the Indiana-based lithium ion battery manufacturer EnerDel and has unveiled plans for a North American manufacturing facility in Elkhart, Indiana, which will go online in 2011.