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Volvo fast charger fills an EV battery in an hour and a half


November 8, 2012

Volvo is testing the charger on its C30 EVs

Volvo is testing the charger on its C30 EVs

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Volvo is working on what it calls the world's first three-phase on-board charger. The charger promises to make electric-vehicle charging much faster than it is now. Instead of charging a vehicle overnight or for hours at a time, Volvo claims its on-board unit will allow users to completely refresh their batteries in just 1.5 hours.

Volvo's fast charger has the capability to make a marked improvement over what current on-board electric vehicle charging hardware offers. With a 400-volt three-phase power source, the 22-kW charger can deliver 50 miles (80 km) worth of driving power within half an hour. A full charge will take 1.5 hours.

Volvo's hardware also allows for 230-volt charging with a more traditional overnight time frame. Depending on the available current, a 230-volt supply will charge the battery to full in 8 to 10 hours.

"The user can 'top up' the battery pack with electricity one or more times during the day," explains Lennart Stegland, Volvo's vice president for electric propulsion systems. "This means that the total daily range is significantly extended, yet with the same low operating cost compared to a car with a conventional power train."

Volvo plans to test its fast charger out on a fleet of C30 Electric cars.

Volvo isn't the first automaker to address the issue of long charging times. Nissan began distributing a quick charger system earlier this year, and Tesla recently launched a network of "Superchargers." Unlike those systems, however, Volvo's charger is small enough to fit on board the car.

Source: Volvo

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

The refill time of an electric vehicle needs to be approximately ten minutes, realize that fueling a gas powered car take only a fraction of that. So an hour and a half is still very slow, Not a car to be used if you're in a hurry.


That would depend upon an individuals lifestyle, Gargamoth. I'd be more concerned if the quick charge cycle reduces the overall number of charge/recharge cycles the battery pack can withstand.

The actual, practical range is still more a more important consideration

NK Fro

The most common reasons why a gas powered vehicle needs to be refueled quickly are so that (a) the next vehicle in the queue can start to refuel quickly, and (b) the driver can get home quickly from the fuel station. With e-vehicles most recharging will be done at home anyway.

Since many vehicles will be in car parking areas for much of the day, away from home charging, it would be sensible to work with two "quick swap" sets of batteries, so that while the car is away from home, another set of batteries can be recharging from the house rooftop solar panels, then topped up from the grid (if necessary) during the dark hours. This would then speed up the charging and reduce the cost of electricity since at least some of the power would come from the sun.


Wait for Tesla's Supercharger stations next year with 90 KW! :) Volvo Nice job anyway!


What if the battery was divided into a large number of smaller sub-units for charging, each of which had its own supply and could be charged at relatively high current in - say - ten minutes?

Clearly this would require considerably more current than would be available from a domestic supply, but this would be no problem if using a three-phase industrial system.

Of course, the ultimate would be a battery where the electrolyte, not the electrodes, carried the charge, so all that would be necessary would be replacement of the fluid in the battery, which could then be recharged separately. This would take little longer than filling a conventional tank.

I believe that this is in fact under development, but currently only on an industrial scale.


Too bad most residential areas aren't wired for 3 phase !

I am sure my employer would love to see me pull-in and plug into their 3-phase service everyday !


Any word on the effect on battery life with this system?


I am amazed every time I read an article on super fast charging... no doubt it will hurt the battery. With the current battery technology the range of electric car is limited (if not very limited if you stay in reasonable pricing). Most of those cars are designed as commuters which is fine. Why would you want too destroy the battery using a super far charging method in your garage? The reason why you would need a super fast charging would be: • You are not using the car for what it is supposed to use for… • You forgot the charge the car… Reason why manufacturer should work on induction charging… park the car for the night get out of it and go home it will manage its charge by itself every night and you will never run out of juice if you are using the car as intended without destroying the battery…

I must be missing something otherwise those super charger (1.5hour a the pump is not what I would call super fast anyway) would not that numerous…


It may be a long refueling period compared to ICE, this would be pretty good for taxi/taxi stand service. Seems to me that short trip and repetetive start/stop duty such as taxis and delivery vehicles such as mail trucks is where these vehicles would yeild the greatest financial benefit.


Volt has the right idea. The battery should always be the power source. Having a backup system recharge the battery on the go is a fair trade off. I have used my Volt to drive back and forth to work for over one year. I have used 17 gallons of gas. My anxiety level is normal because I know the gas engine will start when the battery needs recharging. If the government sent everyone $20,000 to buy a Volt, the price of gas would drop below .50 a gallon. With high production volume, General Motors could get the costs down so even they make a profit. Meanwhile, we are finally independent of foreign oil. Utility companies have plenty of capacity between midnight and 6am. We finally have the answer! David Mallach.


The cycle times of the batteries will only be affected if the charge rate is so fast it causes gassing and heating in the LiPo cells (the actual effect does depend on the chemistry involved).

600v-480v 3 phase is far superior to any other source and is readily available almost every where. It is rarely brought into housing projects and tract homes so perhaps that's why some commentators here find it a rare beast. Certainly at home the ability to charge at 240 or 130 single phase in off peak times overnight is usually adequate. The availability of a 3 phase charge near shopping or restaurant means that the consumer in need of a quick boost can get it in a reasonable 15 to 30 minutes commensurate with the normal human pace.

As compared to electrolyte swapping or other methods the pure electrical solution is clean, no storage, leakage or EPA problems and no hazards. Most important of all the "fuel" is already available in most of the world and all of North America.

In fact the high voltage 3 phase system lends itself well to inductive coupling with a standard coupler eliminating the cord and the potential hazard of electroshock injuries or deaths.


LOL my car gets a 500 mile range and takes 1.5 minutes to fill this has a 50 mile range and takes 1.5 hours..

600x longer charging.. Yup that is the solution..

Michael Mantion

let's not forget the overall efficiency. By the time the current reaches the wall socket its under 28% of what the energy density of the source was. And in spite of the above contention: most car users live in the suburbs which virtually none have three phase power available. How are car makers getting mileage: lighter vehicles. Adding a thousand pound battery pack doesn't make sense. Then couple it with problems like a saturated electrical grid that is fraught with stability issues (look at the havoc created by Sandy affecting 10million consumers). Most consumers are not just going to buy it. Government mandates, marketing hype, basic physics, and the psyche of the consumer just doesn't make a good mix for a successful product.

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