Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Time Fast Charging


Last Friday, I took a quick trip from Santa Monica down to Cypress, CA. to the headquarters of Mitsubishi USA to visit with David Patterson, Chief Engineer, Mobile Emissions Regulatory Affairs & Certification for Mitsubishi's R&D division. He is the guy to talk to about their iMiEV the next EV to hit the U.S. market. Kitty Adams of Adopt a Charger a new non-profit that installs sponsored "fee-free" charging stations throughout the U.S. and Canada, had set up the meeting and accompanied me. Mitsubishi installed the first DC fast charger in southern California at their headquarters, and they were interested in talking to us about installing some under the umbrella of Adopt A Charger. We drove up to their beautifully designed 40 kW solar array under which were several Level 1 and Level 2 charge stations used to keep their fleet of iMiEVs charged. In the middle of these stood the refrigerator-sized EATON 480 volt device, an imposing charger to one used to much smaller. After locating someone with a key to unlock the device (they don’t allow unsupervised use) I locked the large connector into the big port on the front of my LEAF.


The display screen was simple enough, just push start and that was it. It started out pushing 380 volts at 120 amps, a lot of power! While we chatted for a few minutes, the amperage dropped gradually as the battery pack filled and by the time we were ready to go to lunch it was down to about 39 amps. We left it charging while we took one of the iMiEVs for a spin to the restaurant. The iMiEV is a great car!


I reported on a right hand version in February, 2010 after getting a loaner for a weekend. This time, we had a production model made for the U.S. market with the steering on the left side. The ride was every bit as good as the first time, maybe a bit quieter. The interior was comfortable although not as richly appointed as the Volt or LEAF, but still very nice. Acceleration was exactly as I remembered it, I'm guessing 0-60 in about 10-11 seconds. There is an "eco mode", but it's not the same as that in the LEAF. They have it programmed to increase the regen quite a bit, much more than the LEAF, so I liked that.

Kitty took her turn behind the wheel on the drive back and was similarly impressed. David says that Mitsubishi will be selling these by November of this year, so they'll beat the Ford Focus EV to market. Even better is the price. David says they will sell a fully loaded iMiEV for under $30K before incentives. Here in California, that means you could purchase one for under $20K after state and federal incentives. This is great news as it opens up a much larger market for new EVs. I see this as a perfect college car, low cost to buy, very inexpensive to operate, and your kid won't be driving to Vegas, at least until we get those DC Quick Chargers installed:~)

Upon arrival back at the charger, my LEAF was filled to the 80% level, not full. Apparently, and this was news to me, if you start the fast charge with less than 50% state of charge (SOC), the charger will automatically stop at 80%, but if you start with more than 50% SOC, it will take you all the way to 100%, but slowing down as it gets toward full. This is a software feature in the LEAF, not in the charger. Maybe some of the Nissan engineers who read this blog will tell us the reason for this feature. My preference would be to take it all the way to full, even if it has to go much slower for the last 20%.

35 comments:

  1. Paul,
    Great post on the fast charging option. We need more stations like this one.

    Any word on when the 2012 Leafs will start showing up on dealer lots ?

    Thanks,
    Kyle Dansie
    http://www.evalbum.com/3175

    ReplyDelete
  2. Zevutah, thanks for the nice words. It looks like the 2012 model will start arriving late October or in November. As of this week, Nissan has delivered over 6,600 LEAFs in the U.S.

    Santa Monica Nissan has delivered about 250 of those, and I've delivered about 125 of that. I love my job! I can't wait till the Tennessee plant opens next year and we start making 150,000 units just for North America. That's going to be fun.
    :~)

    ReplyDelete
  3. How much will the fast chargers cost? And what does a normal charger cost?

    Thanks,

    Andy (Saralegal)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Andy,
    I believe the fast Level 3 'Chademo' DC chargers are $12-$25K...wholesale!

    The Chademo Level 3 is truly a charger and connects directly to the high-voltage DC battery pack, while the Level 1&2 'chargers'(EVSE) are actually a sort of interface between the AC Outlet and the charger built-IN the EV.
    The on-board charger converts the AC to high-voltage DC to match the pack voltage.

    Level 2 EVSE for home use are now, or will soon be, available from about $750 plus installation, and through sources such as Home Depot or Lowes.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Paul -

    Great post on a real world example of DC Level 2 charging.

    When I saw the 380vdc, 120amps, my first thought was: I wonder how hot the cables and traction pack are getting?

    Did you reach behind the LEAF's Jari connector to see how warm the cable might be getting? I've not been around a LEAF enough to know, but can you get your hand on the traction pack or box at any point? If so, did you check for heat there? Is there a battery temperature display on the LEAF, if so what did it say? I wonder if the 80 percent SOC cutoff when starting your charge under 50 percent is due to heat accumulation?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Paul,

    I like the fact that these Quick Charging Stations are being deployed because they solve many of the worries people have about EVs running out of power or taking too long to charge. I really like the design of the charging station too ... very cool and futuristic looking while being functional by off-setting the actual electricity you just used in your vehicle.

    Mark Machuszek

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Paul,

    Cute little cars. What's the driving range per charge?

    ReplyDelete
  8. elaterite, I wish I had checked the battery temp gauge. Next time I will. I don't know it it's possible to feel the pack that closely, but if it is, it would be underneath the car. There's a bit of protection, of course, so you couldn't feel too well.

    Mark, yes, a few of these in the right places would greatly expend our overall range.

    Tim, I easily and regularly get 100-120 miles of range. I drive efficiently. It's a fun game, actually, I really have learned a lot about driving from point A to B safely and will the least amount of energy without holding up people around me. Coasting is mandatory.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now I'm so glad I got the fast-charge port. Cypress is not far from our home, I'll see if they will let me charge there.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've used the quick charger in Cypress twice now. It's a beautiful thing! It is available 8-5p.m. Monday-Friday only at this point. The Level 2 chargers are available 24/7 from what I understand.

    elaterite, the system does get slightly warm, but nothing like what I expected. My battery temp gauge did not move when I charged to about 90% (10.4 kwh in 22 min) or the second time where I charged to 80% in about 20 min (8kwh I think). The Level 2 is a different story, after a while, some serious heat comes from under the wheel wells. After a month with the car, it seems that Nissan did an excellent job in engineering, the car is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  11. news from Colorado:
    "Free Plug-Ins for Electric Vehicles Likely Won't Last" (due to the high cost of construction of the facilities.) Will private providers step up, or are there other ways, like requiring developers to provide them?
    http://www.planetizen.com/node/51493

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Paul --

    Thank you posting this report, I enjoyed reading it. I'm wondering if you remembered the number of bars displayed on the battery gauge before you plugged in at Mitsubishi HQ. Was it about five bars by any chance? Also, the 380V you reported was an even number or did you round it up or down a bit? We are doing some comparative research on the MNL forum and have only a few voltage readouts so far. This would be quite helpful.

    http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=1401&start=180#p109497

    Best,
    George

    ReplyDelete
  13. Charged my LEAF at the Mitsu HQ last Thursday while on my way to the OC Auto Show. We need more DC quick chargers...a lot more....

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post on the fast charging option.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Paul,
    I hear rumor that Santa Monica Nissan is no more and that you are working at another dealership.

    Is that true ? Can you give us any details on what is going on in your part of town ?

    Still waiting for the Leaf to show up here in Utah.

    KJD
    http://www.evalbum.com/3175

    ReplyDelete
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