New EV Battery Technology Could Lead to Much Faster Charge Times

Buyers who want to own an electric car may soon find there is a solution to the problem of long charging times for the batteries—a solution that may lead to charge times that take no longer than a traditional trip to the gas station. Nissan and Kansai University of Japan report that technology has been developed that will charge electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi iMiEV in as little as ten minutes.

The exact details are still a bit murky, however a recent article states that the major change happening is with the materials used inside either the battery itself or within a capacitor inside the battery. Basically, instead of using carbon, tungsten oxide and vanadium oxide will provide more power, according to Asean Automotive News. When carbon is used, the amount of power that can be dumped into the cell is much less than what they are capable of handling with the new materials, making the batteries much less frail.  With the upgrade, batteries can handle much more energy, enabling them to be charged in very little time with less degradation.

It could take some time for this new technology to become widely available, however. The details are not clear quite yet, but the news is still encouraging for customers who are concerned that charging an electric vehicle is still too time consuming. Currently, electric vehicles require up to eight hours of charge time. The new technology could boost public opinion and confidence in electric vehicles as a viable alternative to the traditional gas powered engine.

Last year, some big carmakers decided to opt out of hardware upgrades that could have cut the eight hour charge time in half. Pike Research reported at the time that buyers would be resistant to the eight hour required down time, saying, “Some consumers are likely to feel they have overpaid for their charging equipment or were shortchanged with their vehicle.”

Currently, the Nissan Leaf still qualifies for a federal tax credit in the U.S. of $7,500. More incentives are being offered to buyers of electrics and hybrids by certain states, including California, Georgia and Illinois. Two major competitors in the electric car market, Chevrolet and Nissan, are competing for market share. The 2012 Leaf is expected to sell for approximately $36,000 to $38,000. The Chevrolet Volt is priced at just under $40,000.

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