2011 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
Are electric cars being held back by a lack of convenient charging points? Or do more electric cars need to be produced in order for a demand for electric vehicle charging points to be large enough to justify installing them?
And should charging stations be ones offering a 240V, 30A top-off charge, or should they be fast chargers offering an 80% charge in around 30 minutes?
It's a conundrum that many in the electric vehicle industry have sought to answer for some time. And there's no consensus.
Many existing electric car owners, EV advocates and even some industry professionals argue that since electric cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf can travel 100 miles per charge, charging stations away from the home are not essential to EV success.
However, range anxiety and fear-mongering from mainstream media and anti-EV commentators argues that unless there is an abundance of charging stations in existence, no-one will want to drive an EV.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car at quick charging stationEnlarge Photo
Built by NEC subsidiary Takasago, the fast-charging station is capable of charging the 2011 Nissan Leaf to 80% full in twenty minutes.
Installed in a public parking garage in part of the World Trade Center international conference center in downtown Portland, the charger has been installed as part of Portland General Electric's commitment to electric car infrastructure.
Starting in fall 2010, more than 2,000 charging stations will be installed throughout Oregon, but this is the first fast-charge point.
Interestingly, the Takasago Rapid Charging Station uses the CHAdeMO charging standard, which has been developed in Japan to provide fast charging for EVs. While the standard is not likely to be implemented as an official charging standard in the U.S. market, CHAdeMO offers the fastest charge rate of any production EV charging standard on the market.
So, who can use the charging point?
While the fast charging station is free to use, entrance to the garage charges $3 to park for the time needed to use the charger.
And while Portland has a high number of electric vehicles already, most of them are D.I.Y conversions which will not be able to make use of the high-power CHAdaMO connector.
Right now, the only vehicles we can think of which are able to use the system are Nissan's 2011 Leaf, which won't reach consumers until December this year and Mitsubishi's 2011 i-Miev, which Mitsubishi have yet to publicly plan a roll-out for.
Even though the charger won't get much use until this Winter, expect this to be the first of many fast-charger roll-outs, proving that the world is getting ready for EVs.