Washington's I-5 To Become America's First "Electric Highway"

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2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - charging point

2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - charging point

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Construction workers digging a hole at a rest stop doesn't sound like something that would be of interest to electric-car owners. But the end result of their efforts might be.

This is because work has begun in preparing Washington stretch of the I5 to become an "Electric highway". Whilst this sounds like something George Jetson or Philip J. Fry would use to get to work, the reality is much more in the here and now, (but just as futuristic).

The idea is simply that every 40 to 60 miles along the freeway, a rest stop will offer a fast charger to allow electric vehicles to recharge their batteries so they can make longer trips.

The task at the moment is just to get the electrical cabling into place. Then, in the summer, the charging units will be fitted. It is hoped that by then there will be a little more clarity on what connector they should use.

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

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We hope the charging stations will be the  Level 3 type that you would expect with the term "rapid charger", but they also may also be the slower level 2 240V fast chargers you see in shopping malls or installed in homes. At the moment, only the 2011 Nissan Leaf can make use of the 30 minute recharge to 80% offered by the Level 3 rapid chargers.  Next year, the 2012 Mitsubishi i will also support the technology, but all other electric cars on the market only support the slower Level 2 charging stations. 

Regardless of type or speed the charge points will undoubtedly be welcome to any electric vehicle owner wishing to extend the range of their car beyond the distance one single charge can provide.

[Q13 Fox News]

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Comments (13)
  1. My question is.. will there be standard 110-240 plug access for converted vehicles as well?

  2. "It is hoped that by then there will be a little more clarity on what connector they should use."
    Umm... These will be CHAdeMO DC Quick Chargers. No question about it...

  3. The project calls for Level 3 Fast Charge, so CHAdeMO is not a given.

  4. RE: RJGould: These will be CHAdeMO chargers and could also include J1772-2010 chargers as well. If you have a conversion, you could use a J1772-2010 to NEMA 14-50 adapter. They are sold on ebay, just search for J1772 and you'll find them. You should be able to draw up to 32 amps depending on who's EVSE they install.

  5. Level2 with a J1772 will make it sort of "universal", not for the few.........

  6. Level2 with a J1772 will make it sort of "universal", not for the few.........

  7. "Fast charger" is a misnomer. 30 minutes to charge isn't fast.
    My time is worth far more than the time it takes to wait for an EV to charge.
    EV's will not be adopted by the masses for long travel until the charging time is equal to that of filling up your gasoline car.
    Hugging polar bears, contrived climate apocalyptic scenarios and higher gas prices won't change this.

  8. @ Bert: In the last 2 years charging times have gone from 9 hours to 30 minutes or less. Everyone but you can see the trend.

  9. Bert has a valid point that fast charging isn't "fast"... but the point is based on a widespread misconception that an EV future will emulate the old "gas-station model" of refueling. EVs will get the vast majority of recharging while you sleep at the convenient location of your home. Unfortunately, the "infrastructure tail" too often wags the EV dog and Joe average thinks he will be stopping at a charging station every day. These charging stations are more a contingency than your everyday planned use. If you need to drive so much every day then you are not much of an environmentalist and/or maybe you should just buy a Prius or TDI.

  10. I thought fast-charging was harmful to the battery or at least shortened the battery's life.

  11. With current technologies, yes fast charging can stress the battery and reduce it's life. But battery technology continues to improve, and was mentioned above, fast charging should not be the way you typically charge your EV. In day to day operation you would just plug in at night and have a full charge in the morning. However on occasion if you need to go farther than the range of the battery, you can have the option of renting a car, or taking a break from driving while your car recharges.

  12. With a 300 mile range and a 45 minute recharge, the battery recharge time is plenty fast enough, since most travelers will be stopping at those intervals to eat anyway. Claiming that electrics need to refuel at the same rate as gas cars is absurd - most times the EV owner will actually spend less time refueling, since he doesn't have to drive to a gas station : just walk to the garage or carport, or parking space.

  13. As Jeff & Kent said, EV's "tanks" are already full each morning when you get to the car. So Bert, next time you're huggin' a barrel of oil ponder this. Every time you've gone out of your way to spend "only 5 minutes" in a gas station, EV drivers have been avoiding even that little inconvenience for months at a time, prior to considering a charge, fast or slow, while on the road.
    No smog checks, oxygen sensor, PCV valve or timing belt replacements, no spark plugs, no oil filter changes, no stops in gas stations at all. Seems like folks who really value their time may want to look at taking all of these maintenance items out of their schedules.

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