DC Fast Charging: Mitsubishi Says You Can Do It Every Day

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If you're considering a Nissan Leaf optioned with Level 3 DC quick-charging, you've probably been told, as we have, that you shouldn't make too regular a habit of getting a quick charge. Doing it daily, or even a few times a week, is probably a little too often.

But the answer from Mitsubishi officials, regarding the quick-charge option on the new 2012 Mitsubishi i, is quite different.

“We expect a daily quick charge not to have a significant toll on battery life,” said Bryan Arnett, manager of EV product strategy for Mitsubishi Motors North America.

According to Arnett, the company has expected that its batteries will retain 80 percent of their original charge after ten years—and that includes a consideration that the battery might be frequently quick-charged. It would be bad if the battery were to be quick-charged every time, he said, but not in the context of extending range midday, between overnight charges.

80 percent charge, in 20-30 min

As we experienced again in our recent First Drive of the U.S.-spec 2012 Mitsubishi i (or i-MiEV), it's nice to know that quick chargers can pinch-hit, in about the time it takes to grab a quick lunch. According to Mitsubishi, DC quick-charging will bring battery charge from zero up to 80 percent in just 20 to 30 minutes (with most of that variability linked to battery temperature).

The Leaf can be charged to 100 percent if you're willing to wait an hour or more, but Mitsubishi has limited the charge the battery pack in the i can get from quick-charging to 80 percent—thus avoiding the heat-related worries that cause the process to slow as you near a full charge (and can reduce the battery's life).

While the i takes 22.5 hours to charge up from zero charge remaining on a typical (110V) household socket (due to the charger's rather low 8 amps), charge times are just seven hours with 220V charging—including the Eaton home charger that's available, via Mitsubishi, at Best Buy, at a price of about $700 plus installation costs, which can vary widely.

Hundreds in Japan; dozens coming to Portland, Seattle

The Chademo interface, which is already being used for the Leaf and the soon-to-arrive i, is rapidly becoming quick-charge standard. Mitsubishi has already sold about 11,000 i-MiEV models in Europe and Japan (plus another few thousand, including Peugeot and Citroen versions), and the company has already gathered extensive usage and battery information through a network of hundreds of quick chargers in Japan.

In the U.S., there are very few yet, but they're on the verge of gathering to a critical mass in the Pacific Northwest. There are already two publicly accessible DC quick-charge stations in Portland—both using the Chademo standard—and the Portland public utility PGE, recently reaffirmed its expectation that there will be 30 more DC quick-charge stations to be installed by next spring (all are funded). And that's only part of a broader regional plan that would install Chademo chargers up the I-5 corridor, from the Oregon-California border to Vancouver, British Columbia. In theory, that would allow the occasional day trip to the coast, or up to the mountains.

Other regions nationally are proposing quick-charger networks, but none are deploying them to this degree. So it's not surprising that the Mitsubishi i's initial market is California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.

Tesla, however, is going its own way; the Silicon Valley automaker has announced that it plans to roll out its own Level 3 quick-charge interface with the upcoming 2012 Model S.

Most affordable vehicle with quick-charging

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car at quick charging station

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car at quick charging station

Enlarge Photo
The other thing the 2012 Mitsubishi i has going for it is that, when optioned as such, it's the most affordable new EV with rapid charging. The Chademo charge capability will be included in the $2,790 Premium Package, or available as a standalone option for just $700 on the ES model—bringing the bottom-line price as low as $29,825 (or $22,325 including the $7,500 federal tax credit) with quick-charge capability.
 
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