The 2011 Nissan LEAF represents numerous breakthroughs for EVs. An EV offering real space for five passengers at a price comparable to a midsize sedan is certainly one such breakthrough, but another seldom mentioned breakthrough is the vehicle's tremendous fast-charge capability.
The LEAF;s 48 lithium ion modules offer several different charging methods. Of course there is the standard 100 volt method which takes around 16 hours to charge, and then there the 220 volt connection that cuts the charge time down to half, but what about the fast charge option?
This fast charge feature allows the batteries to be charged to 80 % of its capacity in just 30 minutes adding tremendous convenience to the vehicle. Additionally, in a mere 10 minutes of charging using the fast charge setup you will be able to gain 31 miles of additional range. 5 minutes would get you 15 miles further down the road.
This charging feature makes the vehicle extremely versatile and usable under nearly any situation. A dine in at the local fast food joint would give you nearly enough time to refill the battery. Long road trips, full of frequent stops at rest areas would be possible if these places had fast charging systems.
In addition to the vehicle's charging capability is the vehicle's ability to show you where recharging stations are located within the useful range of the vehicle. This system works in conjunction with the car's GPS system.
In theory the system would work to extend the vehicles range to an almost limitless amount, but there is a catch. The charging system would cost around $45,000 to install it in your own home. For most buyers, the cost would far exceed their budgets and would not be a sensible option.
Instead we must rely on cities and municipalities across the country to install the fast charge stations. Many cities have begun installing such systems, but their appearance is sporadic at best and non-existent in most areas.
So the question remains, will the infrastructure catch up to the EV or will this fast charge capability of the vehicle remain virtually useless for years to come?