If you’ve got a 2011 Nissan Leaf SL you probably ordered it with the included $700 rapid charging port, capable of recharging its 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack to 80 percent full in a little under 30 minutes using an off-board rapid charger.
But direct-current rapid charging stations using the Chademo protocol haven’t been adopted in the U.S., partly due to their size and cost among other reasons.
As a consequence, there are very few public charging stations in existence.
That may change however, with the announcement of a smaller, cheaper, more lightweight rapid charging station from Japanese Nichicon Corporation.
Up to 50 percent smaller and weighing less than a third of any other rapid charging station on the market, the NCQ-202 and CHQ-203 rapid chargers should be easier to install in tight parking lots
At a price of between $25,000 and $27,000 the Nichicon charging stations will also cost a lot less to buy than other larger charging stations -- which have traditionally cost around $40,000 to buy.
However, there is a trade-off for a smaller charging station and a lower purchase price: speed.
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Unlike larger charging stations which are capable of providing up to 50 kilowatts of power to recharge compatible cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i, the Nichicon charging stations can only provide between 20 and 30 kilowatts of power.
This translates to slightly longer recharging times, meaning a car like the 2012 Nissan Leaf would take around an hour to recharge from empty instead of the 30 minutes it takes using a more powerful rapid charging station.
Given the drop in speed, expect the Nichicon charging stations to be best suited to shopping malls and grocery stores rather than freeway rest stops.
[Nichicon via engadget]