Fast-Charging Adds Appeal To Electric Cars—Especially In Portland Page 2

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On all of these models, fast-charge capability adds hundreds of dollars to the cost of the vehicle—and some weight—but in many cases, that added flexibility makes it worthwhile. DC fast chargers have the potential to make tremendous improvements in the usability of electric vehicles—allowing us to occasionally do more daily driving, or help ease the range anxiety surrounding the need for unexpected, additional errands.

Large-scale projects—and aspirations

AeroVironment DC fast charger

AeroVironment DC fast charger

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Other installers of fast-charger infrastructure include AeroVironment, which is installing them in Oregon and Washington as part of a West Coast Electric Highway initiative; and EVGo, which has seven rapid chargers in the Houston area. The Chicago area and Detroit have also recently seen their first DC fast-charger installations.

As part of the EV Project, which was started in October of 2009, under a Department of Energy award announced in August of 2009. ECOtality and other charging companies have been covering the cost of chargers—including rapid chargers, and up to $1,200 per installation—in exchange for access to their charging data. And so far, the project has collected 13 million miles of data.

ECOtality has been keeping an eye on how it can make its fast-charging stations profitable, or on the track to profitability, after the EV Project ends later this year. “Looking ahead, we tried to accommodate two standards,” said Karner, pointing to the two connectors that are part of its Blink DC fast charger. And that might mean adding a different quick-charge connector when the SAE coalition (which created the J-1772 connector standard) decides to introduce its own standard.

Also needed before fast-chargers are installed in many more places—like in the East Coast, which is currently devoid of them—is a way for charger companies and businesses to profit in some way from the service.

“Free charging is not a sustainable thing,” said Karner, “Companies aren't going to put in money for chargers if there's no return for it.”

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