As onboard chargers and DC fast-charging stations get more powerful, cables could become the limiting factor in electric-car charging speed. Supplier Huber+Suhner has developed a next-generation cable that should enable faster charging.
The new cable is the first to allow continuous charging at 500 amps, according to the company, which currently supplies cables to Electrify America. That capability allows charging networks and automakers to take full advantage of existing charging hardware.
It would make way for the Porsche Taycan's original target of up to 350-kilowatt charging, as it might theoretically permit vehicles built on an 800-volt charging system to charge at up to 400 kW—versus the theoretical 320-kw peak afforded by 400A cables.
It's been two years since Electrify America switched on its first 350-kW station in the United States but there still aren't any passenger vehicles that can take advantage of it.
That might change soon, with a number of vehicles targeting higher power and/or higher voltage. Hyundai and Kia, for instance, are anticipated to leap to 800V in their upcoming electric cars and offer sub-20-minute recharge times.
Porsche already has a prototype that's charging at up to 450 kW at 800V.
Achieving these targets requires more robust cables. Huber+Suhner's new generation of cables are liquid-cooled—as any cable handling this level of current needs to be—and are backed up by separate cooling units for the power lines that feed them.
Those cooling units are "plug and play," according the supplier. They come pre-filled with coolant, and can fit into existing charging stations.
While they add expense and complexity, higher-performance cables will likely be required in charging stations going forward to keep pace with advancing charge rates—in turn needed to accommodate larger battery packs for greater range in a bulkier and more truck-focused next wave of electric vehicles.