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Recent Technology Trends in EV Quick Charger Equipment, Chargers and Power Supply Equipment

October 7, 2014 in Electric Vehicles, EV charging, EV News


Worldwide, electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly more prevalent as a means for realizing a low-carbon society. Factors important to the proliferation of EVs are (1) EV prices, (2) the cruising range per charge and (3) putting in place a charging infrastructure. The onboard batteries on EVs can also be used to supply power to homes during the day, thereby reducing household electricity charges, as well as providing a dependable source of power in the event of a power outage. Such batteries can also absorb excess power generated by renewable energy sources, helping to stabilize the power grid. Growing attention is focusing on products that support smart activities with functions outside the automotive arena. Here, we will discuss EV Quick Charger equipment and recent technologies involving chargers and power supply equipment that make use of new functionality.

Mitsubishi Motors led the market for the mass production of EVs with the i-MiEV, which launched in 2009. Following this introduction were the Nissan LEAF and EVs launched by automakers around the world including Volkswagen, BMW, General Motors and Tesla. Some 250,000 EVs have been sold to date. In Japan, sales remain limited, despite public–private efforts such as a subsidy program by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. One reason that EVs are not more popular than they are is their typically short cruising range. Even though the government has sought to offset their short travel range by subsidizing the installation of rapid-charging equipment, there are still not enough in service. One reason the installed base of rapid-charging equipment has not expanded was the problem of how to collect fees for charging, but this issue is now being addressed through the introduction of billing systems.

The “Vision for a Charging Infrastructure” that Japanese municipalities have created places utmost importance on the public nature of this infrastructure, prioritizing the erection of equipment on core motorways that EV owners use. Specifically, this vision divides charging points into the following three categories.

(1) Home-base charging Condominium parking lots, monthly parking lots, etc.
(2) En-route charging Service areas, roadway stations,
gasoline stations,convenience stores, etc.
(3) Destination-point charging Theme parks, shopping centers, etc.

For home-base charging, individual administrative areas are establishing their own vision and encouraging the erection of equipment in condominium and pay-by-the-month parking lots.

For enroute charging, the vision calls for the installation of rapid-charging equipment in designated priority areas, based on the Road Traffic Census. Plans also call for the installation of charging equipment in locations designed to stimulate tourism, such as at hot springs and other tourist locations, as well as roadway train stations.

Destination-point charging tends to concentrate on installations at theme parks, shopping centers and the like. The distribution industry is making a proactive push to install rapid-charging equipment in locations such as these.

In the past, many electrical charging points were provided free of charge, using rapid-charging equipment provided as demonstration experiments. Going forward, increasing the number of locations without regard for location will necessitate a billing system that compensates operators for the running costs they incur. Manufacturers of rapid-charging equipment are introducing a lineup of billing-capable products.

(Photo 1) EV Quick Charger Space-saving rapid-charging equipment, billing-capable, with output of 20–50kW Image courtesy of NICHICON

(Photo 1) EV Quick Charger
Space-saving rapid-charging equipment, billing-capable,
with output of 20–50kW
Image courtesy of NICHICON

(Photo 1) EV Quick Charger

NICHICON also offers a lineup of billing-capable products (photo 1). In this billing system, rapid-charging equipment communicates wirelessly with the control server. Information from a previously registered IC card or read from a QR (Quick Response) code by a smart phone or mobile phone authenticates the user, allowing electrical charging fees to be collected. The party that has installed the equipment determines the fee billed.

In 2012, NICHICON and Nissan Motors launched the EV Power Station standard model (photo 2) vehicle-to-home (V2H) system that uses an EV onboard lithium-ion battery to supply household power. This product was the world’s first V2H system that provided power to the home from an EV. This EV Power Station takes advantage of cheaper nighttime electricity rates to charge the EV. During the daytime hours, this power is shifted to household use. This arrangement allows a reduction in the amount of power purchased from the grid during the daytime, thereby reducing daytime electricity charges (figure 1).

In July 2014, the system’s EV applicability was expanded to allow connectivity to Mitsubishi Motors’ i-MiEV, MINICAB-MiEV and MINICAB-MiEV TRUCK models.

System diagram of the EV Power Station, standard model/high-performance model Image courtesy of NICHICON

System diagram of the EV Power Station,
standard model/high-performance model (figure 1)
Image courtesy of NICHICON

EV Power Station Characteristics

(1) Uses an EV onboard battery to supply household power
(2) Allows power to be supplied to equipment in the home via a household distribution board
(3) Supplies power up to 6kVA
(4) System configuration prevents power from flowing back to the grid
(5) Double-speed EV charging function (compared with 200V AC connection)
(6) Complies with CHAdeMO Association charging standards

The product concept of the newly developed high-performance model is to boost efficiency and enhance installation scalability. The model uses a tablet-type in-room remote controller that allows remote operation and enables operational status and various types of data to be checked easily. It uses a transponder unit to permit combined application with all-electric homes and other residences with high electrical demands, as well as with cogeneration functions. To make it easier to use, the model also comes equipped with a newly developed lightweight connector and slim cabling.

EV Power Station, standard model (photo 2) EV Power Station, high-performance model (photo 3)  Photos courtesy of NICHICON

EV Power Station, standard model (photo 2)
EV Power Station, high-performance model (photo 3)
Photos courtesy of NICHICON

Expectations for realizing a low-carbon society through the increased proliferation of EVs are high, and various automakers, including those from overseas, are launching EVs into the market. However, short travel ranges and high costs are limiting their uptake. On the other hand, different from vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, EVs are more than simple mobility devices. They offer new types of value. For example, by combining them with V2H systems, they can be instrumental in supplying power to the home during the day and during outages. They can also help to stabilize the power grid. In Japan, where renewable energy is growing sharply, EV Power Stations and the charging functionality that makes use of EVs are heralded for use in storage battery systems that can help stabilize the power grid. The high-performance V2H systems introduced here are highly compatible with cogeneration equipment, and could accelerate the realization of a low-carbon society.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: NICHICON.

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