It's no secret that in addition to short driving range, electric cars often also suffer from lengthy recharging times. Nissan, for instance, says its Leaf electric car takes between seven and 21 hours to fully recharge. Now Volvo is testing a new fast-charger that the company claims is six times more powerful than conventional chargers. It can fully replenish the batteries in the company's experimental C30 electric in just 90 minutes.
The 440-volt, three-phase charger uses a 32-amp power supply to fully replenish the C30 electric's batteries in 90 minutes -- and in 30 minutes, the charger can give the battery enough juice to drive about 50 miles. That's compared to a total charging time of eight to ten hours if Volvo C30 electric owners use a standard European 220-volt socket.
Volvo will install the new fast-charger in limited quantities for trials with the C30 electric. Volvo distributed about 250 C30 electric cars across Europe and China last fall. The experimental car has an electric motor with 111 hp and a lithium-ion battery pack, giving a driving range of about 93 miles per charge. The regular Volvo C30 hatchback, on which this electric version is based, will be phased out after the 2013 model year as the Swedish company takes its new products in a different direction.
"The user can 'top up' the battery pack with electricity one or more times during the day," Volvo vice president of electric propulsion systems Lennart Stegland said in a statement. "The fast-charging unit helps cure what is known as 'range anxiety' since the car can be more easily recharged."
American electric-car company Tesla hopes to tackle range anxiety and long charging times with its new network of Supercharger stations. The facilities will be set up along major highways to let Tesla owners charge their car with 120 miles of driving range in just 30 minutes.