By the year 2020 electric vehicles could be about 15 percent of new car sales in North America, Europe, China and Japan. However, it’s mostly educated guessing at this point, especially since rumors are that in 2010, there was just a single Prius purchased in China. Still, an expanding electric car market will eventually lead us to consider ways of “fueling” those cars. Imagine heading out to an important meeting and finding out – oops, you forgot to plug in the car last night. Since the usual household electrical circuit takes about ten hours to fully charge up an electric car, you’ll be out of luck unless there are “fueling” stations that can quickly charge an electric car. This is the thinking behind an effort by the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) to agree on one common standard for charging electric vehicles quickly – the fast charge. Without a standard there could be an endless array of incompatible designs.
The problem for the SAE people is that their “standard” may be arriving too late in the game. A Japanese Consortium is already at work on its quick charging method known as, CHAdeMO, which translates to “charge for moving.” The Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV are being built to this standard. The SAE standards won’t be ready for the consumer market until around 2013 at which point the CHAdeMO method will be in use with thousands of fast charge stations. Rumors are that by this year end there will already be 500 CHAdeMO stations in the US alone. And as always there is much discussion as to which standard is safer or better. Meanwhile automakers either have to build electric cards for both standards or try to pick one. While Nissan likes the CHAdeMO, BMW which is rolling out its first mass market, electric car in 2013, will go with the SAE. For now there’s diesel and gasoline and E85 and well, maybe fueling stations will adjust.
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