China Says “NO!” to U.S. Electric Vehicle Charging Efforts

Okay, so the headline is a bit of a stretch.  On one level, this is a story about a humble restaurateur declining a request by the ShockingBarack tour to recharge their batteries.  As reported on their site:

shockAccess to electricity is not a foregone conclusion. Running on sparks (the  electric equivalent of fumes), we pulled into a Chinese restaurant in Fremont, Ohio, but when we asked if we could plug in, we received an unceremonious “No!” from ownership. And you know what; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We know we aren’t entitled to anyone’s  electricity. We’re grateful when we get it, and we’re not embittered when we don’t.

But as a particularly astute commenter noted:

Thanks for pointing out the lesson in this. Now would not be too early to start talking seriously about standardization of the recharge connectors for vehicles and public recharge stations.

The charging infrastructure needs to be there before we see EVs becoming commonplace.  Oregon, the home state of Brammo, will soon see the benefit of a deal between Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. and the Department of Energy.  From this article:

The Phoenix company, a subsidiary of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based ECOtality Inc., is rolling out more than 11,000 charging stations in five states — Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and California — using $99.8 million in federal funds.

The project is in partnership with Nissan North America, which will deploy 4,700 of its all-electric Leaf vehicles which are scheduled for release in fall 2010.

As part of the project, Oregon expects to receive just under 1,000 of the Nissan vehicles and around 2,000 charging stations, centered around Portland, Eugene, Salem and Corvallis.

California just opened a new long distance charging corridor between Los Angeles and San Francisco:

The corridor, a joint project of the SolarCity firm, which is based in California, Tesla Motors and the United States branch of Holland’s Rabobank, includes four ClipperCreek 240-volt stations at the bank’s branches in Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria (the one with a 30-kilowatt solar installation) and Goleta. A fifth station, installed by SolarCity, is in a public parking garage in San Luis Obispo. Spaced 70 to 100 miles apart along Highway 101, the Rabobank stations would theoretically allow a Tesla Roadster (with more than 220 miles of range) to drive the 382 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles with only one charging stop. Plugging in is free to E.V. owners.

(See California E.V. Corridor Is Open for Business The New York Times By Jim Motavalli )

Unfortunately, those particular charging stations are 220 volt outlets designed for compatibility with the Tesla EV.  Given that the Brammo Enertia will go on sale next week at four Best Buy stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco, it’s a shame that the charging stations did not envision the need for the charging of EVs which require the more common 110 volt outlet.

What’s going on in your state?



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  1. #1 by Domenick on October 16, 2009 - 10:57 am

    Solarcity plans on installing universal chargers once the standards are in place. In the meantime an adapter will have to do. Many electric car owners carry adapters that allow them to take advantage of a variety of plugs.

  2. #2 by Tim Wood on October 16, 2009 - 1:37 pm

    What kind of charging times do Tesla and Brammo owners see? I could see resistance (haha) if EV owners have to wait more than 2-3x the time to refuel with liquid for similar range.

  3. #3 by brammofan on October 16, 2009 - 1:58 pm

    Resistance… very nice. I know that the Enertia, if it’s at about 50%, takes an hour to recharge. If it’s totally depleted, then it’s closer to 3-4 hours. I don’t know about the Tesla. It’s something that can’t necessarily be equated with “filling up” although it seems natural to want to do so. I read yesterday about WalMart putting in charging spots like this which would charge while you’re inside getting your picture taken for I don’t know about your WalMart, but the one near me in Kansas City, well, the lot is FULL of Teslas.

  4. #4 by Jon Azrielant on October 21, 2009 - 10:15 pm

    I agree that we need standards- but there can be no room in those standards for 110V power.

    The problem with supporting 110V recharging at charging stations is that this doubles the time it takes to recharge. While this might not be much of a problem for an electric bike or scooter, this will be a problem for cars that will require 60+ kW/h of juice for a full charge.

    The US is one of the few places left in the world that has not adopted 220V power for all purposes and most appliances these days can take 110-240V power, so shouldn’t we be making efforts to move on from 110V?

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