Fast-charging stations could be a major boon to the nascent electric vehicle industry, but don’t expect them to become as common or as easy to use as gas stations anytime soon. Plenty of obstacles remain, and businesses might want to wait until the standards issues have been settled before placing any big bets.
Cutting electric vehicle charging time from hours to minutes is a holy grail of the car charging industry. But plenty of bumps lie ahead for the dream of a gas station equivalent for the EV market.
Five of Japan’s heavyweights in the auto and power industries — Toyota (s TM), Nissan (s NSANY), Mitsubishi Motors, Fuji Heavy Industries and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the country’s largest utility — have joined forces to try and speed the adoption of a standard quick-charging system for electric vehicles.
Each of these companies has some skin in the electric car game, and the firms announced a partnership this morning dubbed the CHAdeMO Association. As explained in today’s release, CHAdeMO (an abbreviation of “charge for moving,” as well as a pun translated to, “Let’s have a tea while charging”) is also the trade name for the quick-charging system that the group is proposing as a global industry standard.
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Things just got a little cozier between Norwegian electric car company Think and one of its U.S. investors, Ener1 (s HEV). EnerDel, the battery-making subsidiary of Ener1 (s HEV), already had a major contract with Think to supply batteries for the company’s electric City model, as well as “supplier of choice” status. Now, in a press conference at the Washington Auto Show, Think has named EnerDel the exclusive battery supplier for Think City vehicles sold in the U.S. through 2012.
The automaker, which hopes to secure funding from the Department of Energy to set up manufacturing in the U.S., also announced a new partnership today with AeroVironment (s AV) to work on fast charging for the Think City. AeroVironment, which provides charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, will work with Think under the agreement on demonstration and commercial projects using AeroVironment’s Level 3 charging system (chargers are classified as Level 1, 2 or 3 based on how much power they can provide). Read More about Think Hands EnerDel Exclusive U.S. Battery Deal, Heads for Faster Charging
The week marches on and today being Saturday means it is time to recap the recent happenings in the world of Windows Mobile. The end of the year has seen things quiet on the Windows Mobile front, although Microsoft (s msft) is looking to fill some jobs that may change that this year. Reports show several job listings for xbox and WinMo that looks to integrate the two platforms, turning Windows Mobile into a mobile gaming platform. Microsoft is looking for a program manager and some software engineers to bring Xbox Live games to Windows Mobile. Game on.
LG has released a pico projector option for the eXpo phone on AT&T (s t) running Windows Mobile. The projector add-on snaps onto the back of the eXpo to project the screen onto a flat surface. The projected image is 480×320 and can be used to watch movies or make presentations with Mobile Powerpoint. An add-on gadget like this projector makes a lot of sense for business travelers, with the ability to make a quick presentation right in the pocket.
It’s far too early to condemn a product market when shipping products don’t exist, but frankly, I’m worried. Yesterday saw what’s likely the first smartbook, although the device could be a design prototype. It’s made by Lenovo, powered by Qualcomm and will be sold by AT&T. I’m fine with those three pieces of the puzzle, but not so much with the device itself. From the picture and the expectations being set on future devices in this class, I see a huge problem — it’s an underpowered netbook with no gain in portability. The device reminds me of an OLPC running a fresher version of Linux.
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Ready to make that grueling San Francisco to Los Angeles roadtrip . . . in an electric vehicle? Yeah, that doesn’t sound so great given the current limited range of EVs, but solar installer SolarCity has decided to lend a hand and has built a set of four solar electric-car charging stations along U.S. Route 101. SolarCity is calling the project the world’s first solar-powered electric-car charging corridor, and the stations have been built in parking lots belonging to Rabobank, the California subsidiary of the Dutch banking group, in Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria and Goleta. The project was built using funds from the California Air Resources Board as well as grid electricity and space donated by Rabobank.
The stations start to address what has been a major deterrent with electric vehicles -– the fact that they have ranges much smaller than that of gasoline cars. While some advocates scoff at the issue, pointing out that most Americans commute less than 35 miles per day, car companies worry that mainstream drivers will be reluctant to buy cars that they can’t take on road trips. As it is, electric-car drivers are afraid to drive far from their chargers.
Read More about Electric Car Roadtrip! Courtesy of SolarCity