Field Trial: Level 3 Quick-Charging Two EVs

Posted on 20. Apr, 2012 by in Auto News

After more than a year with our 2011 Nissan Leaf, we finally have the opportunity last week to load with one of the first public Level 3 fast chargers installed in Chicago. We have our hand with a dedicated quick-charge port (then a $ 700 option, is now standard on the SL trim level), but with the exception of an experimental mobile unit of real power, which we visited last summer, the high-voltage fast chargers which were part of the promise to make life easier with an electric vehicle, to not appear.

Delay is mainly because the manufacturer was struggling to manage the certified hardware and networking to billing. It was a day of firsts for us, since it was also the first time we paid, to calculate an EV public. Level 2, or 240-volts, charge the public was free for us, until now.

We chose a fast-charging location at a "cell phone parking lot" from Chicago Midway Airport. This is where you can sit and wait for your loved ones, instead of the double-parking to get into the arrivals lanes generate the ire of airport security. This is where one of three confirmed operational level 3 QCs, the city has been installed on the road to a planned 73 – together with 207 Level 2 installations – is.

The second option was a tollway oasis, where most fast chargers appear, and the third in a pay parking – the latter a strange choice, since you pay to end as well as parking pay the loading fee, the city has set at $ 7 per session. We went to Midway with our Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i – the only other current EV with a quick charge port.

This fast chargers are different on a network is a from our usual. (Can you say Betamax versus VHS?) We have. Level 2 shop for more than a year on the network Fresh out of the post, our prepaid CharJit NIC ( was loaded with $ 21 dollars, and if I knocked at the kiosk I was instructed in the car jack and press Start.

Unlike the regular pistol grip terminal on Level 1 and Level 2 charging cable (named J1772), use fast chargers have a larger diameter plug, called CHAdeMO. Instead of a single trigger sensitivity, it has a key plus a separate release lever. I suspect this is connected with easy to use, once you know how – and I clearly did not. Co-workers compared it comes to start an electric hedge trimmer. After a few false starts, I took it from its dock and put it in the paper.

When I pressed the start button, the charging process, as signaled by the blue light starts up against the dashboard sheet. We started with a stopwatch. In theory, a Level 3 charger offering a 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Our Leaf battery-level indicator started with a bar of 12 or just over 8%, with a predicted range of 12 miles. The range of two to three miles a minute of loading increases. For comparison, we are glad that our Leaf second in 10 miles range for every hour of charging on stage

As the minutes passed, slowed the charge. By the 10-minute mark, it was instead about two miles range per minute of three. After about 20 minutes, adding a mile a minute most of the time. After 30 minutes, and a predicted range of 79 miles, the session ended. The battery level meter showed eight bars of 12 This is a 67% state of charge, we are clearly not achieved our goal.

Rather than spend another $ 7 for 1-2 more bars, we handed off the Mitsubishi ia. The only difference with this car was the sound of a loud fan to accompany the download. (The paper has no fan.) Mitsubishi began his battery half full, not allowing field monitoring during charging, but within 10 minutes, the session was ended. According to the Mitsubishi bar chart, it had taken around 75%, which I will accept as good enough.

Why the difference between the two? It is in part because the Mitsubishi smaller battery, whereby it requires 50% to 75% less energy. I'm more concerned about the leaf-session and the way we've been charged.

There are a lot of fine print to own an electric car, and now, Level 3 is available, we can see there are small print for quick charging, too. As at Level 2, the quick-charging rate depends on the temperature. A recent revision of our sheet manual explains that rapid charging can take up to 90 minutes or longer, depending on the temperature. The optimum temperature of the battery on a track on the dashboard is seven or eight bars from 12th Here's the problem: our Leaf battery-temp gauge never been under four segments or six extreme seasons in Chicago.

During our field tests, it was a pleasant 52 degrees F. Does this mean that before it even slower when they were 42 or 32 degrees? Our Level 2 Experience shows that this is likely.

Knowing that the much marketed 30-minute quick charge time is actually a loose guide, could the City of Chicago of the 30-minute time-out is a problem for anyone who wants to fill a sheet of 80%.

Our second session also automatically terminated when the Mitsubishi charge to hit the target. Probably because we pay per session rather than per minute, the 20 remaining minutes were lost by this session. So, for a car that we paid $ 7 and not the full load and for the second car, we paid an additional $ 7 and received 24% of the fee. If we had a second session started for the Leaf, to top it off, we would have used a partial session and paid $ 14 total for a 80% charge.

Obviously, this scheme is not good, but you can not necessarily blame the operator. It seems logical, for what you pay, but in most states only regulated public utilities are the kilowatt-hour bill allowed – something that is in question. Until that changes, public-store providers must bill or meeting time. After one attempt, it seems to be the better way to go.

If we are billed by the minute, we could have kept our sheet in place until it was full and then rounded out the Mitsubishi, and we still have not been paid for a full 60 minutes. With this arrangement could EV drivers to stop and calculate for five to 10 minutes to reach their dangerous rather than the battery low, to be sure, and is worth the money to extend to a flat-fee session.

Let the operating costs: The best-case scenario is that we paid $ 7 and let our Leaf battery 80% full. The EPA estimates that the Leaf range is 73 miles for a full battery, so the 80% range is 58.4 miles on the $ 7. Even with gasoline at nearly $ 4 a gallon, a Toyota Prius, rated 50 mpg combined, can travel almost twice as far for the same money. A less efficient gas-powered car would be in the ballpark.

Fast charging is convenient, but at this pace, it would clearly not want to make a habit of it. The electric car advantage comes from charging at home, which costs less than $ 3 for a complete charge. Another question is how much will cost a Level 2 public charge. We analyze that in a future post.

All photos by Evan Sears for