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Recharge your electric vehicle in 20 minutes starting later this year

The takes-forever-to-recharge-an-EV reason not to buy an electric vehicle may not be a problem much longer. Engineers from BMW and General Motors say an electric vehicle can be 80% recharged in about 20 minutes using a new specification developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers. It calls for a single standardized connector that accepts DC fast charging, the one that will get you back on the road quickly, as well as less speedy AC and DC charging. BMW and GM got there first with Fast Charge testing signoff, but Audi, Chrysler, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Porsche, and Volkswagen are onboard with the same SAE DC fast charge specs. At the same time, multiple suppliers of charging equipment are signed on: ABB, Aker Wade, Eaton, and IES.


The committed are a who’s-who of the world’s EV automakers except for Japan, which has been forging a different path on connectors. Whether the combined might of the DC fast charge signatories brings the Japanese automakers around remains to be seen. You’ve seen this before with Blu-Ray and HD DVD; eventually, a single standard emerges and the losers, like Toshiba with HD DVD, lick their wounds and move on, at which point the new technology starts to gain market share.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV – high tech electric city car priced
First Fast Charge spec cars to market: BMW i3, Chevrolet Spark EV

The first two cars employing DC fast charge to go on sale would be the BMW i3 city car and the Chevrolet Spark EV. BMW head of sales Ian Robertson says an incredible 100,000 people worldwide have placed reservations on the i3, according to Automotive News Europe. This for a car that will likely cost at least $40,000, this from a company that sells 1,500,000 BMW passenger cars a year. In comparison, a Nisson Leaf runs about $30,000, but it doesn’t have a carbon fiber body shell or the BMW propeller emblem on the hood. The Leaf does, however, have two charging ports: one for AC, one for DC quick charge. “Reservations” doesn’t mean the 100,000 all put money down, but they at least have signed up for a test drive.

The Spark will be base-priced at $27,495. Chevrolet cites 82 miles of range on a full charge, and an efficiency rating of 119 MPG3, meaning what you pay for electricity to charge the car is equal to driving a gas-engine far that gets 119 miles per gallon. Both cars are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500; California adds a tax credit of up to $2,500 and allows single-occupant EVs to be driving in the HOV (carpool) lanes, at least until EV sales take off so much the HOV lanes are no faster than regular lanes. That happened with hybrids last decade and HOV rights were rescinded.

“Our goal … was to ensure that DC fast charging strations be available to provide BMW i3 customers the premium fast charging experience in time for the arrival of the BMW i3,” says Cliff Fietzek, manager of connected e-mobility at BMW of North America. First deliveries are expected to be in November 2013.


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