Electric vehicles may be cleaner than gasoline-powered cars and cheap to charge, but they come with a major downside: It takes a lot of time to juice them up. But what if EVs could be charged up in the time it takes to go to the bathroom and run into a convenience store for a snack? Nissan is reportedly working on a charger that can juice up an EV in just 10 minutes. It's the kind of thing that could move EVs from the fringe squarely into the mainstream.
As it stands, charging times for EVs vary from up to eight hours all the way down to 30 minutes (to charge a vehicle like the Nissan Leaf to 80% capacity). Ultra-fast chargers are generally not installed in homes because of the large amount of electricity they require.
Now, apparently Nissan and Japan's Kansai University have figured out how to shave the charging time down to just 10 minutes by using a capacitor electrode made of tungsten oxide and vanadium oxide (instead of carbon, which is used in today's chargers) to improve power. According to the New York Daily News, the 10-minute battery charger doesn't have significant impact on voltage or battery storage capacity.
Details are scant, and Nissan has yet to return our request for comment. Apparently, it will take at least a decade before the technology can be commercialized. But it wouldn't be too out of the blue--Nissan recently unveiled a smaller, cheaper quick-charging EV station--and if the reports are true, the new charger could truly revolutionize the automotive landscape.
Consider: All-electric vehicles would finally make sense for long trips. Because while EV owners now have to sit around and wait potentially for hours while their vehicles charge up--not exactly an ideal setup for a road trip--Nissan's charger could allow them to quickly juice up and go during a rest-stop break (assuming that the new charger becomes widespread).
Hydrogen fuel cell charging stations already do this--they can give vehicles enough hydrogen to drive off in just three minutes. But automakers have invested heavily in EV technology, and chances are that there will be far more electric cars on the road in 10 years than fuel cell powered ones.
In the meantime, plug-in EVs may be the way to go for people who often travel long distances--and we can hope that another manufacturer comes up with a charging breakthrough that can be commercialized in less than a decade.