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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Japanese Firm Can Recharge EV’s Batteries to 50% in 3 Minutes

The Nikkei Japanese subscription news service reports today that Yokohama-based JFE Engineering Corp. has developed a charging system that can recharge an electric car's batteries halfway in three minutes.

The system, which is scheduled to go on sale later this year, works about five times as fast as existing products and will cost 6 million yen ($63,380), or 40 percent less than existing products, to install.

More convenient charging is likely to help electric cars catch on. JFE Engineering sees potential demand from gas stations and convenience stores. The JFE Holdings Inc. unit aims for 15 billion yen ($158 million) in annual orders by fiscal 2015.

Roughly the same size as a gas station pump, the system uses specially designed lithium-ion batteries to store power at night, when electricity costs about one-third as much as during peak hours. The batteries can deliver more than five times the current as existing products.

Typical high-speed chargers require more power than most business places are equipped to receive. When necessary upgrades are included, installation costs can run to around 10 million yen ($105,000).

JFE Engineering's charger runs on a standard power source. A gas station choosing this system over an existing product would save about 900,000 yen ($9,500) a year in electricity costs, according to the company.

Software changes and other adjustments to the car itself are needed to use JFE's charger at full speed, the company says. Without them, the charger will work only as fast as existing products. JFE Engineering plans to seek cooperation from automakers.

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