What’s that Spaceship at the Rest Stop?

One of the more obvious obstacles to the adoption of EVs that Saab will undoubtedly face is long distance travel using Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). It’s the big reason why most companies to date are also focusing on including a motor generator on their EVs and thus building Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs). But adding a conventional fuel powered generator onto an electric car adds cost and complexity, which changes the chemistry requirements for the battery and yields a much lower range than if the car were simply battery powered. Since NEVS has stated their intention of first going the BEV route with their first production model based on the existing Saab 9-3, it’s worth a look at one very interesting solution unveiled this week.

Tesla decided to go the pure EV route, and chose to deal with range anxiety in a pretty radical yet simple way. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a network of spaceship-like stations dubbed Superchargers. Each station can charge four to six cars at a time, and costs about $250,000 to build. They’re charged by a high voltage power supply presumably pulls it’s power from the grid, with PV (solar) panels that feed power back into the grid to offset the load. At the moment only the Model S and future Tesla vehicles are able to take advantage of the superchargers. It takes about 30 minutes to fill up a car with 100kW, which is about enough for 3 hours at 60mph. Obviously that’s not enough for most SU readers, who want less than 10 minutes and 4 hours at 75mph+, but for first-of-its-kind technology that actually exists today, it isn’t too shabby. There are already a number of other companies with similar plans, Better Place, NRG Energy, Ecotality and Coulomb to name a few, but it’s obvious that Tesla will have a serious presence along highways in major urban areas very soon.

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