BMW and Porsche are working on a three-minute EV charger | Top Gear
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BMW and Porsche are working on a three-minute EV charger

German sports car makers seek electric charging that's as quick as a petrol fill

Published: 13 Dec 2018
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Three, as De La Soul effortlessly laid out for us all those years ago, is the magic number. Three minutes, in this case: the charging time for 62 miles of range for an electric car, direct from a new super-fast, prototype charging station in Bavaria.

And in 15 minutes, this charging station will have completely recharged your electric car. Well, nearly recharged – 80 per cent, which is as good as full anyway. The aim is to make recharging EVs as easy as filling up a tank of fuel. No guarantee that the person queued up in front of you at the station won't also be conducting a weekly shop, mind.

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This new prototype charging station is a joint project headed up by BMW. It's joined by Porsche, Siemens, Allego and Pheonix Contact E-Mobility, and this consortium reckons that 450kW is the key to driving down those recharging times, because it’s between three and nine times the capacity of today’s DC fast-chargers.

There’s a Siemens energy supply system that can handle up to 920 volts (what researchers reckon future EVs will have), and cooled high power charging cables from Pheonix. That, and a no doubt brain-meltingly complicated system that integrates high-power electronics and vehicle communication. Which basically means any type of EV can use the same charger. A simpler infrastructure, then. At last.

The station has a modular architecture so that several cars can charge at the same time, and can be deployed for various purposes – things like fleet charging and along motorways.

Here’s an example. The BMW i3 research car used for this project was plugged into the prototype station, complete with its 57kWh battery. In just 15 mins, the i3’s battery had gone from ten per cent full, to 80 per cent full.

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The Porsche research car had a slightly bigger battery pack – 90kWh – and in less than three minutes of over 400kW of charging boost, got 62 miles of range. Just enough time to grab those 2 for 1 multipack chocolates, then.

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