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BMW & Porsche Unveil a 450 kW Ultra-Fast EV Charging Prototype

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【Summary】German automakers BMW and Porsche, along with a consortium of industry partners, have developed a new EV charging prototype that can deliver 450 kW of juice, more than triple the capacity of Tesla’s Supercharger network.

Eric Walz    Dec 13, 2018 11:55 AM PT
BMW & Porsche Unveil a 450 kW Ultra-Fast EV Charging Prototype

When electric automaker Tesla began to roll out its own Supercharger network, it was dubbed as the world's fastest EV charging network, offering a charging rate of 120 kilowatts (kW). Now German automakers BMW and Porsche, along with a consortium of industry partners, have developed a new EV charging prototype that can deliver 450 kW of juice, more than triple the capacity of Tesla's network.

The charger can fully charge an electric vehicle's battery to 80 percent in about 15 minutes, or add enough power to drive another 100 kilometers (62 miles) in just under three minutes—about the same time it takes to stop at a gas station.

Test vehicles from BMW and Porsche designed to accept the higher charging rate were recharged to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes. Tesla's own Superchargers require about 30 minutes to reach a similar charge, according to the company's website.

One of the known hurdles for the mass adoption of electric vehicles is the convenience and speed of charging. Not only do EV chargers need to be installed in in locations close where people work and live, they also need to be about as fast as filling up at a gas station. Automakers are under pressure to deliver electric vehicles as well as the infrastructure to allow for easy charging for customers.

BMW_iX3-01.jpg

The 2020 BMW iX3 will be able to charge 3 times faster than the current i3.

The research project to develop the ultra-fast charging infrastructure is called "FastCharge" and is being run by an industry consortium led by BMW, Porsche, Siemens AG, charging specialists Allego GmbH and Phoenix Contact E-Mobility GmbH. The project is receiving funding of $7.6 million from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

The new station is suitable for electric models of all brands with the Type 2 version of the internationally widespread Combined Charging System (CCS), which is commonly used in Europe.

One drawback to ultra-fast charging is the higher output is more power than many current electric models are designed to accept. For example, the current BMW i3 limits its charging to accept just 50 kilowatts. However, the new BMW iX3 will accept up to 150 kilowatts when it rolls out in 2020.

One of the reasons to limit charging rates is that too high of a charging rate can permanently reduce the battery capacity of lithium-ion EV batteries, so automakers have designed EVs to charge slower over a longer period of time to prevent overheating and battery degradation that can occur over time.

For the test vehicles to withstand the full electricity surge, Porsche used a specially designed cooling system that keeps battery cells at a steady temperature, while the charging cables were cooled as well. Siemens AG provided a higher electric voltage energy supply, to test the limits of the higher power surge.

The Porsche research vehicle with a 90 kWh battery pack achieved a charging capacity of more than 400 kW, thereby allowing charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 km of range.

The 450 kW charging station in Bavaria was opened to the public on Wednesday. Charging is free for existing models, BMW said Thursday in a statement.

BMW, Daimler AG and Porsche parent Volkswagen AG are also working on building a fast-charging network along major highways in Europe to support the rollout of many new electric models being developed by the three automakers.

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