EVgo and ABB yesterday unveiled the first “High-Power” fast charging station for EVs in the US. Interestingly, it was unveiled in Fremont, California. Fremont is well known in EV circles as the home of Tesla, and as such, it is quickly becoming the epicenter of EV activity, as evidenced by this installation.
It’s for exactly this reason that EVgo and ABB opted to install the high-power charging station in the parking lot of a very normal-looking Lucky Supermarket on Mowry Avenue, as the area has the highest traffic in the EVgo network.
Kicking things off, this new HPFC is capable of a maximum charging rate of 150 kW, which is already 3 times faster than the most comparable non-Tesla DC Fast Charging station installed in the US today. Looking across town to Tesla, even Tesla Superchargers aren’t quite at parity with the top speed of the new station — though, to be fair, Tesla has been doling out power at greater than 100 kW for years now and is typically maxing out at around 120–130 kW in current-production Superchargers.
Back to this new ABB charger, it is capable of 150 kW today, but — and this is a big but — it can be upgraded to deliver up to 350 kW (per the press release, even though the official ABB Twitter account notes 320 kW) as vehicle technologies catch up with it, due to the station’s modular nature.
ABB's modular high power charger supporting 150kW – 320kW fast charging with currents up to 350A with special liquid cooled charging cables pic.twitter.com/f1rYavHelm
— ABB_EVCharging (@ABB_EVCharging) February 16, 2017
Modular is apparently the new black, as the Chargepoint Express Plus Family that was announced at CES also took the building block approach, but with a slightly different spin. This new ABB charger helps to raise the bar on the charger side of the equation for automakers to catch up to. Even the brand spanking new Chevy Bolt can barely charge at half of this speed.
Even though the new high-power charging station uses the CCS standard, it won’t be able to be tapped by the public right out of the gate, as it’s only going to allow “testing of EV research platforms at 150 kW initially,” which should be alright, as there aren’t any production vehicles out that can even charge at that speed today.
With Tesla (particularly Elon) being so competitive, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a Tweet from the Elon announcing the rollout of 350 kW — or maybe even 500 kW (!!) — chargers starting next week, along with corresponding vehicle software updates for all vehicles produced from October 2016 forward (which presumably already have the necessary hardware). To be clear — no, that’s not real news … yet.
A mere 350 kW … what are you referring to, a children's toy?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2016
While Tesla will surely step up to the challenge of 150+ kW charging speeds sometime in the next few months, two other auto manufacturers have already announced plans to make something capable of latching onto these new stations and drinking from the firehose with the throttle wide open at 150 kW. The vehicles will reportedly be available over the next two years.
Looking forward, things get more exciting as EV charging speeds approach the current industry standard for fueling time, the gas station, which can provide a fill-up in just a few short minutes:
“ABB shares EVgo’s vision of supporting an ever-growing population of EV drivers who demand the convenience of a fueling station experience,” said Tarak Mehta, President, Electrification Products division at ABB.
The future is electric and the building blocks for that quieter, torque-y, cleaner air future are all starting to become reality, to the point where I feel great being able to say, “The Future is Now!”