Pumping Electrons

Gary S. Vasilash

One of the issues regarding the growth of electric vehicles (EV) is that of infrastructure: There are far more gas stations in the U.S. than even the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined, so there need not be any range anxiety associated with a car that takes regular or premium.  Electricity is something else entirely (physically and metaphorically).

Tesla is addressing its owner fleet by tactically installing “Superchargers,” which allow its Model S vehicles to be given a comparatively quick charge (20 to 30 minutes). Last week it opened its first in Michigan, in St. Joseph, which is, interestingly enough, closer to Chicago (95 miles) than it is from Detroit (190 miles)—is there a message there?

What is probably more significant is that ABB has received Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listing for its Terra 53 DC fast chargers. There is a range of units in the Terra family, including the Terra 53, which has SAE combo functionality. That means it allows quick charges for vehicles ranging from the Chevy Spark EV to the BMW i3.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV –  high tech electric city car priced below 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV –  high tech electric city car priced below $19,995

Britta Gross, director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy at GM said of the Terra, “Achieving UL certification enables the continued rollout of the SAE combo connector, which is the new industry standard for DC fast charging of electric vehicles, and broadly supported by most major automakers.” She added, “This paves the way for the entire automotive industry to make electric vehicles more convenient for a vast majority of customers. For example, owners of the Chevrolet Spark EV equipped with DC fast charge capability will be available before the engine of the year in California and Oregon.”

BMW i3

And Cliff Fietzek, manager of Connected e-Mobility at BMW of North America, said, “The Terra 53 gives i3 drivers with the DC charging option the possibility to recharge their car up to 80% in under 30 minutes, extending their EV driving range significantly.”

And having that UL stamp will undoubtedly make a whole lot of people as comfortable pumping electrons as they are gasoline.