The modular charging system was unveiled at CES 2017 this week
Lengthy EV charging times could soon be a thing of the past, or at least so it appeared when Charge Point revealed its modular Express Plus technology at CES 2017. At the maximum potential power delivery of up to 400kW, most EVs today could be practically fully charged in a matter of minutes.
At its most basic, the Express Plus consists of one DC charging station equipped with two charging blades. Each blade provides a minimum power delivery of 31kW, so if two cars were connected to the station, that is how much power they would each receive. If only one car was connected to the station, however, it would then get a power delivery of 62kW.
At this point, the modular design comes into play. Each station is able to connect to one other station, effectively doubling the charging power again. To boost power further, ChargePoint has developed the Power Cube, a separate component able to increase the power of 16 stations at a time. When only two stations are attached to a Power Cube, each blade is able to provide the promised 400kW charge.
According to the company, the new Express Plus charger “is equipped to charge upcoming EVs such as the Tesla Model 3 and is ready to deliver maximum charging speed to EVs coming to market in the years to come”. And if it is able to deliver the amount of power that it claims, it will provide “the power, speed and scalability necessary to make the future of mobility all-electric”.
One potential drawback is that, whilst the 400kW power delivery is impressive, not all cars will necessarily be equipped to handle it. Chevrolet for instance recommends that its Bolt model EV could be charged at a rate of around 80kW, although the company does not state whether it can cope with a higher rate. The Tesla Model 3 is known to be able to handle the 135kW delivery that the company’s most powerful superchargers provide, but CEO Elon Musk could not confirm whether the car could manage a higher rate.
No specific date has been given by the company regarding the distribution of such stations, but its website tells us to “get ready for the next 10 years in EV charging”, suggesting that it plans to begin production in the relatively near future.
ChargePoint’s announcement fits in with the trend amongst major companies in the auto industry, which is to focus on the technology and infrastructure behind EV charging. Volkswagen for example is going to spend $2 billion on charging networks across the US, and Tesla continues to expand its supercharger network which at present only operates with its own vehicles. As previously mentioned, the most powerful Tesla supercharger can deliver up to 135kW of power. ChargePoint will provide fierce competition if its chargers are indeed compatible with Tesla’s cars. Likewise in Europe, German car manufacturers are planning to collaborate on a continent-wide high speed charging network which would conform to the CCS standard. Ultimately, the companies are aiming for charging power of up to 350kW.
In order for EVs to truly become ubiquitous, rapid charging at regularly placed stations is a must, and should they deliver the goods, ChargePoint’s innovative approach will likely play an important role in such development.