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Volvo Car Corporation cuts electric car recharging time to 1.5 hours

Volvo Car Corporation is testing a new fast-charger for electric cars that cuts recharging time to an outstanding 1.5 hours. The fast-charger operates six times faster than today's on-board devices.
"We know that short recharging times and extensive operating range are a necessity for potential electric car consumers. The fast-charging unit helps cure what is known as ‘range anxiety' since the car can be more easily recharged during the day. And even if you don't have enough time for a 1.5-hour charge, plugging in for just 30 minutes will give you enough power for another 80 kilometres of driving," says Lennart Stegland, Vice President Electric Propulsion Systems, Volvo Car Corporation.
World's first three-phase on-board charger

The new charger will be installed and evaluated in a number of Volvo C30 Electric cars. The new 22 kW fast-charger is the world's first charger that operates on a three-phase supply and is small enough to be fitted in an electric car. It offers the car owner two possibilities:

Using a three-phase outlet with 32A gives an 80 km range in 30 minutes. A full charge takes 1.5 hours.

Plugging into an ordinary single-phase 230 V household outlet gives a charging time of 8-10 hours, depending on the available current.
"The user can 'top up' the battery pack with electricity one or more times during the day. This means that the total daily range is significantly extended, yet with the same low operating cost compared to a car with a conventional power train," says Lennart Stegland. "Giving customers more usable hours each day means that electric cars become more viable as a commercial proposition, in both the private and public sectors."


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There's nothing special about "3 phases". The charge goes faster because it's 400+ volts at 30+ amps. (Remember, the important part is "energy" and you get it by a combination of electric "pressure", i.e., voltage in volts, and flow rate / "pipe cross sectional width", i.e., current in amperes).

It's just that on power distribution networks, anything above about 240 volts is usually delivered via 3ø wiring connected in either "wye" (Y) or "delta" format (the difference being how the grounding works, and the relative phase-to-phase voltage). The reasons for this are basically historical: big heavy industrial electricity users needed 3 phases to drive their big heavy 3ø electric motors. They were the only ones willing to pay up for the extra wiring involved. So the distribution network was built around those willing to pay, and now, the usage network is built up around the distribution network, etc.
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