Kyushu Electric Power (KEPCO) and lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1, Inc. have signed a memorandum of understanding on working together to develop rapid recharging systems for electric vehicles. Kyushu Electric is the fourth-largest publicly traded power and utility company in Japan.
Ener1 said drivers can plug in and recharge up to 80 percent of the vehicle’s battery capacity in under 20 minutes. Kyushu Electric serves more than 8 million customers on Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, which includes the cities of Nagasaki and Fukuoka.
KEPCO has already developed advanced rapid charging stands and plans to customize that solution with the EnerDel High Energy Pack System. KEPCO says that its next-generation electric vehicle rapid charging station has exhibited one of the highest levels of performance for rapid charging in Japan.
The target date to have the first integrated systems available is by March, 2009. The relationship will accelerate the development and diffusion of charging systems to match the anticipated growth in electric vehicles.
The ability to rapidly recharge lithium-ion batteries will be crucial in enabling the widespread adoption of the electric vehicle, according to the partners, and it is anticipated that these systems will allow customers to recharge up to 80% of their vehicle’s battery capacity in less than 20 minutes.
There are already some significant players in the electric car-charging field, with California’s Better Place holding talks this week with the governor of Michigan. Better Place, which is developing its own car-charging network, is already working on projects in Israel, Denmark and Australia. Better Place’s vehicle partner, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, also has a project in Japan, in the Kanagawa Prefecture on Honshu, Japan’s largest island, as well as deals in Portugal, France, and the state of Tennessee in the U.S.
Ener1 took an 83-percent stake in South Korea’s Enertech International, a producer of lithium-ion battery cells in October. Ener1’s EnerDel unit has worked with Enertech before, supplying prototype and preproduction battery systems for Norway’s Think Global, which is working on an electric vehicle to be launched this year.