Monday, May 2, 2011
Infrastructure Issues? Did MINI-E #250 cause a Transformer Meltdown?
I quickly called PSE&G, and they arrived about a half hour later and quickly repaired the wire and the restaurant was back to normal and my car resumed charging. Since the wire was arcing and sparks were falling, the Montclair fire department was on scene and made sure nobody walked under the area.
One of the things I have said I love about the MINI-E is it's ability to charge so quickly. It can charge up to 50amps at 12kWh and completely charge the 35kWh pack in about three hours. Compare that to the Nissan LEAF which only has a 24 kWh pack, and still takes eight hours to charge because it can only charge at 3.3kWh. This means it can only accept about 1/3 of the electricity that my MINI-E which isn't great when you want to charge up quickly, but definitely easier on your utility company. I definitely think this reason is why most of the major auto manufacturers are setting the charge rate of their EV's at 3.3kWh (LEAF & Volt) or 6.6kWh (Focus, Coda) instead of higher. Future BMW EV's (ActiveE & i3) will be limited to 7.7kWh which is probably a good decision, as balancing fast charging against not wanting their customers to blow up their transformers needs to be considered. Tesla on the other hand is going to continue to allow charging up to 16.8 kWh and uses the same AC Propulsion technology that allows the MINI-E to charge at such a high rate. They don't seem to be concerned about supply issues, only time will tell if they are correct. I know this, if after plucking down $60,000 or so to buy a new Model S, you find out that you keep overwhelming your utility supply and cannot charge your car, you aren't going to be very happy.
There will be growing pains. As electric cars become more and more prevalent, expect to hear about electricity supply problems from time to time. The one good thing about relatively slow adoption of electric cars is that it will allow the utilities to identify weaknesses and problem areas, and upgrade what need to be upgraded before there are millions of EV's driving around everywhere and not enough supply to charge them.