Electrify America opened its first ultra-fast charging site in California today becoming the first location in the state to support 350 kW DC charging rates.
The new location along I-580, at the San Francisco Premium Outlets mall in the East Bay city of Livermore, has 10 charging spaces that each support at least 150 kW using the CCS charging port connector standard. Of those 10, two actually support power rates of up to 350 kW.
At the site today, two of the charging dispensers were powered off. One of the other 150 kW dispensers had a disabled right-side charge cable but the other cable was working.
The dispensers are dual-cabled and usually both cables support the same power rate and connector type. Electrify America says the cables on opposite sides of the dispenser allow for better reachability since various vehicle designs locate the charge port in different places on the car.
Electrify America locations typically have one charging space with a cable that supports the CHAdeMO connector standard used on Nissan and Mitsubishi vehicles such as the LEAF. At locations with many charging spaces such as Livermore, the charging space supporting CHAdeMO is often also designated for handicapped parking with a wider parking space.
The Livermore site’s handicapped parking signage is ambiguous and potentially confusing to non-handicapped CHAdeMO customers. A sign at the parking space indicates it is for handicapped parking but the ground markings says only that the space is for electric car charging and does not feature the wheelchair symbol used at other nearby non-charging handicapped parking spaces.
The Livermore location is unusual in that an adjacent parking lot section containing 20 Tesla Supercharger spaces was constructed at the same time.
See also: Tesla, Electrify America adjacent DC charging sites near completion in Livermore
The site is one of nine locations that Electrify America has said they plan to open before the end of the year. Two locations opened earlier in Elk Grove and Torrance are community DC charging sites that feature slower 50 kW charging spaces.
Another highway site set to open before January is along US-101 with eight charging spaces in Novato just north of San Francisco.
See also: First nine California Electrify America sites planned to open before 2019
The fee to charge includes an initial $1 session fee plus $0.35 per minute. A higher $0.40 “idle fee” is charged after the vehicle is fully charged but has not yet been unplugged. Payment is by credit card although support for ApplePay and similar phone-based payment systems will be enabled later.
An announcement about the opening of the Livermore locations says that 17 additional Electrify America locations in California will be opening over the next year at other real estate locations owned by Simon Properties.
What is your take on the frequent comments about the “short” charging cords that EA has been providing at a lot of their sites? I’ve read numerous comments on Plugshare of drivers who had to pull in sideways and block two chargers to get close enough to connect up, which would limit the # of vehicles that could charge at once
Photos of the sites where I saw this comment most-often posted showed a defined 3′ walking path with concrete wheel-stops between the charger and the vehicle slot. This adds to the required cable length as compared to the no-path type site your photo shows.
Do you have a handy example PlugShare listing that shows a photo of what you are describing?
Grants Pass, OR Walmart station for one. I’ve seen this comment come up at other EA chargers that are up and running, too. Follow the link, look at the photos, and read the comments. I don’t know if this is a problem with just a specific station dispenser manufacturer or regional differences in how the station layouts are made due to site-specific variances, “code” requirements etc.
The Livermore station has station bollard guards instead of concrete curb stops as installed in Grants Pass, which appear to allow vehicles to pull closer to the dispenser.
At power transfer levels of 150kW at 450Vdc, you’re talking about dc currents of 300A and very heavy-gauge cable conductors and a combination of short cable lengths and liquid cooling are required to keep CSS-2 charger cable heating to acceptable levels. Increasing to 1000Vdc for faster 350kW charging, currents can be even higher (350A+). Longer charging cables would be unacceptably heavy, bulky and expensive (and probably dangerous).
Also, you’ll note that the new EA CSS-2 stations are designed like modern gas/diesel fuel dispensers with high-mounted cables that are likely designed to break off safely if an EV drives off without disconnecting. A badly-damaged charging cable or station could expose lethal electrical voltages and currents.
EVs cannot drive off while connected or actively charging. The standards require the vehicle to engage an electric parking brake and not be capable of being put into a normal driving mode.
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The liquid-cooled cables commonly being installed now are rated for 400A nominally but up to 500A with better cooling units.
The highest amperage may actually be more likely at sub-500V since the “350 kW” charger hardware can commonly support up to 350A at 800-900V but up to 500A at voltages under 500-600 and there will be some vehicles designed for sub-500V that have big packs and can draw close to those higher amperages.
In my limited experience, the liquid cooled cables feel relatively light compared to some conventional 125-200A conventional cables that I have handled but they are more rigid to bending and twisting.
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Thanks for posting the CSS-2 charger technical information.
It’s good to know about the no-drive-off requirements in the charging standards. Do they apply to all J1772 and CHAdeMO charging as well as CSS? Do all the older J1772 and CHAdeMO chargers prevent drive-offs?
Are the EA 150kW CSS-2 chargers equipped with liquid-cooled cables, or just the new 350kW chargers?
I know the Tesla v2 Superchargers are pushing the limits for non-cooled charger cables. At 480Vdc and 145kW, they theoretically max at 302A (the Tesla S/X 120kW limit gives a practical max of 250A).
Tesla’s Supercharger 2.0 only supports a max of 410V and the highest charging rates of up to near 120 kW actually happen on a near-empty battery at closer to 320-330V. That means the current maxes out at as high as 370A.
Tesla gets away with this by using thick but short charging cables (between dispenser and car) which makes the cable manageable by normal people. If the cable were longer like the ones on typical CCS or CHAdeMO chargers the cables would be heavy and awkward — hence the liquid-cooled cables.
The 150 kW units you see at Electrify America and elsewhere are rated for 320-350A. Anything much over 250A typically will use liquid-cooling because the CCS connector wants it in addition to concerns about awkwardly heavy cables.
Some charging providers may be planning to install 100 kW dispensers with conventional cables rated at 200A. I wrote a recent article here about an EVgo upgrade at a Whole Foods in San Jose which is doing that.
J1772 also mandates the drive-off prohibition although lower-powered AC charging doesn’t require the parking brake to be engaged. CCS charging also requires the connector to be locked to the car so it can’t be easily disconnected while high current is flowing in order to prevent arcing. J1772 AC doesn’t require that.
I’m less certain about the CHAdeMO requirements but I think it also requires that the car be immobilized while the cable is connected.
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