Nissan LEAF PLUS can charge at near 100 kW, but where?

When Nissan revealed the new 62 kWh LEAF model last week it told reporters that the car can charge at a peak rate of around 100 kW which raises the question — where does one find a CHAdeMO charger that can allow the new LEAF to charge at that rate?

You might think that a so-called “100 kW” charger would do the job but you would probably be wrong. That’s because chargers labeled as “100 kW” may have a peak current output of only 200A and actual car batteries are designed to charge at voltages much lower than 500V.

Last June, the Swiss charging equipment supplier EVTEC tweeted (and then deleted) the results from charging a prototype LEAF with a battery pack of around 60 kWh at a private industry compatibility test event for prototype products. The prototype LEAF charged at 102 kW.

A prototype LEAF PLUS charging at 102 kW at 32 percent state of charge.

The LEAF PLUS battery pack, like the previous 40 kWh model, has 96 cell groups in series. In a 40 kWh LEAF pack each cell group is made up of two cells wired together in parallel. In the 62 kWh pack there are three cells per cell group.

In a typical EV, a lithium ion cell group operates from approximately 3V to 4.15V and multiplied by 96 cell groups that works out to a pack that operates at closer to 300V when near empty to around 400V when full.

Nissan hasn’t published highly detailed battery charging specifications and no 62 kWh cars are in customer hands yet but typically such a battery charging at 32 percent state of charge would have a charging voltage of around 360V to 365V.

At a charger limited to 200A that would be about 72 kW. Charging at 102 kW as seen in the EVTEC tweet implies a charging current of about 280A.

Charging at 280A implies the use of unusually thick and heavy conventional cables or, more likely, a liquid-cooled cable and CHAdeMO connector. Such cables are not available from suppliers today but this EVTEC tweet was sent from a testing event for prototype products.

A new CHAdeMO connector rated for 200A.

Since only 200A conventional cables and connectors are available today for CHAdeMO that is what is being installed during the initial rapid deployment of high-power chargers. The same chargers typically support liquid-cooled cables for the other standard charging connector, CCS, at currents of 350A up to 500A.

In the US, Recargo recently opened a charging site with CHAdeMO cables rated for 200A. It’s possible that some of their planned 22 future sites in California may also support that capability. EVgo is in the last stages of installing their first 100 kW upgrade site. All the new Electrify America sites include a single CHAdeMO cable rated for 100 kW but so far the cables are being limited in software to 50 kW until more testing is completed.

When liquid-cooled CHAdeMO cables become available it may be possible to upgrade existing 200A cables on such chargers so that CHAdeMO and CCS will have the same power output capability.

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Categories: Charging

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9 replies

  1. So what you’re saying is that even for the faster 100-150kw chargers being installed right now, they’ll be limited to 200A by the cables, so the Leaf e+ will probably max at ~70KW charging for the foreseeable future?

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    • Yes, Leaf charging will be limited to 70 kW or so by the 200A cables until a new generation of CHAdeMO cables and connectors finally become available to charger manufacturers.

      Since I suspect these new cables were being tested last year (which is how the prototype Leaf got to 102 kW) I suspect the new cables may become available later this year but that could mean that the initial large backlog of high-power orders won’t get them. Can the new cables be updated onto the earlier installation? I’m guessing they can be updated for chargers that already use liquid-cooled cables for CCS.

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      • ok thanks. I don’t expect to see any upgraded chargers here in Ontario, unless the Electrify America actually installs some of their chargers in Canada like they said they will. Quebec might get them, and they already have a much higher density of 50kw chargers.

        It’s currently hard to get across Ontario with a 30kwh Leaf. There are currently gaps of 140km and 170km on the two best routes.

        I’ll probably keep the Niro at the top of my next EV list, since it has CCS, and it’s more likely there will be more of those, and more higher speed ones, here in the next 3 years.

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      • The Niro seems like it could be a good choice.

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  2. Interestingly, Some of the early Blink DC fast chargers were surprisingly fast. The one I used at https://www.plugshare.com/location/14947 is 60 kW, compared to the more common 45 kW.

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  3. How is it possibly going to charge at that rate with no battery cooling system?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very carefully.

      We don’t know how long it can actually charge at near 100 kW and I suppose we might not find out until some of them are delivered to customers. The pack has temperature sensors so they can slow the charging rate when it starts to get too warm.

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  4. Any idea whether and when EVGo is planning to update more fast chargers to 100 kW? And how involved would this be? Some say that it would only require an OTA software update, but the pictures from that upgrade in San Jose seem to indicate that the upgrade is to the physical hardware.

    The reason I ask: in the northeast (more specifically, the Boston to D.C. corridor), the best bet for the Leaf Plus to fast charge at 70 kW would seem to be on upgraded 100 kW EVGo chargers. EVGo has the densest network of fast charging stations in this region, and many of these stations have 4-8 separate Chademo plugs that can all be used simultaneously. The problem though is that they’re all at the moment limited to 50 kW. Meanwhile, the problem with the Electrify America charging network is that, even if they do upgrade their own Chademo plugs from 50 kW to 100 kW, each station only has one Chademo plug – so no backup plan if you get to a station and the one Chademo plug is down. There are a few articles on the internet suggesting that the EVGo stations have been ‘future-proofed’ and/or ‘pre-wired’ for 150 kW DC fast charging, but nowhere can I find any details about when. The specific answer to this question is important for anyone cross-shopping the Leaf Plus against say the Niro or Kona. Because between D.C. and Boston, you can fast charge on the CCS plugs at EA stations at 70 kW right now – a lot of these stations have 4-10 CCS plugs, and there will be a lot more finishing construction by July 2019 (at least according to EA’s schedule). But when could we see a similar reality for the Leaf Plus? This year? Three years from now? Why pay top dollar for the Leaf Plus if it has fast charging tech that can’t be used in the real world for years to come? The vagueness on this topic coming from both Nissan and EVGo is frustrating, and it’s a fitting corollary to the vagueness from Nissan as to why the Leaf Plus has no liquid (or even active) cooling….

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