Electrify America today announced its next-generation DC fast charger design, as well as new nomenclature for its different levels of charging speeds. The new chargers have a single connector with a much longer cable. The new cables are 18 feet long and designed to reach either side of the vehicle, eliminating the need for the second cable on each charger.
The company had previously referred to its network as "ultra-high-speed" charging. In fact, as far as we can tell, Electrify America was the first company to use that term. Ultra-high-speed charging is now used commonly throughout the industry, however, different companies use it in different ways, and some infrastructure companies even call 50 kW DC fast charging ultra-high-speed.
So now Electrify America is once again trying to lead with regards to naming rights and has added another term, "Hyper Fast", to help customers understand charging speeds. Under the new nomenclature, ultra-fast will be used for chargers that can deliver up to 150 kW, and its stations that can deliver up to 350 kW will be labeled hyper-fast.
They will also incorporate lightning bolts on the naming plaques; one lightning bolt is for the 50 kW CHAdeMO stations, two lightning bolts for the 150 kW ultra-fast stations and three lightning bolts will be on the hyper-fast 350 kW units.
But perhaps the biggest news is that for the first time, the network is introducing power-sharing chargers. I remember when Electrify America first introduced its network, one of the things that its CEO, Giovanni Palazzo, told me that he was proud of was that all of the charging stations can deliver maximum power regardless of how many other EVs were charging at the site because there was no power sharing between units.
Electrify America's next-generation chargers feature:
- A recessed and brighter HMI (human-machine interface) screen to help reduce the glare from sunlight making it easier for customers to view the operational instructions and charging progress
- A single connector cable with an all-new cable management system to ease the effort to plug in the cable no matter where the charging port resides on a customer's EV
- A reduced footprint of both the charger and power cabinets should allow easier installation of more equipment in space-constrained, urban locations
However now, the chargers will utilize Electrify America's new "balanced" charging technology. The balanced chargers will be a set of two side-by-side units that share a total of 350 kW.
You'll always be guaranteed a minimum of 150 kW - Rob Barrosa, Senior Director of Sales, Business Development and Marketing on how the new balanced charging stations will work
I spoke to Electrify America's Senior Director of Sales, Business Development and Marketing, Rob Barrosa about this new balanced power technology and Barrosa wanted to first point out that each vehicle charging from a balanced charger pair will be guaranteed a minimum of 150 kW.
The way it will work is when two vehicles are sharing a balanced pair of chargers, there is 350 kW of potential power available so if one vehicle is charging at 150 kW, the second vehicle has 200 kW available. As the first vehicle's state of charge increases and ramps down its power intake, more power is available for the second vehicle.
The chargers utilizing the new balanced power will be labeled as such and they will show three lightning bolts that are blurred to indicate the shared power. So for customers pulling up to an Electrify America site that has balanced power employed, it would be best policy to park and charge one EV at every pair of two stations, as long as there are multiple open stalls.
That's exactly what Tesla owners do at V2 Superchargers, because they also share power between every two stalls, except they share 150 kW of total power, not 350 kW. The V3 Superchargers can deliver up to 250 kW, and they are designed to deliver maximum power to each station, under almost all conditions.
All new Electrify America charging stations will use the latest generation chargers that are capable of balanced power sharing, however not all new charging station sites will employ the balanced power distribution. Barrosa explained to me that there are some locations on major highways that will have dedicated 350 kW power to each station.
Additionally, the new single-cable stations will be replacing some existing chargers across the network, as well as chargers that have experienced failure and need to be replaced.
This brings us to an important topic, network reliability. Barrosa told me that electrify America has learned a lot since bringing its first generation units to market.
They have streamlined suppliers, made significant improvements to the units, and added more self-diagnostics with the hope that the new stations will be more robust and have an even higher uptime that the ones currently in use.
Finally, Electrify America is hoping to make the charging experience even easier than before by designing new labels to indicate exactly where the NFC target area is to help members know exactly where they should tap their phones. The credit card readers also get new labels designed to help users better understand how they work. Electrify America received customer feedback that the credit card and NFC implementation were confusing, so these changes are designed to offer clearer instructions.
I love that Electrify America is trying to help customers better understand charging power with the new labels and names. However, in my opinion, there's still a lot more education needed. For example, many EV owners don't even know how much power their EVs can take in. I fear they will seek out the new hyper-speed charging stations because they will assume they will charge their EV faster, not knowing the power intake is limited by the EV.
There have been so many times that I've pulled up to an Electrify America charging station only to find a Chevrolet Bolt EV or a BMW i3 plugged into the only 350 kW station there, while there were other open stalls. I'll politely ask if they wouldn't mind moving over to another station so I can do a charge recording with an EV that can accept more than 150 kW, and quite often they respond by telling me that the other stations charge their EV slower so they won't move.
This is all new for most people, so I don't blame them if they don't understand how charging works. Now that Electrify America is going to make the charging power more visible with the new labels and terminology, I think it's a good time to begin a public awareness campaign on how to choose the right station for your EV.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.