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Look out Chevy Volt: Nissan LEAF gets range anxiety relief
by Matt Marusiak on November 26, 2010
As automakers develop more innovative electric cars – such as the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV – two issues still need to be resolved before EV’s can challenge hybrids such as the Chevy Volt. These issues are range anxiety and the speed of recharge. NRG, a power generating company based in New Jersey, is piloting the eVgo network in Houston to both solve these problems and expand its energy market.
The advantage electric cars have over other transportation alternatives such as hydrogen or natural gas is that the infrastructure to deliver electric charge already exists. Ideally, an EV would charge overnight in the garage, so it would be ready to go for the daily commute. But what if the commute exceeds the range of the car? And if drivers can stop somewhere to recharge, will it take hours?
To solve these problems, NRG is proposing the eVgo network . For a monthly fee, the eVgo network will provide both home charging service and access to public charging stations. The home charger will operate on 220 volts (the same as an electric oven or hot water heater) and deliver 3.3 kilowatts of power, which will charge the LEAF in around 6 hours. The public charging station, however, will be designed to deliver 50 kilowatts of power, resulting in greatly reduced charge times.
NRG is proposing to install about 50 charging stations throughout the Houston area by next year. The subscription would range from $50 to $80 per month for a three-year contract, and the fee would be added to the monthly electric bill.
Although this proposal should help alleviate range anxiety, EV drivers will need to crunch the numbers to see if it would be cost effective. Additionally, only subscribers can use the public charging stations. NRG is exploring the possibility of providing sales directly at the “pump,” but has no plans to offer it for at least another year.
As a power generating company, NRG is developing this service to increase its market, particularly during the off-peak hours. But why are they piloting the system in Houston? Because NRG wants to build two new nuclear power plants in Texas. The green benefits of the Houston eVgo network may merely be shifted to other problems outside the Loop.