New quick charger for electric cars is really quick

One of the biggest hurdles on the road to make electric vehicles attractive for the mass market is the long time it usually takes to charge batteries. But a Japanese company called JFE Engineering now claims it has found a solution for that problem. According to JFE, even so-called “quick battery chargers” often take 30 minutes to charge a car’s battery to 80% of its capacity.

But their self-developed charger apparently needs just three minutes for a 50% charge, or five minutes for a 70% charge. In tests JFE conducted with the device, Mitsubishi’s electric car i-MiEV (pictured above) was able to drive for 80km continuously after a 5-minute charge (the vehicle has a driving range of 160km on a full charge).

JFE also developed a low-cost version of its charger, which doesn’t require a power transformer and therefore costs just $60,000 to install (roughly half the usual amount). Both that device and the high-cost model meet the specifications of the CHAdeMo standard for electric cars that was brought to life by a group of Japanese and international companies back in March.

JFE expects its charger to be used mainly at gas stations and convenience stores all over Japan by the end of March 2011.

Via 47News [JP]