Honda Aims for 15-Minute EV Refueling by 2022

By · November 29, 2017

At the recent 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda unveiled the Sports EV concept.

For the past several years, Honda has seen a limited role for pure electric cars. The company’s executives point to the high cost of batteries and long recharging times as a reason to limit EV production. In an apparent change of direction, according to a report earlier this month in Nikkei’s Asian Review, the Japanese automaker said that by 2022 it plans to introduce a line of EVs that can add about 150 miles of driving range with a 15-minute charge.

As we reported last year, an alliance of European automakers is exploring how to introduce 350-kilowatt charging—with recharging times similar to what Honda announced this month. In October 2016, those European carmakers officially launched a network of 25 “ultra-fast” chargers to be used by buses and trucks, as well as eventually passenger vehicles. The introduction of very fast public chargers far exceeds the 50-kW chargers (or even Tesla’s 120-kW Superchargers) commonly used today. Most of those non-Tesla chargers add about 50 to 60 miles of range in around 30 minutes—while a half-hour of charging the Tesla vehicle using a Supercharger can exceed 150 miles of added range in a half-hour.

Honda said a production version of the Urban EV concept, which was revealed in Frankfurt in September, will be introduced in 2019.

Takahiro Hachigo, Honda’s chief executive, explained that Honda is developing a new type of high-capacity battery that can handle the ultra-quick charging—as well as lighter vehicle bodies for greater efficiency. Meanwhile, Honda also plans to introduce a mass-market electric vehicle—perhaps a production version of its Urban EV concept—by 2019. This new Honda electric offering, not necessarily intended for the United States, will use today’s current charging technology.

Honda’s current sole EV, the all-electric version of the 2017 Honda Clarity, arrived in dealerships in July. The Clarity Electric offers 89 miles of range—among the lowest on the market today. The full-size sedan, which is only available in California and Oregon, leases for $269 a month for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing. Honda has put fewer than 200 units of the Clarity Electric on the road since its introduction.

While Honda’s discussion of fast charging relates to public EV refueling, nearly all of EV charging takes place at home where a 240-volt supply of electricity can easily fully charge an electric car overnight. Based on today’s charging rates, a half-hour recharging event every two or so hours on a road trip is not practical for many drivers. Reducing those EV pit stops to 15 minutes could make occasional EV road trips more accessible to mainstream consumers. However, networks of ultra-fast chargers along highway corridors—similar to the more than 1,000 Superchargers already installed by Tesla—would need to be created before other EVs could compete with gas-powered cars for convenience.

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