Japanese engineers unveil faster EV charger

Along with "range-anxiety", one of the fears dominating the discussion of electric vehicles seems to be "charge-anxiety" - how will consumers fare when their traditional stop at the gas station is replaced by a couple of hours plugged into the mains?

According to reports from Japan, at least one company believes it's got the answer.

Yokohama-based JFE Engineering recently demonstrated a new "super-rapid charging system" which is capable of filling a battery to 50 percent in three minutes, making it comparable to a stop at the gas station.

Current fast charging technology being rolled out by EV makers such as Mitsubishi and Nissan can normally charge a battery in between 15 and 30 minutes, meaning a slight adoption to the routine of most motorists.

However, the technology unveiled by JFE Engineering could reduce that unfamiliarity and therefore dramatically enhance the convenience of EVs, making them an easier sell to consumers, most of whom have never known anything but a gas station.

The only snag is likely to be that its charger is not currently compatible with the batteries in the Nissan LEAF or Mitsubishi iMiEV, although the company believes that the improved batteries of next-generation EVs are likely to be able to support their technology.

For many users, charging will be done at home, probably overnight, with the vehicle plugged into an ordinary household outlet.

But for users with longer distances to travel, a fast-charging infrastructure is critical for the successful adoption of EVs, making JFE Engineering's invention an important - and maybe even game-changing - device.