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Sydney next to flick fast-charge switch

Fill ‘er up: Mitsubishi product manager for electric vehicles Ashley Sanders plugs the new fast charger in to an i-MiEV at the company’s Adelaide headquarters.

NRMA to join Mitsubishi with fast charging points for electric vehicles

4 Feb 2011

SYDNEY is next on the list to get electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging points following the unveiling of Australia’s first unit at Mitsubishi’s Australia headquarters in Adelaide this week.

New South Wales motoring organisation NRMA is having two of the devices installed for its own use, one at at Wynyard, in the Sydney CBD, and another at North Strathfield, in the city’s inner west near Sydney’s Homebush Olympic Park.

NRMA partner Club Assist is installing the level-two machines that are designed for domestic and commercial use, pumping out 30 amps – double the power of the standard 15-amp household outlet.

The systems are expected to be up and running in the next few months, providing fast charging for the NRMA’s Mitsubishi i-MiEV trial car and, in future, other EVs.

As well, the NRMA is exploring the possibility of installing an even faster 50 amp DC unit in the North Strathfield site.

Club Assist is expecting to install similar level three fast chargers – similar to the Mitsubishi Motors unit – at other locations around Australia.

On Wednesday, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) formally unveiled its fast-charge station at its offices in Tonsley Park, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Primarily, the unit will be used to charge Mitsubishi’s own i-MiEV fleet cars, but owners of the all-electric runabouts – the first mass-produced EVs on Australian roads – can call in to charge their cars for free.

Like the NRMA’s two charging units, the SA station is an American-made Aker Wade machine installed by Club Assist, the Dandenong-based company that is best known for its hugely successful roadside battery replacement business that it runs on behalf of 75 motoring clubs across numerous countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and several European nations.

21 center imageLeft: Mitsubishi Motors Australia CEO and president Masahiko Takahashi, City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood and City of Marion Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis officially commission Australia’s first public EV fast charger.

Along with other Australian motoring organisations, the NRMA is a major shareholder in Club Assist, which is taking a leading role in developing quick-charge systems for the new generation of EVs hitting world streets.

The plan is to install mobile charging units in Club Assist’s roadside assistance vehicles to help EV drivers whose cars run out of spark, in the same way that the traditional service helps drivers who run out of fuel.

At the same time, Club Assist has started installing permanent fast-charge units around Australia for customers who want them.

The level three Aker Wade unit installed for Mitsubishi can recharge an i-MiEV’s lithium-ion battery pack to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes, or do a 50 per cent top-up in 15 minutes.

Normally, an i-MiEV takes seven hours to be fully recharged with a standard household 15 amp 240-volt outlet.

One i-MiEV driver who is hoping to take advantage of the fast-charge system is Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, who will need to drive only about 10km from his home or office in Adelaide’s CBD.

Like the NRMA, the City of Adelaide was one of the successful bidders for one of the first batch of i-MiEVs from Mitsubishi – the so-called i-MiEV Foundation Customers.

Mr Yarwood, who was at Tonsley Park for Wednesday’s fast-charge switching on ceremony, has taken the i-MiEV as his mayoral car.

MMAL president and CEO Masahiko Takahashi said the company chose to install the fast charge unit at its South Australian headquarters for a number of reasons.

“Mitsubishi is a long-time member of the South Australian business community, and we are extraordinarily proud of our history here, so we are always very ready to support our local market.

“We have several i-MiEV Foundation Customers here in Adelaide, and I am sure the new FCU will be very convenient for them.

“In addition, MMAL plans to offer an i-MiEV vehicle for our staff to use as a pool car, and I have no doubt it will be so popular that it will require topping up on a regular basis.”

Mitsubishi head of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto the installation rate of fast-charging systems was about to gain pace, with several companies and organisations proposing to take the step.

Queensland’s RACQ is said to be in line to get one. It also has one of the i-MiEVs.

In Sydney, several kerbside charging stations have already been installed as part of a City of Sydney EV trial, but they are not the powerful fast-charging variety.

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