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Charging Europe

The Geneva Motor Show 2012 at the Palexpo

At the Geneva Motor Show Wednesday, clear evidence that global car makers recognize the need – and consumer demand – for low-emission technologies was on hand, but the approach appears to avoid a single technology.

Charging solutions lie just opposite the entrance at the Green Pavilion (Pavillon Vert) – a verdant oasis of low- and zero-emission technologies, as well as vehicles that are available for test drives.

Inside the Green Pavilion at Geneva Motor Show 2012

Developers of quick chargers buzzed to the eco-garden, seeing a rich global playing field.

Nissan alone has installed about 920 quick chargers in Japan, but in all of Europe the number remains just a fraction of that amount, according to exhibitors. Japan had a natural lead on charging infrastructure, as the Nissan LEAF only began showing up on European roads last spring.

Suppliers of quick chargers (about 10 firms in the region) assure that Europe will catch up, and one estimates about 2,000 quick chargers installed by the end of 2012, and as many as 4,000 by mid-2013.

That will happen with more PHEVs and EVs in the market, said Johan Mossberg, vice president of Electric Vehicle Strategy & Marketing for Schneider Electric’s power business, which supplies Renault with quick chargers.

“Deployment of the market will be driven by the sales of the vehicles. You need to have a sufficient amount of cars.”

The new all-electric Renault ZOE compact, the Nissan LEAF, and other future models in the Alliance EV line-up will help drive this, says Mossberg.

Nissan LEAF charging at the Green Pavilion, Geneva Motor Show 2012

Last October, Nissan selected DBT, the largest European charging station manufacturer, as one of five companies to help expand Europe’s public charging infrastructure. Quick chargers offered by DBT are the same as those Nissan began selling in Japan last November – CHAdeMO – compatible direct current (DC) chargers – that charge to 80% capacity in 30 minutes.

DBT installed Europe’s first of this type at Nissan’s Rolle office just days before the start of the Geneva Motor Show.

Alexandre Borgolitz, Director of Business Development for DBT, said 100 new chargers in Scandinavia and 100 in the UK will be installed – as much as 70% by DBT – before June.

Borgolitz said one key issue for network build-up is the kind of charger. German automakers, said Borgolitz, are developing a “combo plug”to offer another form of DC charging to compliment CHAdeMO’s DC charging and alternating current (AC). The expectation is for many future charging options.

Mossberg said a strong network “will make sense with the economic tradeoffs, because electricity will cost less than using oil. It will be the same competition as it used to be between oil and diesel. The network will come – I’m convinced, but it will take time.”

Coco Masters

Nissan Global Media Center

Cars, Management, Motor Shows, Technology, Zero Emission

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