What if you could charge an electric vehicle (EV) in about the same amount of time that its take to fuel up a gasoline car? Would EVs reach mainstream status if charging them was a simple, three minute procedure? Well, we may find out soon. The Nikkei newspaper is reporting that Japen-based JFE Engineering Corp. has developed an entirely new charging system that can take an electric vehicle from empty to halfway charged in just three minutes. Get your stopwatches ready.

Sound impossible? It might be if the charger worked like any other on the market. It doesn't. The JFE system uses lithium-ion batteries to store energy during off-peak hours, then directs all of this energy in a three minute burst into the EV. By utilizing batteries for energy storage, the charger does not rely on super high amperage nor does it require rewiring of existing facilities to function correctly. Running on a standard current, JFE states that its system could save a gas station an average of $9,500 per year (U.S.) in electricity costs over a traditional fast-charging setup, but failed to mention how much more it could add in upfront costs.

Almost everything has a downside and the JFE charger is no exception. To get the full benefit of this new system, EVs will have to be reprogrammed and additional battery safeguards may be needed. Yeah, that's quite a drawback, but the system will work at 'normal' speeds (recharging an EV to 80 percent capacity in about 15 minutes) without these changes. JFE is discussing the adaptations with automakers and hopes that the idea of a three-minute half-charge will convince them to make the necessary changes.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]