honda tests solar charging.automotiveIT

The industry is working hard on new EV charging technologies. Honda is testing solar charging stations

German researchers are testing a new charging station for electric vehicles that can adapt to different plug-in standards.

The Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart (FKFS), an independent institute that provides research and development services for the international automotive industry, has developed the station, which is called ELITE. That is the German acronym for energy-efficient, high-performance and intelligent charging station for electric vehicles.

The station can handle fast charging and is easy to use. It can also identify vehicles and handle billing.

Battery recharging - and battery technology in general - continues to be a key issue in the commercial success of electric vehicles. With different batteries, different plugs, different standards and a dearth of recharging stations, many potential buyers of EVs are worried that they will be stranded in their cars without power.

The problem is compounded by the relatively limited range of today's EVs. Most can travel at most 150km before having to recharge batteries. Some new models such as the Opel Ampera/Chevrolet Volt deal with the issue by adding a so-called range extender, a small gasoline engine that can propel the car when needed.

The FKFS wants to test its new station to see how users respond to its various functions.

ELITE can handle up to three electric vehicles at a time, it can manage different charging standard using cables or inductive technology. And electric vehicles can recharge with a variety of different plugs.

Said Hans-Christian Reuss, professor for automotive mechatronics at Stuttgart University: "The configuration of ELITE lets us get power from the local grid, store energy from different sources,and feed regenerative power back to the grid from a stationary storage unit or from a connected electric vehicle."