IRSCHENBERG, Germany, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- German electric utility E.ON says it has begun installation of the first fast-charging stations for electric vehicles along public roadways in the country.
A prototype of the E.ON stations was unveiled last week in Bavaria, at the Irschenberg exit of the A8 motorway. The direct current, 50-kilowatt station marked the first time a fast-charging EV station has been opened to the public in Germany, the company said.
The idea, E.ON says, is to expand the range of EVs. Currently with ranges of about 60 miles, such vehicles are mainly used by commuters who charge them in their garages overnight.
The utility says the fast-charging stations can recharge vehicles within 30 minutes and, with eventual availability along the nation's highways, Germans could use electric vehicles for intercity travel.
"Fast-charging stations definitely make electric vehicles more versatile," Ruth Werhahn, who manages E.ON's E-mobility projects, said in a statement. "(They) make it possible to cope well with greater distances of (100 to 125 miles), for example from Munich to Salzburg or from Stuttgart to Frankfurt."
Using the Japanese "CHAdeMO protocol" for the plug-ins, the station will work with Mitsubishi I MiEV, Peugeot iOn, Citroen C-Zero and, in the future, Nissan Leaf vehicles, and will cost $7.25 to use in a procedure that takes 20-30 minutes.
Electricity dispensed at the stations will be generated solely using renewable production from E.ON's hydroelectric plants, the company said.
The 30-minute mark is only a first step for the stations, E.ON Research and Technology Manager Klaus-Dieter Maubach said, indicating the goal is to cut charging time to a few minutes.
"Such public stations are attractive to customers and energy suppliers alike only if they have short recharging times. We are therefore pursuing this approach with particular interest," he said.
E.ON's announcement came only days after a major fast-charging station development in the United States, where the Oregon Department of Transportation tapped a California company to install and operate 22 of the facilities along major transportation corridors in northwest Oregon.
Funded by a $2 million federal government grant, state officials say they will complete installation of the stations by December 2012.
"Electric vehicles are a huge part of Oregon's future," Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said. "They will ensure that we can kick the fossil-fuel habit that hamstrings our economy and national security and deploying this infrastructure shows that we are, and will continue to be, a leader."
Under the Oregon plan, AeroVironment Inc., says its fast-charging stations will allow EV drivers to recharge in as little as 15 to 20 minutes and is part of a multi-state planning initiative called the Green Highway initiative, which envisions an EV-charging infrastructure along the U.S. West Coast.
A system of fast-charging stations is also being installed this year in Norway for Lyse Energi.
The Dutch company Epyon B.V. announced in April it would install two more such facilities in the country after completing an initial station in the southern city of Sandnes, near the E39 highway to Stavanger.
Norwegian Transport Minister Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa said the system is the first in the world to offer electricity through fast-charging outlets as well as biogas -- part of Lyse Energi's "fuels of the future" service model.
Like the other fast-charging stations, the Norwegian Terra 51 models can charge an EV battery in 15-30 minutes and are equipped with Web-updateable software to make the compatible with new car models and applications.