Chicago gets its first DC Quick Charge station

by Ernie Hernandez on December 7, 2011

LEAF charge port openMidway Airport cell phone waiting lot to host first charger

According to the Chicago Tribune, the first DC Quick Charger has been installed in the cell phone waiting lot at Midway International Airport. The second is due to be installed this week at the University of Illinois.

The significance of this news is that it actually caused Nissan to step up distribution of the LEAF into the Chicago area ahead of their initially scheduled timetable because of the states support for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. The plan is to have over 70 DC Quick Chargers installed by year end (an ambitious goal we think). This is particularly ambitious as their target is to also install 200 240-volt Level 2 charging docks by year end also. Over 100 of the 240-volt charging docks have already been installed, so they have demonstrated the ability to get things done. According to Mariana Gerzanych, chief executive of 350Green, the company managing the infrastructure build out, they plan to be on time and on budget.

Before we go on, let’s analyze the placement of this charger location. It is at the airport, where one may leave their car for hours or days. You might wish to have a DC Quick Charger available to get home after your trip. Also, by having it off-site in the Midway cell phone waiting lot, it is only minutes from the airport and easily accessible. Others major cities looking for locations for DC quick chargers should take note. Assuming one still has a few electrons left in the battery upon arrival, 15-20 minutes of charging should be able to get you home. Another advantage is this: EV drivers will not be unplugging others that arrived before them in the parking structure to plug in their own car. We feel that one or two DC Quick Chargers, optimally placed, is a much better and ultimately less expensive investment than 12 240-volt charging docks improperly located. There will be no cost initially to recharge, with a pricing plan to be implemented early next year.

The state of Illinois is making it particularly attractive to buy an electric vehicle. On top of the Federal tax credit of $7,500, the state is offering an additional incentive of $4,000 to Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) buyers. This potentially reduces the acquisition cost of the LEAF by $11,500.

Another bit of good news gleaned from the Tribune article – according to Brendan Jones, Director of Nissan LEAF Marketing and Sales Strategy, Nissan is expecting 800 DC Quick Charger installations in the US within 90 days and over 1,000 more in 2012. Again, the year-end goal sounds optimistic to us, but we would love to see it come about. These stations have received the ETL Listed Mark (Electrical Testing Labs) issued by Intertek. The ETL Listed Mark is equivalent to a UL listing.

UPDATE 2/4/12: According to a comment provided below, this Midway Airport cell phone waiting lot location has a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, not a 480-volt DC fast charger. We will attempt to contact 350Green, the charging station provider to resolve the question of the Level 3 charge station installation.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom K December 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

It would be nice to actually be able to use a QC here in SoCal instead of reading about it all the time. The only QC station I’m aware of is at Mitsubishi HQ in Cypress. It is currently broken and awaiting parts (about a month now)… At least the hotel we’re staying at while we visit Disneyland has an old legacy charger that still works…


Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) December 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I agree that the frustration quotient is pretty high. While we have never had a need to charge our LEAF away from home, should the need arise, it would be nice to have choices available. In time this will come to pass. Meantime…


indyflick December 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

The reason we don’t have any quick charging, and very little public charging at all, is due to ECOtality and their failed EV Project. ECOtality stepped up and said they would build this massive EV charging infrastructure so no one else did. Everyone figured it would be redundant and a waste of time to compete with the EV Projects plans. Then ECOtality failed to follow through and their was no plan B. So here we sit in San Diego with the largest population of EVs in the country and no damn public charging.


Fightinsquirrel February 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

Did you really check facts or just respiting bs after Chi Tribune?Today, 2/4/12 so two months later there is ZERO quick charges in Chicago and those you write about are no different then ones at Walgreens.


Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) February 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Fightinsquirrel – welcome to Living LEAF. The first sentence of our post said “According to the Chicago Tribune”, with a link to their article. We did look to the 350Green website, but found no press release regarding the installation of the charging station, so that is why we included the attribution to the Chicago Tribune, with the link to the original article. We apologize if the information is incorrect.


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