The Consumer Electronic Show, now only known as CES, is becoming a popular trade show for the automotive industry. The auto section was a significant part of the show this year and while it was light on new products, we decided to give ‘Electrek awards’ to the best of CES 2017 for electric vehicle products.
Best EV Accessory of CES 2017: ChargePoint’s new Express Plus 400 kW charging station
ChargePoint’s Express Plus DC fast-charging technology unveiled at CES is an important piece of the future of electrification for all ground transport.
The higher charge rate is not only significantly higher than everything available today, but it also beats some upcoming charging systems by other companies.
The modular and upgradeable nature of the new charging architecture could lower the entry price and convince more businesses to install them and gradually update the system as more EVs get on the roads with higher charge rates. For example, a gas station could start by only installing two charge ports with the conduits for the wiring and later on, when electric cars, buses and trucks with higher charge rates become available and more prominent in their region, they can add a ‘Power Cube’ and more charge ports.
ChargePoint is also opening the system to multiple standards, CCS and CHAdeMO, and it is keeping a slot for a third connector to be added to the stations as part of the modular system. It’s particularly interesting considering the company’s work with Tesla’s own connector:
Overall, it looks like a significant step in the right direction for EV infrastructure.
For all those reasons, we gave an Electrek Best of CES 2017 Award to ChargePoint:
Best Electric Vehicle of CES 2017: Chrysler’s all-electric Portal Concept
There were a few new electric cars unveiled at CES this year, but they were mainly concepts. Toyota had a new EV concept, but it was mainly to showcase their new AI technology. Of course, Faraday Future unveiled the FF91 and while it has interesting specs, the company is still far from having it together and the event clearly showed that.
Chrysler’s new all-electric Portal minivan concept was also unveiled at CES and it is the winner of our ‘Best Electric Vehicle of CES 2017’ award.
Although only a concept and it clearly has some design cues that are not really welcomed in new EVs or concept vehicles anymore, it is definitely a step in the right direction for Chrysler following the release of the plug-in version of the Pacifica.
Chrysler wasn’t a leader in electrification and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has been known to make unpopular but frank comments about electric cars and the future of the auto industry. He often said that electric vehicles are only useful for compliance today and the market is otherwise not important.
But the Pacifica is now an important program for the automaker and its PHEV version is the only plug-in minivan available in the US.
It’s not that much of leap to bring it to the all-electric segment from there and that’s basically what the Portal Concept is since it’s built on the same platform. It is, of course, equipped with a battery pack several times larger: 100 kWh.
Chrysler claims it will achieve over 250 miles of range on a single charge. It will be able to charge with the latest ‘ultra-fast’ 350 kW DC fast-charging that some automakers started investing in lately – and likely ChargePoint’s own new system if it can take CCS or CHAdeMO. It could add 150 miles of range in less than 20 minutes.
The Portal is also the next step in Chrysler autonomous driving effort following its pilot program with Google (now Waymo) and the Pacifica.
Minivans are great vehicles for ride-sharing and that will not change with the advent of autonomous driving. Tesla wants to do something similar with a self-driving minibus built on the Model X chassis.
That’s why Chrysler designed the interior of the Portal around the fact that the vehicle wouldn’t necessarily need a driver:
The sensor integration on the Portal is a lot better than on the Waymo prototype of the Pacifica plug-in. We could see Chrysler launching a ride-sharing service using an all-electric production-intent version of the Portal built on the Pacifica platform.