EV Update: Super Charger for Electric Motorcycle

 

CHARGER_TEAM

“Hey, Jo!” began Brandon’s message. “Hope all is well with you! I am about to release a new charger for Zero Motorcycles that fits into the tank, and lets you charge up the bike in about an hour.” Since most of the EVs that I’ve had first-hand experience with take almost a full night to recharge, I was definitely intrigued. Even more so, of course, because: Brandon.

Brandon, if you don’t know, is a long-time friend of Gas 2. He even wrote a few articles for us back when he first picked up his 2014 Zero SR and, before that, when he was a part of the 2012 ReFuel event. He’s a good dude, and he absolutely understands what both EV enthusiasts and motorcyclists want from their rides. So, as at least one of those two things, I asked him about his charger.

“We’re calling it the Super Charger,” explained Brandon (paraphrasing here). “It gives you between 75 and 90 miles in an hour, and it fits in your tank.”

This, of course, confused the he(ck) out of me, because Zero Motorcycles — which are, you know, electric — don’t actually have fuel tanks. “I’ll get you some pictures in just a few,” said Brandon. “I’m going into a meeting with engineers again, now.”

A few minutes later, as promised, I received my explanation …

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… which brings the point home rather nicely, don’t you think? “The best thing is that it’s easy to install,” he says. “Literally any one could do this with a screwdriver and Allen key. There’s no confusing electric stuff or anything … I guess if someone wants it professionally installed by a dealer it should be pretty cheap. With some experience, they should be able to install it in under an hour. A place that knows the bikes like Hollywood Electrics could do it in maybe 30 minutes.”

There’s apparently a smartphone app that goes along with the new Super Charger, since I got a screencap from Brandon’s phone that shows off some pretty serious charging power …

CHARGER_GRAPHIC

… I’d be lying if I said I knew what all of that meant just by looking at it, but I get that the gist of it is a motorcycle that be all set for a full day of commuting after just 45 minutes to an hour of being plugged into a standard wall socket. That’s pretty good, and quite a bit better than my own most recent experience with the iMiEV!

You can check out Brandon’s official press release, below, and check out DigiNow’s website for pricing and availability. If you have time, let us know what you think of this latest charging product for electric bikes in the comments section at the bottom of the article.

 

DigiNow is Pleased to Announce the Release of the First Production On-board/Off-board Super Charger Compatible with Zero Motorcycles.


 

The Super Charger is the result of the collaboration between DigiNow and eMotorWerks, an experienced and effective team of power electronics engineers. The innovative design leveraged open collaborative input from some of the best experts around the world. We have been able to produce a Super Charger which can drop perfectly into a Zero’s Tank area and charge a Zero in most use cases in under an hour. Hollywood Electrics has also played a significant role in making this charger a reality. Their support and excellence in everything electric motorcycle related has been extremely valuable since the first DigiNow charge tank iterations in 2013.

With the DigiNow Super Charger Charge Tank, an owner has the ability to charge their motorcycle at up to 12kW peak power and up to 9kW continous power (while utilizing the onboard charger at the same time). This is 7–10 times more powerful than the stock charger and results in charging a battery from 0% to 80% in under 1 hour.

The Super Charger comes with a swappable J1772 connector in North America, and a Mennekes Connector in Europe. This will allow users to utilize the largest EV charging infrastructures in the world.

With the included J1772 connector, riders will be able to utilize the full power of virtually any J1772 charging station. This means a rider is able to remove their onboard charger to save weight and increase range and still charge at 7.5 kilowatts. The Super Charger is half the weight of the Zero Power Tank and provides the ability to be used both in the tank and in a tail case. This means that a rider could have both a Zero Power Tank and the DigiNow Super Charger installed on a bike for a true touring electric motorcycle. Which is exactly how electric evangelist Terry Hershner @electricTerry will be using this charger!

The Super Charger can also be used as an offboard charging station. Plug it into any NEMA 14-50 power outlet and enjoy up to 10kW continuous output power. Many locations have these outlets already, or can have the outlet easily installed. This means that dealers, homeowners and popular riding destinations can install these chargers developing the potential for an electric motorcycle Super Charger Network.

The install for a Super Charger is as simple as dropping it in the tank area or tail box and plugging it into the auxiliary charge port. For most people this should take less than 45 min, and far less for experienced technicians. Once installed, the stock Zero Power Tank cover will fit directly over the Super Charger. Dealers like Hollywood Electrics can order the tank cover for you and install the Super Charger as well.

 

Source | Photos: Brandon Miller, via DigiNow.





About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • Don Millar

    It’s about time they put a faster on-board charger in the Zero. It looks to me like this is a similar output to the 7.5 kiloWatt on – board charger that they have in the Tesla, but made to fit in a smaller space. However, to get it to charge at the 9 kiloWatt rate they are quoting, you would need both a 7.5 kiloWatt EVSE with a J1772 plug, and a 120 volt 15 amp plug to power the 1.4 kiloWatt onboard charger. If you are away from home and using a public charging station, hopefully they will have a 120 volt wall plug that’s close enough that you can use it, otherwise you will only be able to charge at 7.5 kilowatts, not the 9 kiloWatts that they are quoting. Also, for your home EVSE, you would need a 40 Amp max, (32 amp continuous) 240 volt EVSE in order to get a 7.5 kiloWatt output. It would be a lot easier to just put a factory 6.6 to 7.5 Kilowatt onboard charger in the Zero, and a J1772 plug, and carry an emergency 120 volt charger that also plugs onto the J1772 plug, like they do with electric cars.

    • Brandon Nozaki Miller

      There are new EVSE chargers that can do 10kW And Terry has showed me a few that are in CA that can do 12. Also you can plug into a NEMA 14-50 and get 10kW. Later once we get the CCS and chademo connectors and adapters ready you will be able to get 15kw for a bit before reducing down to 8ish kw to top off. Many DC stations don’t go down to Zero’s voltage, even though the network spec says they should.

      • Don Millar

        I guess my point is that their “Supercharger” is nothing more than a 7.5 kW add-on charger, coupled with their standard equipment 1.4 kW onboard charger, to give a total of 8.9 kW. Why not make the 7.5 kW onboard charger standard factory-installed equipment on the Zero, with a J1772 port that can connect to public charging stations, and carry an external 120 volt 1.4 kW charger with a J1772 plug for those times when all you can find is a wall plug (or to save you the cost of installing a 240 volt EVSE at home).

        • Brandon Nozaki Miller

          Well I guess the reason its not part of the factory bikes is because it’s difficult and expensive to develop this sort of charger. By allowing after market development it can save the company a lot of money and still get the customers what they want.

          It really depends on the station you go to they actually range from 3kw to 10kw at various jplugs.

          RV plugs give way more power, the main point would be that where ever you live or go, you can have a charger that will work, and aren’tlimited to just one type of station.

          • Don Millar

            This charger should be part of the factory bike, even if Zero has to purchase it from the after market developer. RV plugs are mostly at trailer parks which are located in remote areas, away from highways. Level 2 EVSE’s are generally located closer to highways.

      • Zero_X_Rider

        So add NEMA 14-50 to CHAdeMO and CCS Combo for DC fast charging up to 80 percent SOC? Usable as offboard charging station? Huh?

        Confusing, confusing. Need better and simpler explanations, clear, obvious and simpler pictures and graphics.

        Riders want to charge up faster and safely using common quick charge (and eventually also fast charge DC to 80 percent SOC) existing charging stations in the 10’s of thousands across the US. Riders may want to be shown that in clear, helpful pictures, graphics and simple text.

        For example, is NEMA 14-50 common in RV parks or some other common exterior locations? If so, what common location types? Is it DC fast charge? Will it stop charging automatically at high amps at 80 percent SOC to be safe? Is the correct NEMA 14-50 socket or plug part of this “supercharger” setup and can be carried nicely on the bike? If so, say just that and show a map with marked locations.

        • Brandon Nozaki Miller

          Awesome comment, it seems you grasped all the points pretty well. If you look at plug share or other apps you will see all the stations that can be used.

          ChaDeMo and CCS excluded for now.

          Showing a map of all of the j plugs in the US would be a pretty great example of just how many places you can charge with this tank. Thanks for the feedback! We will definitely incorporate this. If you want to email more opinions or suggestions we are open ears.

          • Zero_X_Rider

            Thank you. There is no good, deailed comprehensive source of all publically available j plugs that I am aware of and what’s out there changes constantly. There are many partial sources, including plugshare and US DOE, that paint a very incomplete picture. Whoever compiles a truly comprehensive and detailed national map, with three prong level 1, j plug level 2, DC fast charge CHADEMO and CCS Combo stations, NEMA 14-50 outlets and Tesla chargers all shown differently and highlights all road sections and regions lacking a broad variety of frequent charging types will be doing humanity a favor. I understand that the result of such an effort will change, but that type of periodic documentation is very useful for mainstreaming growth industries. Sounds like a good intern or high school student project for some media site or aftermarket product group? In the meantime, I look forward to seeing your map on your site. Thanks!

  • Zero_X_Rider

    Screen shows 88 amps charging above 80 percent SOC? Lions and tigers and bears, oh my…

    This seems maybe overly complicated and confusing for riders as shown and described on first glance, a barrier to adoption. Riders may want feedback from Zero on this setup and better explanations on using existing L2 J-1772 charging stations and J-1772 to NEMA three prong cord for L1 low infrastructure areas and final top offs.

    6.6 to 7.2 kW or so L2 J-1772 charging seems like a sufficient additional faster charging option to supplement the current L1 three prong NEMA charging, if possible. We can only have one or the other? Not clear.

  • disqus_VbsyJP1wbB

    Will this work with all models of Zero or only the SR currently? I’m specifically interested in the DS.