May 07. 2012 9:00AM - Last modified: May 07. 2012 9:28AM

ABB begins U.S. car charger production

The ABB Group in New Berlin has started manufacturing a product, the Terra 51, that can fully recharge electric cars in as little as 15 minutes.

The Zurich-based power and automation technology company has a large global presence, with about 140,000 employees worldwide, 500 of them in Wisconsin. ABB’s New Berlin branch also makes motor drives used for pumping and fan applications.
The Terra 51 is a DC fast charger the company has had success with in Europe. The company’s 100,000-square-foot New Berlin facility will lead U.S. sales and manufacturing for the product.
“The impact of the electric vehicle program is bringing on about 20 additional employees at this time,” said Jeff Theys, North American operations manager for electric vehicle charging.
There are three levels of charging for electric vehicles, Theys said. The lowest level, 120 volts, comes with the vehicle and is meant for overnight charging at home. Level two takes about six hours, and is for the office. The top level is DC fast charging, which takes 15 to 30 minutes with ABB’s stations.
“You pull in your car and it’s almost comparable to a filling station,” Theys said. The average person spends 12 minutes at a gas station, he said.
Competitors for electric vehicle charging stations include Seimens, Eaton and GE.
The quicker charge requires a lot of energy and special installation, so it is only being targeted to commercial filling stations at the moment, said Ken Graber, marketing and communications manager for ABB.
The company is taking preliminary orders for the Terra 51 and plans to start production July 1.