A charging station newly opened in one of China’s biggest cities is capable of rapidly recharging 30 electric buses, all at the same time.

“Each new bus takes only 10-15 minutes to complete recharging the battery,” said a representative with the charging station. “Charging each bus takes place 2-3 times per day, during driver breaks, with several route loops between each charge.”


Foton electric bus equipped with Microvast battery system.

Covering 285,000 square feet, the Beijing charging complex represents the latest collaboration for Microvast (a China-based manufacturer that builds EV batteries) and utility company China State Grid.

In 2012, the two companies worked together on what they termed the “world’s first commercial, ultrafast charge, electric vehicle charging station.” Also located in Beijing, this first station was tasked with charging more than 30 plug-in and electric buses that serviced the Chongqing International Airport. Batteries were still recharged in about 10 minutes, but with six charging stalls and 22,000 square feet, the station was a fraction of the size.

For the new charging station, natural gas hybrid buses were converted to electric with ultra-fast charging lithium-titanate batteries. They are among the latest technology in a line of low-emission transportation options tested in Beijing. Battery swapping in electric buses was also tried for a while in the hopes that it would reduce downtime from charging, but the experiment proved to be too costly (both to invest in the extra batteries and for battery swapping robots) and required significant space to store the extra batteries.

SEE ALSO: Idaho National Lab Compares Volt, Leaf and PEV Charging Realities

Microvast said it wants to continue working with utility companies to build more ultra-fast charging stations over the next five years, including ones for public use, and noted that this type of charging option could potentially entice more people to adopt a plug-in vehicle.

“The UltraFast charge station works just like common gas stations and allows electric buses, and in the future passenger cars, to fill up very quickly and serve many vehicles in a short period of time,” said Lance Deng, the vice president of corporate strategy for Microvast. “This is an exploration into a viable new business model that opens the door to utility companies who realize the big potential of the trend of electric vehicles in the future, and want to build themselves into the future gas company-like giants that sell large amounts of electricity on the road-side charging stations.”