Does Dongfeng Nissan’s Chinese Market Venucia e30 Hint at Faster Nissan LEAF Charging?

It’s produced under license in a partnership between Chinese-based Dongfeng Motor Co., Ltd., and Japanese-based Nissan motors, retails for an eye-watering RMB 267,800 ($43,601), and is essentially a Nissan LEAF electric hatchback with a few cosmetic tweaks to make it more appealing to the Chinese buyer.

But while the Dongfeng Venucia e30 EV looks very much like a current generation Nissan LEAF from afar, a hint in the official press release accompanying the launch of the e30 in China suggests that it might be hiding a few things under its star-badged nose. Namely, faster charging.

As eagle-eyed reader Brian Henderson notes, the official announcement from Nissan marking the launch of the Dongfeng Venucia in China lists the car as having quick-charging capabilities capable of adding 60 kilometres of range in just five minutes.

Inside and out, the Dongfeng Venucia e30 EV — not to be confused with the Dongfeng Fengshen E30 EV — is pretty much identical to the Nissan LEAF and uses the same 80 kilowatt electric motor and 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack found in Nissan’s popular hatchback. Its range — quoted at 175 km under ideal conditions (109 miles) sits in-between the EPA’s official rating and the JC08 Japanese rating for the current model LEAF. Similarly, speed is listed at 144 kph, identical to the 90 mph achievable in the LEAF.

So does the Dongfeng Venucia e30 EV really have faster quick charging capabilities than the LEAF?

The Nissan LEAF can't charge as quickly as the Venucia e30 claims to.

The Nissan LEAF can’t charge as quickly as the Venucia e30 claims to.

Look at the math alone, and it certainly appears that Nissan or its Chinese partner has tweaked the Venucia e30 to have faster quick charging capabilities. Using Nissan’s own provided Venucia e30 energy consumption figures of 146 Wh per kilometre, Henderson says a five minute recharge would need at least 8.76 kilowatt-hours to be transferred into the car’s battery pack in order to achieve a 60 kilometre boost in range. The current Nissan LEAF would take between ten and twelve minutes to match that kind of range boost using current charging technology.

As Henderson himself points out, these figures don’t take into consideration the state of charge of an electric car’s battery pack at the start of the charging session. The higher the state of charge at the start of that five minutes, the slower the charging will be. The lower the state of charge, the faster it will be. But even in ideal situations, the figures quoted seem impossible using current Nissan LEAF technology.

That leaves us with two intriguing possibilities. Either Nissan or its partner Donfeng is using performance figures specifically calculated for the Chinese market, or the Venucia e30 really can charge faster than the Nissan LEAF.

Let’s deal with the second possibility first. As in other parts of the world, China uses its own proprietary DC quick charging standard for electric cars. Like the CHAdeMO DC quick charge standard and CCS quick charge standard however, it is currently limited in real-world application to a total power output of 50 kilowatts. At 50 kilowatts however, the rate of charge suggested by the e30’s official press release seems impossible.

Look at the CHAdeMO DC quick charge standard however — which can go beyond 50 kilowatts up to a current maximum of 65 kilowatts — and possibly even higher according to theoretical maximums of 100 kW —  and there’s a small chance that the Venucia e30 is using next-generation LEAF battery technology capable of sustaining a higher rate of charge without battery pack damage, perhaps with the aid of active air cooling as we found in Nissan’s recently-launched e-NV200.

With Nissan’s next-generation LEAF due within the next 18 months or so, it’s plausible — although improbable — that the Venucia e30 is operating as a test-bed for next-generation LEAF technology. With China being the largest vehicle market in the world, it also makes sense that faster charging would be trailed in a market where the switch to electric vehicles is being seen as something of a necessity in order to tackle growing pollution.

That possibility is something which really does excite us, but if we had to guess with our pragmatic hat on, we’d have to suggest that the figure quoted in the official e30 press release is either erroneous rather than indicative of a new, secret, quick charge technology.

Do you agree? Or do you think the evidence suggests something else?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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