Categories: Features
October 12, 2015
| On 6 years ago

DigiNow Zero Super Charger

DigiNow has today announced the launch of the Super Charger, which is able to bring any Zero Motorcycle since 2013 to at least 80% charge, in most use cases, in under an hour. The Super Charger can also be used to recharge batteries in other electric vehicles, including the Victory/Brammo, Lightning Motorcycles and even electric cars.

The Super Charger project was spearheaded by DigiNow’s Chief Technology Officer Brandon Nozaki Miller, who you might remember from our The Life Electric series, along with the assistance of eMotorWerks, an experienced team of electronic engineers in Mountain View, California.

When used in tandem with the onboard charger, DigiNow claims the Super Charger can charge at up to 12kW peak power and up to 9kW continuous – that’s 7-10 times more powerful than the standard Zero charger, allowing a completely drained battery to reach 80% charge in under 60 minutes. Of course, since most users don’t completely drain their batteries on each ride, this means a full charge could be achieved in even less time.

The naked Zero DS on the left reveals where the Super Charger would be positioned on a Zero not equipped with the Power Tank option. With the bodywork attached (right), the Super Charger is hidden from sight.

A J1772 connector is included with the Super Charger for North American customers (European customers get a Mennekes connector), allowing a rider to take advantage of the network of Level 2 charging stations around the country. In fact, Miller says he would personally remove the stock Zero onboard charger, which weighs 10lbs and only provides 1.3kW, and use the Super Charger exclusively, accepting the 20-lb weight penalty for the vastly superior 7.5kW charging power it provides at J1772 stations. When plugged into a NEMA 14-50 power outlet, the same outlet used for a household clothes dryer and the one found at many RV parks, charging power increases to 10kW continuous.

The Super Charger is able to be used either onboard a Zero or off, and can work in conjunction with the charger already equipped on the S, DS, SR or FX. For S, DS and SR models. The unit fits nicely in the compartment normally reserved for the Power Tank range extender in the faux gas tank, and weighs approximately half as much. FX models, and those who already have the Power Tank installed will have to use an aftermarket top case in order to fit the Super Charger. This is the setup electric evangelist Terry Hershner will be using on his Zero.

When it comes to putting the Super Charger to the test, there’s none better than Terry Hershner for the job. He’ll be receiving the first production unit and putting it through the wringer. Here you can see a prototype installed in his top case.

Because the Super Charger is portable and able to be carried in something like a top case, a major benefit of the Super Charger is its ability to be used on virtually any electric vehicle, two wheels or four. It can also be used as an off-board charging station when plugged into a NEMA outlet.

Miller says the connectors are modular to support the use of the Super Charger on a variety of electric vehicles, including older Zeros. “Their batteries are so small,” he said “they can be charged in no time.” He gave the example of a prototype Super Charger unit he tested on his 2012 Zero S with the ZF6 (6 kWh) battery, claiming that bike could go from fully flat to fully charged in under 40 minutes. “Charging from 30% to 90% would be ridiculous,” he said. “Like stop, plug in, go pee, then go ride again.”

The Super Charger can also be used at home as an off-board charger. Hershner’s dog, Charger, not included.

This isn’t DigiNow’s first foray into building Zero accessories, having built a Bluetooth dongle to connect a smartphone directly to the bike’s brain. However, its history with Zero has mostly been racing related. The small company isn’t tied up in bureaucracy whenever a change is called for, which gives Miller and his team the ability to be flexible and pivot quickly from one project to the next.

Introductory pricing for the Super Charger is set at $2944, and a very limited number of units will be available in the first production batch. The units will ship on November 24, and as an extra incentive for users, eMotorWerks will offer a generous discount on its JuiceBox EV Charging Station when purchased together with a Super Charger.