Imagine driving an electric car long distances--from Los Angeles to San Francisco--and not worrying about its batteries wearing down. That long-held dream of electric transportation advocates is becoming a reality with the roll out of high-power fast electric vehicle charging stations at gas stations and auto\/food plazas along interstates. It\u2019ll enable EV drivers to recharge while making a pit stop and getting a cup of Joe. Drivers simply scan their debit or credit cards--just like at a gas pump--and plug in their cars for a fast recharge while they take a break and stretch. One of the leading companies in electric vehicle technology developed a system that can top off EV batteries from 20 percent to 80 percent of capacity in 26 minutes. \u201cWe have been believers in fast-charge since we did the EV1,\u201d said Kristen Heisel, vice president of Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment\u2019s EV Solutions division. Aerovironment developed the prototype for the General Motors Impact, the first practical electric car later retooled by the company as the mass-market EV1 in the 1990s. Aerovironment is rolling out public fast charge systems that cost about $10,000 apiece to install. The Aerovironment fast-charge system employs direct current--as opposed to alternating current--and comes in two power ratings: 50 kW and 125 kW. One hitch that may cloud the future of the current version of the fast-charge system is that there still is uncertainty about a standardized operating protocol, acknowledged Heisel. For slower charging AC systems, she explained, the Society of Automotive Engineers has a universal operating protocol that all car and AC charge system manufacturers have adopted. This ensures that any AC system can charge any electric vehicle. The jury is still out when it comes to the protocol for fast charging, according to Heisel. Currently, Aerovironment employs a standard known as CHAdeMO (for \u201cCHArge de MOve\u201d) devised by that Tokyo Electric Power (the same company that operates the damaged nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefect). Aerovironment--the official charging infrastructure provider for the all-electric Nissan LEAF vehicle--is using the standard because all LEAFs are set up both for fast charging using CHAdeMO and slower AC charging on the universal standard. When drivers go to Nissan dealers to buy a LEAF, explained Heisel, Aerovironment arranges for a certified local electrician to visit their homes before any purchase contract is signed. The electrician finds out what\u2019s needed to install an AC charger and what it will cost. Car buyers then can finance the costs as part of their vehicle loan. She says it generally costs about $2,000 for a standard home charger installation.