The charger is probably new, I guess.. the cells have been routinely charged in 10 minutes for many years. Mostly its just an exercise for the students on how to do a car from the ground up, including putting a BUNCH of cells together and the battery management system.
I'm not a battery expert, but does it make any difference charging 8,000 cells wired together than just charging a single cell or a few cells? I think basically it's just to show that it can be done. It will at least show EV skeptics that someone somewhere has done it, made a car that completely negates the advantages fossil fuels have in every way, acceleration, range, and recharge time.
Sadly the fact that it's MIT doing it kinda takes away from the "it's easily possible" kind of thing they're trying to promote. If Jake's community college did it, that would turn even more heads.