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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, CHAdeMO or SAE Combo?

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Nissan Leaf SL with both CHAdeMO and the old SAE Charge Ports
Nissan Leaf SL with both CHAdeMO and the old SAE Charge Ports

While pretty much everyone agrees that more electric vehicle charging stations are necessary, not everyone agrees which connector or charging protocol should be used.

Often in the beginning stages of a new technology, there will be different approaches to achieve similar results. Take videotape for example, VHS and BetaMax, which both had their pros and cons. BetaMax disappeared in the late 1990s. More recently, the war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray resulted in HD-DVD going by the wayside. Electric vehicle charging stations could be headed for the same conflict, with at least three protocols out there at the moment, including, CHAdeMO, Tesla, and SAE. These connectors are different configurations and their corresponding chargers are capable of different voltage and amperage.

Additionally, not all vehicles are equipped with all three connectors. Nissan Leaf comes with just the older SAE connector and the high-end SL comes with the CHAdeMO connector as well. When asked if the next Leaf will come with the upcoming SAE Combo connector, Brendan Jones, director of Nissan Leaf Marketing, replied simply, “not at this time.” If Nissan Leaf isn’t going to have the SAE Combo connector, then it is clear that Nissan plans to continue its plan to develop and roll out more CHAdeMO chargers.

The CHAdeMO electric vehicle charging station is cheaper to install, just $15,500 for the unit, while other LIII chargers range from $25,000 to $40,000 each. This is good news for those hoping to see an expanding electric vehicle infrastructure. Will the connectors cause a split or come together? Perhaps one solution might be to install multiple charge ports on the vehicle, such as the Tesla Model S, which can accept the CHAdeMO charger with a factory-installed adapter. On the other hand, charging stations can be equipped with different plugs and software to control them, such as the GRIDbot CHAdeMO/SAE Combo charger.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Tesla now has the CHAdeMO adaptor on their website. There are over 300 CHAdeMO stations now in the USA and over 3000 around the world. As I write this, there is exactly one SAE “Frankenplug” installed by NRG/eVgo in San Diego, California as a public demonstration at the request of GM and BMW.
    NRG/eVgo has an agreement with the state of California to install 200 Frankenplugs along side 200 CHAdeMO chargers in the four major metropolitan areas of the state. While CHAdeMO stations are already being installed, the Frankenplug stations won’t be installed (with the exception of the San Diego demo unit aforementioned) until two companies have UL listed chargers and at least one company offers a car in California to actually use them. As I write this, there’s not a single privately owned car that can. The not very funny part is that there is currently more hydrogen cars and more hydrogen stations!!!!
    Tesla will be knocking it out of the park in the upcoming years when all the USA, southern portions of Canada, and most of Europe are outfitted with Superchargers. Nissan is actively engaged in promoting and installing CHAdeMO stations. But, neither GM, nor the German auto makers have made any motions toward physically paying for or installing their specific protocol chargers. Public monies (and enthusiasm) are increasingly scarce for car brand specific chargers.
    I always find it odd that folks don’t ask General Motors or the German auto makers who are promoting the Frankenplug if they are going to switch to CHAdeMO. Or ask Tesla when they are switching to either Frankenplug or CHAdeMO. Just Nissan. MMMmmmmmm.
    The bottom line is the bottom line; there are about 15,000 Tesla cars with dozens of Supercharger locations to charge at, and each of those stations typically have 8 charging stalls). In four years, there will be 50,000 to 100,000 Tesla cars and 100-200 charging locations with 120kW or greater charging speeds, and they will be on the cusp of their mass market Model E car.
    Also, Nissan will has 40,000 LEAFs in the USA (and 80,000 worldwide) and in four years, they will have 150,000 or more. It hard for me to imagine a situation where GM or the German car makers provide much more than the California Air Resources Board (CARB) minimum requirement of vehicles to comply with Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations. Maybe BMW. It doesn’t give great hope for their standard.
    http://shop.teslamotors.com/products/chademo-adapter

  2. Tesla has no such adapter at this time and has indicated it would only be available in Europe and Japan not the USA. They have decided to only offer DC charging as a $12000 option off the base model in the USA. For such a progressive innovative company this decision is highly disappointing considering cars costing almost 1/2 the price have it as standard equipment.

    • @TeslaLosingMe I know. Everyone’s trying to “Set the Standard” but there’s no concencus. I didn’t even go into the European charging protocols.
      I found this interview pretty interesting http://www.sae.org/mags/sve/prdmg/11923

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