TRANSPORTATION Charger standards fight confuses electric vehicle …

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Charger standards fight electric vehicle buyers, car company investments at risk

Pyper, EE reporter

The second of a series on all-electric cars. To the first part, click .

An emerging clash between vehicle quick-chargers is the auto rerun of the VHS versus Betamax battle.

For the electric vehicle there is the Japanese-developed CHAdeMO Then there is the Society of Engineers’ (SAE) International Combo standard. Both are quick-charging systems designed to the battery of an electric vehicle to 80 in about 20 minutes.

Filling her up juice. Photo courtesy of the Network.

But, like the these two systems are designed to be incompatible.

DC fast charging is seen as a pivotal way to reduce the anxiety associated with electric vehicles (BEVs) and to consumer acceptance of zero-emissions The standards war puts potentially of dollars in investments at stake and shape the electric vehicle for decades to come.

As of July 1, were 283 publicly available chargers installed in the United according to the software and services Recargo. Japanese automakers Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors offer vehicles in the United today that use the CHAdeMO — the Leaf and the i-Miev, Toyota Motor Co. also the CHAdeMO standard but has yet to launch a with quick-charge capability.

of the SAE Combo standard include industry heavyweights General Co. Ford Motor Co. Volkswagen and BMW AG.

However, Combo chargers are not yet available, and the first Combo-compatible the Chevrolet Spark, only went on sale.

Tension the two camps is palpable. At a California last year Shad GM’s manager of environment and policy, called for the boycott of chargers. CHAdeMO supporters, in have called the SAE Combo the plug without cars.

Meanwhile, experts warn the could kill the momentum of the vehicle market.

Fast however and whenever it gets out, is going to be key for the development of a market for plug-in electric said Richard Martin, director at Navigant Research. The conflict between the CHAdeMO and SAE connectors, we see that as a hindrance to the over the next several that needs to be worked

A plot against Nissan?

The Leaf was the first next-generation BEV to go on in 2010. While more and automakers are starting to offer vehicles, Nissan remains the automaker committed to producing a zero-emission vehicle in all 50 states ( . July 23). With Leafs on the road and hundreds of already in the ground, right the de facto standard is CHAdeMO, Brendan Jones, director of vehicle infrastructure strategy at North America.

Working developer AeroVironment Inc. plans to install at least 600 quick chargers by March year. Tesla Motors plans to roll out hundreds of chargers, but they will be available to the pool of Model S

With Nissan leading the BEV market and next to no Combo-compatible on the road, some have that efforts to boycott are part of a ploy to slow down.

It makes commercial if you’re a late entry the market, to try and slow the development of the by stopping the market leader gaining greater market said Llewelyn Hughes, an professor of political science and affairs at George Washington who focuses on energy issues.

The charging standards are likely to play out in the vehicle marketplace in of which company can offer the car for the best price with the charging system, he said.

So there’s going to be that battle between automakers these particular model [of battery electric vehicles], added. Then there be the non-market battle, as well, you try and get governments and cities to sign up your particular standard.


The Department of Energy’s EV the nation’s largest deployment of infrastructure to date, is only CHAdeMO systems. Infrastructure ECOtality Inc. is leading the with $114.8 million by DOE through the American Recovery and Act and a total budget of $230

The project, now in its final months, support the installation of 13,000 2 chargers for both residential and use, as well as 200 CHAdeMO chargers. About 80 fast have been installed to

We’re in a little bit of a spot frankly, if we had J1772 on all the fast right now, there be] zero vehicles out there to use and even by the time our installation is there will be few vehicles out to use them, said Patrick DOE’s program manager for technologies.

But DOE is also sensitive to the that a number of major are committed to the Combo standard, added. DOE has discussed whether to go and replace some of the cord on existing chargers or add Combo to existing stations. It’s however, that the department go back and retrofit all 200 chargers, he

Certainly, going forward, officials] are likely thinking which of these standards want to support, said of Navigant Research. They don’t want to see headlines say the DOE supports a Japanese standard one that was developed in America.

Fast charging is not essential. BEV will always be able to using slower level 1 or 2 chargers. Still, public chargers are an important tool for range anxiety and making vehicle ownership more

If consumers feel they find the infrastructure they it will likely discourage and prevent electric cars going mainstream.

There’s no this isn’t a positive for the market or for owners. It’s not anybody would plan or if we designed it from scratch as far as a Davis said.

It’s a bit like a standards war, not VHS versus Betamax, he added. likely to be a winner, and it’s to take a few years to figure out who or which standard wins, but at point we don’t see how it’s

A collision foreseen by experts

Nawabi, senior vice and general manager of efficient systems at AeroVironment, Nissan’s charging-station developer, said his is standard-agnostic but sees the discrepancy as a for the nascent market.

I’m disappointed, actually, Nawabi I don’t think it’s for this to be the case.

Experts after all, see this The CHAdeMO Association — a between Fuji Heavy Tokyo Electric Power Co. Nissan and Mitsubishi — has working on its charger since

The group commissioned the first CHAdeMO charging station in

In a 2011 workshop report, the National Standards Institute the incompatibility of fast-charging connector as a top concern for the EV industry that result in higher costs for manufacturers and consumers. According to the Roll-out of vehicles with DC charge capability (e.g. Leaf with CHAdeMO prior to standardization is a problem.

The development process needs to be

When asked at a recent vehicle conference why they to pursue a separate standard of adopting the existing CHAdeMO American and European automakers to the collaborative nature of the SAE Combo and its advantages.

It isn’t as if there benefits at the time for an early market for CHAdeMO to be there, but we are in an open process where all automakers are involved, said Clute, manager of global infrastructure strategy at Ford Co.

Waldemar Schweigert, who leads in drive technologies at Volkswagen, that the Combo standard be able to deliver charge at 86 versus 50 kW for CHAdeMO, and recharge a in a shorter period of time its competitor.

Charging stations both standards?

While the SAE won’t be commercially available for with Ford, Volkswagen, GM and BMW to it, the Combo standard could one day CHAdeMO obsolete.

If one standard prevail, it could streamline and bolster the BEV market. But it will been an expensive diversion. charging stations cost $15,000 and $25,000 plus costs, which can bring the up to $150,000.

In that sense, is a little bit different from the VHS Betamax story, because could just throw their Betamax when VHS said Hughes. Here, going to have the equivalent to gas all over the place that [tens of thousands] to put into the and a lot of them are probably going to be obsolete technology. What do you do that?

It’s going to be an problem.

But some don’t see it as of a problem at all.

Ultimately, DC charging stations could end up gas stations in the sense that offer both CHAdeMO and chargers, just like a gas offers both a gasoline and

The crest of the wave has already where people are investing in so pretty much everything this point on large in Europe and, I think, in the is going to be dual standard or the ability to upgrade to dual said Cal Lankton, director of vehicle charging infrastructure at ABB which offers electric charging equipment.

Because the of the cost is embedded in the installation — which includes trenching concrete, upgrading and putting in hardware — it not cost twice as much to both CHAdeMO and Combo Lankton said. Instead, a matter of adding the cost of the itself.

Big money rides on the

At an additional $25,000 a pop that, still add up to a multimillion-dollar difference. But are, indeed, moving with dual stations. The NRG subsidiary eVgo, for instance, to offer both types of at its Freedom Stations once the SAE passes all safety certifications.

We it’s a financially viable business market, said Banskota, president of NRG Energy’s vehicle services.

The CHAdeMO itself acknowledges that charging stations are the best Many charger manufactures be coming out this year this dual charger and we are to see that this will service the full market, Ohga, a representative of the CHAdeMO wrote in an email. Whether it business sense to adopt versus one is not a difficult decision to by the investor.

Unfortunately, standards for electric vehicles don’t end fast charging. There are issues between charger systems, which prevent from using all of the available There are also discrepancies in the wireless-charging space.

Tesla’s proprietary Superchargers add yet layer of complexity to a situation in millions of dollars are being in fast chargers that a select group of vehicles can

A standards war in the fledgling BEV market only moves a few thousand each month may seem But the market is growing. Navigant predicts that the global for all plug-in vehicles will hit 3 units by 2020, representing 3 of the global market. The standards in itself lends credit to the of electric transportation.

Whether by consumer needs, larger trends or regulations, it shows automakers and the supporting industry are taking electric vehicles

Look at the value chain and how has already been invested and how people have so much in making [electric vehicles] said Banskota. There’s a lot on it. There are a lot of people’s success riding on it.

So there’s no going this time around.

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