By on May 7, 2012


Even though the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i already have their own standard for “quick-charge” stations  - known as CHAdeMO, a standard supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru) - the SAE is apparently pitching its own standard of quick-charger outlets (pictured above), creating a situation that would be akin to having certain cars only compatible with certain gas pumps.

Supported by  BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, the new plug (above) is supposed to standardize charging across the world – even though CHAdeMO is already being used in significant numbers. While there is only one CHAdeMO station in the United States, Japan has adopted CHAdeMO as a standard, with 130 stations in Japan. The Nissan Leaf can be had with a standard plug and an optional CHAdeMO plug. The SAE system is being debuted at the May 6-9 EV Symposium – perhaps the opening salvo in the newest “VHS vs Betamax” spat.

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11 Comments on “American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard...”

  • avatar

    Yeah, I noticed this over the weekend. It’s annoying, but sort of expected — the SAE wanted a quick-charge plug that was compatible with their J1772 slow-charge plugs, rather than a whole separate thing like CHAdeMO is.

    So now we have a competing standard. On the bright side, this one is free to use, unlike the CHAdeMO plug that needs to be licensed from TEPCO. I think the end result here is that USDM electric cars will end up with one plug and JDM ones with the other.

  • avatar

    Auto developers please stop with the charge connector standard and switch to wireless resonate power transfer. Agree on a frequency, and move on with making cool electric cars.

  • avatar

    “perhaps the opening salvo in the newest “VHS vs Betamax” spat.”

    Edison vs Berliner

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Or SACD vs DVD-Audio. Both camps eventually lost.

    The last thing a struggling technology needs is a format war.

    If (and at this point, a BIG IF) plug-in EVs eventually go mainstream, perhaps the Japanese will keep their own propietary standard for domestic consumption. After all, japan is the only country where domestic AC voltage is 100 volts. Not 120, not 110, but 100.

    • 0 avatar

      50hz in Japan, too – not 60.

      • 0 avatar

        “In Japan, the electrical power supply to households is at 100 V. Eastern and northern parts of Honshū (including Tokyo) and Hokkaidō have a frequency of 50 Hz, whereas western Honshū (including Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima), Shikoku, Kyūshū and Okinawa operate at 60 Hz. The boundary between the two regions contains four back-to-back high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) substations which convert the frequency…”

        From Wikipedia and dozens of other sources.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, according to Wikipedia, it’s worse than that:
        The standard voltage at power outlets is 100 V, but the grids operate at different frequencies: 50 Hz in Eastern Japan and 60 Hz in Western Japan.

        When I was living in eastern Japan, electronics I brought from home in USA would work just fine, but the clocks on Korean and US manufactured items would run slow (50 minutes/hr) because they were controlled by line frequency. The electronics made in Japan for US market had Quartz Oscillators to keep time regardless of line frequency.

  • avatar

    How much of a problem is this beyond the connector shapes? Behind the connector it’s mostly just wires to the batteries. It seems like mfrs can swap one connector panel for the other depending on which market the vehicle is intended for. They’re obviously already dealing with AC vs. DC behind the connector panel, as well as variations in voltage.

    • 0 avatar

      Its not much of an issue (unless you have to retrofit a car), at that same show that Dereck mentioned there were three manufacturers that are planning on offering dual plug fast chargers… some were on display already pending certification… it will be years before any cars needing those plugs are on the market.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just connector shape — the plugs need to communicate with the car to establish that the plug is safely connected and determine what the maximum safe charging voltage and current are for that car. CHAdeMO does this by plugging directly into the car’s CANbus, which irritates me from a computer security standpoint, but it could theoretically be safe if implemented properly. (I wonder if Nissan does, or if they just have the charge port on the same bus as everything else in the car? That would be an interesting study to do if only I owned a Leaf.) J1772, and this plug which is an extension of J1772, uses a different protocol.

      It’s not insurmountable to build a quick-charge station with two different plugs, it’s just annoying and a bit more expensive.

  • avatar

    The article states: “While there is only one CHAdeMO station in the United States,…”

    In Houston, TX, there are 9 CHAdeMO stations with several more on the way, provided by the eVgo network.

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