American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
american german automakers show off rival fast charging standard

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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  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on May 07, 2012

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

  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on May 07, 2012

    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.

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    • AKRonald AKRonald on May 07, 2012

      @John 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.

  • ClutchCarGo ClutchCarGo on May 07, 2012

    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.

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    • Aristurtle Aristurtle on May 08, 2012

      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.

  • Gms Gms on May 07, 2012

    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.