EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 and B-Class Electric. Obviously a Kia Soul EV vs i3 vs B-Class comparison table is at the extreme end, but I am surprised how many folks wanted to hear that comparison. It isn’t just the luxury-cross shops that become possible however, comparisons normally considered to be “one-tier up” and “one-tier down” become more reasonable as well. For instance, the gasoline Soul isn’t a direct competitor to the Fiat 500 or the Ford Focus, but in EV form they are head to head.
If you’re just now reading this series, here’s what’s going on. Because reviews of electric vehicles (my own included) seem to be 1/4 review and 3/4 whining about EV related issues, I decided to divorce the review from the “EV experience” and post daily about driving a car with an 80-95 mile range. You can catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 before coming back to the saga. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Day three ended with my battery at 15% because I drove the orange creamsicle Fiat we have named “Zippy Zappy” over 175 miles. I don’t have a 240V charging cable at home so the car told me it would be 24 hours until the car was charged at 120V. Good thing day four was a Saturday.
Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? Sorry, you aren’t invited to this charging party. Have a Tesla and a LEAF? You’ll have to be satisfied with separate but equal charging facilities as the Tesla proprietary charging connector restricts access to Tesla shoppers only. Is this class warfare or do we parallel the computer industry where connectors come and go with the seasons?
Today, members of CHAdeMO congregated in the 7th floor auditorium of Tokyo’s Big Sight for CHAdeMO’s General Assembly 2012. CHAdeMO is a consortium of mostly Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. Also in the room was an invisible, but giant Godzilla. They called him “The Combo.” The combo is the product of (in Japanese views) an unholy alliance between U.S. and German OEMs which agreed on their own plug. The CHAdeMO and The Combo are utterly incompatible. Sparks are already flying.
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.
Autocorrect-adverse CHAdeMO is a consortium of Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. According to the fountain of knowledge, “CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve”, equivalent to “charge for moving”, and is a pun for O cha demo ikaga desuka in Japanese, meaning “How about some tea” (while charging) in English.” CHAdeMO was founded at the instigation of TEPCO. The power giant wanted a safe market for its quick-charge connector, it was hitherto known as “the CHAdeMO plug.” TEPCO is Tokyo’s disgraced power company, drop its name, and you will trigger a stream of invectives coming from otherwise composed Japanese. Which is probably what happened in a boardroom.