Electric Car Charging Standards Split

By · October 14, 2011

To no one’s surprise, American automakers Ford and GM have agreed on a single EV charging port connector standard that has been in development by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for several years. What’s a bit of a surprise in this week’s announcement is that the companies were joined by German automakers BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, while Chrysler is conspicuous in its absence.

The single connector will support fast DC charging as well as be backward compatible with the J1772 AC charger that is standard on many plug-in electric vehicles today. This approach is at odds with the “CHAdeMO” standard for DC charging that was originally designed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company and has been adopted by Mitsubishi, Nissan, and others. (The name is short for “Charge de Move.”)

The split was all but inevitable as SAE took its stance long ago when the organization first started working on a standard that it wanted a different architecture for the communications interface (covered here, here, and here).

Chrysler declined to endorse the agreement even though one of its key EV engineers (who recently joined the company from Ford) has worked on the SAE standard since its inception. Chrysler doesn’t have a commercial plug-in EV (PEV) in the works, and neither the company nor parent Fiat is a member of the CHAdeMO association.

European car companies have been divided on standards for both AC and DC charging, and it is not clear if other OEMs in the region will sign on. But at least VW and BMW can make cars with one connector for both the continent and North America.

This agreement makes it all but official that DC charging stations currently being installed in the United States (thanks to grants from the DOE) will only be able to serve a portion of the PEV market (namely vehicles from Nissan and Mitsubishi). Charging stations with more than one port could be upgraded to offer both cable types once the SAE standard is released, but who’s going to pay for the retrofits? Having two fast charging standards could slow the spread of fast charging. Pike Research expects shipments of DC charging units to grow from less than 3,000 this year globally to more than 115,000 by 2017.

DC Charging Equipment Forecast />

The group also endorsed the HomePlug GP protocol for communications between vehicles and smart grid equipment. Cisco, GE, and utilities Duke Energy and PG&E are contributing to that standard, which will enable PEVs to communicate with a range of home energy devices.

Comments

· GotmyLEAF (not verified) · 3 years ago

At first blush, this seems like a great path forward. Then it just seems like a strategy to slow EV sales by pushing a "don't buy until a standard is established" marketing plan. Nissan and Mitsubishi have a huge head-start and already have cars on the market, the group that has agreed on a single connector are all late to the market and still have nothing but concept BEV's. These are the comorpanies that are still making promises that they may or may not keep when it comes to bringing a production BEV to market.

If you can't compete, sabotage.

· · 3 years ago

"If you can't compete, sabotage.
Such is one of the biggest dilemmas with any standards process. You're trying to get competitors to agree upon something. Their first goal is to kill everyone else in the standards process. Achieving a good, workable standard is only secondary.

From my perspective, charging is easy. Anyone who is waiting is just being short-sighted. The most expensive parts of a public charger are the real-estate costs and the wiring. Neither of these depend on the charger. One can easily install a charger today, then add to it or swap it later if a different standard arises that one wants to support. Adapters can generally be made to allow incompatible EVs to charge.

· · 3 years ago

What is the difference in these standards? Is there an advantage to one over the other from a practical standpoint? Have all of the charging stations ordered by the DOE been built or delivered? Is it possible that the some orders can be changed or that charging station equipment can be retro-fitted before it leaves the factory?

· · 3 years ago

What is the difference in these standards?
They're functionally very similar. They use different electronic protocols (languages)though. They all allow the car to tell the charger how much current it can handle, then the charger provides that current. They generally have a quick stop feature where the car can tell the charger to quickly cut the voltage.
The connectors are different too. The SAE standard combines DC fast charging with slow J-1772 into the same (kluge) connector. With Chademo, you need a separate connector for DC fast charging.

Is there an advantage to one over the other from a practical standpoint?
The automaker won't need to devote as much body real estate or put as big a cover on the SAE or Tesla ones since they only have 1 connector.

Have all of the charging stations ordered by the DOE been built or delivered?
No, in fact, very few have. I saw a bunch of them being built at the factory last week.

Is it possible that the some orders can be changed or that charging station equipment can be retro-fitted before it leaves the factory?
Not likely. They are different designs entirely.

· · 3 years ago

Thanks for the answers. From what I know about car design, especially now, real estate is a big deal, something so spar over for different designers working on a vehicle. That alone makes this standard seem to make sense.

· · 3 years ago

I agree that real estate is a big issue.
The SAE, though, really isn't much of a saver. It essentially wraps a huge DC port around a J-1772 port. Single connector, yet a huge kluge.
Of course Tesla has the most awesome solution in this regard: It is smaller than J1772 yet offers both AC slow charging (Level 1 or 2) and DC Fast Charging. Having the advantage that they are also producing vehicles, unlike any SAE proponent, it makes this whole thing an interesting conundrum.
As far as future adapters goes:
It is easy to make a simple Tesla to J-1772 adapter.
An adapter between Tesla, SAE, or CHAdeMO will require a bit of active hardware but the hardware won't have to be too complex.
I suspect that adapters will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

· · 3 years ago

Still, one receptor requires one door and one housing and the other requires two. every bit counts in a car. I would imagine that Tesla's protocol is proprietary. I wonder if the chance was presented to them to license the design? I would imagine that their design is not only more user friendly and easier to design around but also cheaper to implement. It seems a shame to limit it to one manufacturer.

· · 3 years ago

@TrasKY
"I wonder if the chance was presented to them to license the design? I would imagine that their design is not only more user friendly and easier to design around but also cheaper to implement."

Based on what?

It seems a shame to limit it to one manufacturer."

???

· · 3 years ago

@TrasKY,
Nissan has shown the one door can contain both a CHAdeMO and J-1772 inlets but it is a large door.
I'm hoping (and fairly certain) that Tesla would open up their charging standard, if anyone asks them to.
It would greatly reduce the number of charging stations that they will have to roll out themselves to keep their customers happy.
So far though, all the major OEMs (except Toyota and Daimler) have totally ignored Tesla.
Tesla has shown that they are not afraid to take the lead and go alone so its hard to tell what the future will bring. With a 300 mile range, only a few dozen DC fast chargers would be needed to span the whole country by Tesla.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

ive been using electric car for about 12months now and i dont encountering this since then. but i was about to look for cranks, rods, pistons & oil for my car.

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