Growing EV Industry Still Divided Over DC Charging

By · July 13, 2011

Mitsubishi i Fast Charging

The Mitsubishi i has an optional DC fast charging port that utilizes CHAdeMO technology.

The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) arena will soon get more crowded as automakers Mitsubishi and Toyota are in the final stages of preparing to compete head on with the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt in North America. While the new entrants agree that there is great enthusiasm for PEVs, their contrary views on fast charging of vehicles reinforces the split that is complicating investment in infrastructure.

Mitsubishi will begin delivering the 2012 Mitsubishi i battery electric vehicle (BEV) in November to dealerships on the West Coast as well as in Hawaii, according to David Patterson, the company’s chief engineer for mobile emissions. Sales of the vehicle in Japan (sold there as the i-MiEV) have been brisk, Patterson said, stating, “we can’t build enough of them.” The car was recently rated at 112 MPGe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is estimated to be able to travel 98 miles in all electric. Both numbers surpass that of the competing Nissan LEAF.

Like the LEAF, Mitsubishi’s BEV has an optional DC fast charging port that utilizes the CHAdeMO technology originally developed in Japan. Support for CHAdeMO is divided in the PEV industry, with many automakers waiting for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to determine a DC standard before offering fast charging capabilities. Patterson said he wishes there was a global agreement on a standard, but the company moved forward because the CHAdeMO was the best available option when the vehicle went into production.

Mitsubishi is planning a line of PEVs, including a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for model year 2014. Patterson said the company expects that 20% of vehicles produced by Mitsubishi would feature an electric drive in 2020.

Meanwhile, Toyota is gearing up for the release of two PEVs in 2012, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the RAV4 EV. The Prius PHEV will be available for sale in the first quarter of 2012. Toyota has been testing the vehicle with 160 consumers across the United States and has had positive feedback from consumers, according to Geri Yoza, the National Business Planning Manager of Advanced Vehicle Marketing. Yoza said consumers charged the vehicle more frequently than anticipated (about 10x per week), and yet the electricity cost was lower than they thought, at about $150 for the entire six-week trial.

The Toyota RAV4 EV will make its comeback after first being sold 15 years ago. The vehicle won’t be made available to consumers, Yoza said, instead they are focusing on “very strategic applications” such as fleets and car sharing programs. Despite being a BEV that could benefit from fast charging, the RAV4 EV will not include a CHAdeMO charging port. Yoza said Toyota will not offer fast charging on any vehicles until the SAE determines a standard.

CHAdeMO chargers are being installed in several cities in the United States thanks to stimulus funding provided by the Department of Energy. Private industry companies such as retail store operators and real estate companies are considering installing charging equipment. But, they will have to weigh the pros of being able to attract Nissan and Mitsubishi BEV owners today versus the consequences of the SAE and many other automakers adopting a different standard. Retrofits of DC charging equipment to add a second port are possible, but the added expense may dissuade some potential customers.

Mitsubishi’s Patterson will be participating in a panel discussion of DC fast charging at the Plug-In 2011 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, beginning on July 18.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

Why wait for another standard when CHAdeMO can do the job today? To be worth waiting for, the SAE standard would have to possess significant advantages. Otherwise, it's just an excuse for foot dragging.

· · 3 years ago

The reason to wait is because if (when) the standard comes out different from CHAdeMO, then many companies will be building to the new standard - leaving the CHAdeMO folks to twist in the wind. There MAY be a way to adapt one to the other, but even that is not assured.

When Blu-Ray was chosen as the current standard, would you want to be building DVD players that wouldn't play those discs?

· · 3 years ago

And I should add - it isn't the car mfg's who are dragging their feet. It is the SAE. We really can't expect the car makers to shoot themselves in the foot, can we? Plunk down a bunch of money only to be shot in the foot?

· · 3 years ago

My concern is that, because they are waiting for the SAE, automakers like Ford and Toyota are not planning to offer QC (quick charge) ports, even as options, on their upcoming EVs. Why can't they go with CHAdeMO to start with? That would be better than no QC option at all! As a consumer, I'd rather have CHAdeMO than no QC, even if there is a chance of CHAdeMO disappearing.

In any case, CHAdeMO could become the de facto standard. Perhaps Ford, Toyota, and others don't want this.

· JJ - Can (not verified) · 3 years ago

Reading the article I can understand the retailers being afraid of installing charging systems that may end up being the wrong ones.

What is the SAE doing?
Are they testing the various chargers or are the reports sitting on someone's desk who has retired?

I don't like Toyota not offering the RAV4 EV to consumers.
This has to be the most versatile vehicle out there.
People can use it to carry their tools to work, their bikes, golf clubs or baby carriages.
I hope someone else builds a useful vehicle like the RAV4.
The more versatile it is, the more people can buy it.

· · 3 years ago

This is the first time I've seen this - The vehicle (RAV4 EV) won’t be made available to consumers. Shows that Toyota isn't serious about EVs. They are going to make a small number of them and sell / lease to fleets.

"And I should add - it isn't the car mfg's who are dragging their feet. It is the SAE. "

SAE is made up of auto manufacturers. It isn't some external agency. The fast charge group is headed by GM, for eg.

· · 3 years ago

@darelldd "There MAY be a way to adapt one to the other, but even that is not assured."

Actually, the new "standard" will be compatible with CHADEMO. Nissan is in charge of the communication for the new standard for a reason.

· · 3 years ago

> SAE is made up of auto manufacturers. It isn't some external agency.

An excellent point. OK... time for me to back off my stance on that one! It isn't totally comprised of mfg reps, however. The few people I know who are involved with it are not tied to a car maker.

> Actually, the new "standard" will be compatible with CHADEMO. Nissan is in charge of the communication for the new standard for a reason.

Without having a standard, how do we know anything about it with such surety?

· · 3 years ago

> What is the SAE doing?
Are they testing the various chargers or are the reports sitting on someone's desk who has retired?

Ha. Neither! They're trying to decide who the standard will most benefit. This American Society is determining if they should allow the non-American car companies (those using CHAdeMO) to maintain their head-start advantage. There are some members of this site who will have us believe that the delay is purely on the engineering side - that it takes YEARS to come up with a robust design (as if we didn't already have one in CHAdeMO.)

· · 3 years ago

My big takeout of this article was WTF RAV4 is not going to be sold to customers? I always thought that I would be buying one of those after my (feature) leaf is getting older.

This really pisses me of.

· DarkStar (not verified) · 3 years ago

Since it took the SAE about 10 years to finalize the latest J1772 standard, I suspect a lot of us will be rocking CHAdeMO for 6 or 7 years before we see a J1772 DC standard. Given the preliminary proposals, I'm extremely concerned about the complicated nature of the J1772 DC standard and the fragility of the new connector they're proposing too.

abasile is right, CHAdeMO is here today and works extremely well. They finally have their connector UL listed and DC Quick Charge manufacturers are finally able to start getting the whole units UL listed.

I'm not saying that something better couldn't come along, but we have to support what's here now, otherwise we'll always be waiting for something better without having anything today.

· · 3 years ago

Perhaps I missed something in the larger discussion of EV charging port standards over the years, but I'll throw out this question . . .

If the J1772 port is already being adopted for Level 2 charging in North America and we're already seeing EVs so equipped on the the US streets . . . and . . . if the J1772 plug is capable of handling voltages and amperage rating associated with Level 3 charging (as this is my understanding) . . . why, then, is there a groundswell to adopt yet another plug pin-out (ie: CHAdeMO) for Level 3?

Or do the current EVs (Leaf, etc.) already have both J1772 and CHAdeMO plugs underneath their charging port panel already?

· · 3 years ago

@ Benjamin -

This is not about L3. This is about DC Quick Charging. That means the L2 onboard charger is bypassed. The L2 inlet and cables are NOT rated for the current used in DC Quick Charging.

· TimeHorse (not verified) · 3 years ago

Well, sir, I must say after promoting the 2012 RAV4 EV on the Affordable Electric Car NOW! site, I find it an EV1 poke in the eye that they're not gonna let us consumers buy it this time, especially when they were the only ones in the early 2000s series that allowed consumers buy the car for the 6 months it was available for the 2002 model year as they were crushing EV1s.

As for SAE and CHAdeMO, I have to say, I think there's probably a very good chance SAE will go de facto, but remember China and IIRC Europe likes VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2 and there's always the possibility that the standard committee desires a more international solution, especially if it's made up of multi-national auto makers. That's why we have the TEPCO connector from Japan in the CHAdeMO spec: because the industry already supports it elsewhere. But the under the IEC 62196 Mode 4 specification would also do the job quite nicely. As I say, CHAdeMO is pretty much becoming de facto, so I could see 1 of 3 possibilities:

1) CHAdeMO becomes the standard using the TEPCO connector (most likely)
2) IEC 62196 Type 2 (VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2) Mode 4 is implemented (much less likely as Europeans aren't using Type 2 Mode 4 yet; they're so far happy with Type 2 Mode 3).
3) A nationalistic trend is spurred within the SAE that decided to make the U.S. (and de facto Canada) totally unique to protect North American manufacturing (by giving domestic producers a head start) (least likely, but still a possibility).

· · 3 years ago

Oh, and yes, the Leaf and iMiev already have both inlets already (The leaf under one door, the iMiev in different areas of the vehicle).

· · 3 years ago

>> I'm not saying that something better couldn't come along, but we have to support what's here now, otherwise we'll always be waiting for something better without having anything today.

Sadly this is no longer about making a "better" solution from an engineering standpoint. It is all about who it will favor. And the least likely scenario as it stands now, is adopting CHAdeMO.

· 54mpg (not verified) · 3 years ago

"Sadly this is no longer about making a "better" solution from an engineering standpoint. It is all about who it will favor. And the least likely scenario as it stands now, is adopting CHAdeMO."

So the non-Nissan, non-Mitsu guys wants to push a sub-standard product on us, because it would benefit them.

Consumers might be able to give the SAE guys some feedback to prevent this from happening.

· · 3 years ago

I seriously don't think the non-CHAdeMO standard would be inferior. I mean this isn't rocket science here - two big conductors and some communication, all of it durable. Not that hard. But yes on the rest of it. Choosing CHAdeMO benefits Nissan and Mitsubishi. Choosing *anything* different from that benefits the folks who are behind the curve by slowing the front-runners.

· Right Steps (not verified) · 3 years ago

One thing that I found out is that Underwriters Lab has formally accepted Aeroviornments fast chargers. Thats a good step in the right direction for acceptance of a new standard fast charging in the U.S.

· · 3 years ago

@darelldd "Without having a standard, how do we know anything about it with such surety?"

The idea is to have the existing (or what would be existing by the time the new standard comes out) still work by swapping out (or adding) the new port. They asked Nissan to work on the communication to make sure this can be done.

"It is all about who it will favor. "

Yes, it sounds like one of those "conspiracy theories".

Fossil fuel car backers like GM, Ford & Toyota not wanting EVs to take off, which they might if their is a good QC infrastructure.

Sometime back there were reports of heated discussion about this in an open forum in the plug-in conference.

· · 3 years ago

I'm not convinced that the car makers are still trying to suppress EVs at this point... they just want to suppress the folks who took the huge financial risk to build them first.

· Lad (not verified) · 3 years ago

I'm all for DC charging; in fact, it's too bad the idea of locating the ac to dc charger in the car was implemented as a standard for level 1 and 2. Think about how much more space, weight and complication could be saved by by moving the rectifier to the EVSE, especially now that EV makers are talking about doubling the charge current from 16 to 32 amps, which will most likely increase the weight and space needs.
In the Leaf, the charger occupies the hump in back of the second row of seats and limits cargo space.
Note to Nissan: In the name of efficiency, think about removing the lead acid battery from the car and use the dc converter in it's place...less weight, more space; offer an option for external level 2 DC charging instead of AC with an optional portable DC trickle charger that runs on 120/240 AC. for times away from home. Establish a new de facto standard for external DC charging. I can see the current level 1 and 2 standard as a good start to get EVs off the ground; however, external DC EVSEs make more sense in the long run.

· · 3 years ago

@darelldd "I'm not convinced that the car makers are still trying to suppress EVs at this point... they just want to suppress the folks who took the huge financial risk to build them first."

It is not like North Korea wants to suppress free speech, just free speech that they don't like ;-)

· · 3 years ago

@Lad (not verified) · "Note to Nissan: In the name of efficiency, think about removing the lead acid battery from the car and use the dc converter in it's place...less weight, more space"

They do this for safety - to be able to disconnect & connect the main battery - and be able to work on the car with accessory power even when the traction battery is disconnected.

· · 3 years ago

Darell said . . .

"This is not about L3. This is about DC Quick Charging. That means the L2 onboard charger is bypassed. The L2 inlet and cables are NOT rated for the current used in DC Quick Charging. Oh, and yes, the Leaf and iMiev already have both inlets already (The leaf under one door, the iMiev in different areas of the vehicle)."

OK, Darell . . . I think I understand. Most of these charging scenarios (Level 1, 2 and 3) start out by using AC electricity and it converts to DC in the car, so it can be stored in the car's batteries.

The words "DC Quick Charging" conjure up an image of massive DC batteries outside the car, charging the smaller ones within the car. But that can't be right. My guess, if I'm understanding Lad's post (above) correctly, is that the AC to DC conversion occurs outside the car . . . and that the J1772 standard doesn't accommodate this. If so, what is the amperage and voltage specification of that DC coming into the car?

Next newbie question: Are these DC Quick Charge inlets on the Leaf and iMiev slated for the North American market built around CHAdeMO spec connectors?

· · 3 years ago

Benjamin -

You've got it now! L1 and L2 supply AC, and the car has the charger onboard that converts to DC for the batteries. A DC quick charger is a huge ugly thing that takes in high AC voltage and converts it to DC outside the car - then stuffs it basically directly into the batteries. And yes both Leaf and iMiev have CHAdeMO inlets.

Here is my page on the country's first Quick Charger:
http://evnut.com/vaca_dc_fast_charger.html

And you can see the CHAdeMO inlets on the iMievs there.

· · 3 years ago

> I'm all for DC charging; in fact, it's too bad the idea of locating the ac to dc charger in the car was implemented as a standard for level 1 and 2

Nooooo! It took us much effort to get where we are with onboard charging. I've lived with offboard charging for over ten years now. It SUCKS. The reason? I can ONLY charge at a proprietary charge point. With an onboard charger, I can plug into ANY outlet to charge, and be on my way. There are 2,000 chargers in CA, and what? 10 billion outlets? Ofboard charging for Quick Charging is another animal that will always require specialized equipment. But for the daily L1 and L2 stuff... the charger most definitely belongs on the car!

· Lad (not verified) · 3 years ago

@EVNow:
That is a maintenance issue that can be solved easily enough by connecting a DC source when needed to keep the 12v DC hot while performing checks.
@Nead:
The level 3 quick charge is an SAE standard and some follow the standard by rectifing 3 phase AC to DC in the EVSE charge point; the claim is that a Leaf can be 80% charged in 25 minutes using level 3.
since the Leaf battery is a 24kwatt unit an 80% charge would be .8x24kw=about 19.2kw.
The voltage of the battery runs about 308volts so the current required would be somewhere over 62 amps of dc for 25 minutes if it charges at about the battery voltage...a large cable and a high voltage requiring careful handling!

Currently the level 3 standard is under review as the SAE is debating adding two pins to the current J1772 plug for DC charging. and losing the separate fast charge plug.

· Lad (not verified) · 3 years ago

%darelidd:
I have this covered by offering a portable DC charger that uses 120/240 AC as input; it should be no larger than the current Nissan brick and only needs a mod to include a rectifier.

I can see the Leaf as a cult car one of these years and as such Nismo mods will be offered a bunch.

Right now Nissan is thinking of a racing series using a relocated Leaf mid-body leaf motor, RWD, adjustable suspention, an all-carbon fiber body and racing tires; you can bet it doesn't include the PB battery and on-board charger.

Your point is a good one about charging points; however, this is changing and I have little doubt EV manufacturers will follow one of the basic rules of efficiency..."Add Lightness."

· · 3 years ago

> The level 3 quick charge is an SAE standard

Neither Level 3, nor Quick Charge have an SAE standard. And they are not the same thing.

· Lad (not verified) · 3 years ago

.Yes you are right; the SAE has not finished their work on level 3; only a de facto standard as defined in Japan and Europe are currently being implemented. The SAE is working to define a level 3 dc standard, called "fast charge" and also a level 3 AC standard.

· · 3 years ago

@Lad,
AC Propulsion and the early Tesla's use the motor's windings as part of the rectifier circuitry for charging, thus "adding lightness" (Thank's Colin Chapman :-). There are ways to put a charger onboard without adding significant weight.
I'll second Darell's assertion that we went down the onboard -vs- offboard charging circuitry back in the '90's and, for level 1 and level 2 charging, the benefits of onboard circuitry far outweigh that of offboard for the consumer.
I believe that offboard is the only thing that really makes sense for level 3 and DC fast charging however, because of the enormity of the high power magnetic components (transformers and inductors) required.

· · 3 years ago

I never realized what on-board / off-board AC-DC meant, you wouldn't be able to trickle charge easily...

Would it work to have in-car AC-DC for 120 volt trickle and station AC-DC for all other charging? You need a station anyway for everything else - I'm thinking the only negative is two charge ports.

· · 3 years ago

Darell & Lad . . . Thanks for straightening this out for me. I certainly learned something new about DC Quick Charging.

Sounds like the logical way to go is to hope that the J1772 interface gets upgraded with extra data pins, allowing backward compatibility (let's hope) to Level 2 on current EVs and, eventually, become the de facto North American standard for both Level 3 AC and DC Quick Charge. The fewer the number of charging port configurations, the better . . . and better to figure out this stuff while you've thousands of EVs on the road, as opposed to millions of them.

· · 3 years ago

> Would it work to have in-car AC-DC for 120 volt trickle and station AC-DC for all other charging?

I wouldn't consider that ideal. As I've had the portable L1 EVSE that comes with the LEAF modified to support L2, I can charge our LEAF just about anywhere that 240 V is available. I also have a "Quick 220" unit that allows us to derive 240 V from two 120 V circuits. The onboard charger enables that kind of flexibility.

· · 3 years ago

Chademo is not powerful enough for Tesla's upcoming model S with a 300 mile range. It would take hours for a full charge. I suspect SAE's final standard will also have deal with electric trucks and their HUGE batteries.

SAE is adding pins to the existing J1772 standard connector and a safer grounding method for DC fast charge. AC level 3 has been dropped from J1772, I believe permanently. There WAS an AC level 3 standard in J1772 but it has been downgraded to historical status.

And SAE did not take 10 years to finalize J1772, just about the ONLY other change in the last revision was the physical CONNECTOR. But the signalling, electrical interconnect, safety sections etc. are essentially unchanged. The Tesla roadster, European Think, and the Mini E used the J1772 connection but with proprietary connectors. There was "guidance" about the connector in the older version of J1772 but no one followed it. Hard to get manufacturers to tool up for a low volume connector when the tooling costs are in the millions of dollars for a spec that requires 10,000 cycles in harsh conditions.

This is capitalism, drop the sophomoric idealism.

· · 3 years ago

> Chademo is not powerful enough for Tesla's upcoming model S with a 300 mile range. It would take hours for a full charge. I suspect SAE's final standard will also have deal with electric trucks and their HUGE batteries.

Thank you for pointing that out. The only thing is, if today's UL listed CHAdeMO chargers are expensive, how much more will a QC unit capable of fast-charging a truck or Tesla Model S cost? At least for the next few years, it's hard for me to envision the latter being rolled out in significant numbers.

Perhaps we'll end up with two different QC standards coexisting for several years or more. Maybe that won't be so bad, particularly if the communication protocol is the same.

· · 3 years ago

@jamcl3 ·"Chademo is not powerful enough for Tesla's upcoming model S with a 300 mile range. It would take hours for a full charge. I suspect SAE's final standard will also have deal with electric trucks and their HUGE batteries."

Eventually, we will have multiple levels of DC charging, just as we have for AC charging (we know about 1 & 2, 3 will come at some point). Chademo is basically L1 of DC changing.

If you made Tesla S's battery using Toshiba's SCiB, which can be recharged in 5 minutes, you would need nearly 1MW of power ;-)

· · 3 years ago

>> This is capitalism, drop the sophomoric idealism.

You'll have to point out the "sophomoric idealism" to those of us how aren't as well versed in sophomoricness.

· JJ - Can (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hey no swearing on this message board! :-)

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