European Parliament Considers Legislation To Kill CHAdeMO Electric Car Chargers

By · August 07, 2013

CHAdeMO and SAE CCS fast charging connectors.

Could this be the beginning of the end for the CHAdeMO fast charging standard? On Tuesday, the CHAdeMO Association posted a notice on its website that the European Parliament is considering draft legislation that would terminate CHAdeMO at the end of 2018. This move is being considered despite the dominant role of the Japanese standard in fast charging around the world.

The draft legislation is part of a larger package of proposals that would be "a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure." A few rules regarding electric car charging are buried among proposals concerning other alternatives such as ethanol. One of them reads:

Direct Current (DC) fast recharging points for electric vehicles may be alternatively equipped with connectors of Type “CHAdeMO” for a transitional period ending on 31 December 2018.

Put another way, this proposal would terminate CHAdeMO in Europe beginning in 2019. This appears to be another round in the war over fast charging standards. There are at least three or four camps in the DC fast charging market (listed by deployment numbers): CHAdeMO, Tesla Supercharger, SAE DC Fast Charging System (a.k.a. Combo Charging System or CCS), and at least one fast charging system designed in China. The Renault ZOE and the latest electric smart both support an AC Level 3 fast charging system.

CHAdeMO is the incumbent standard, originally developed in the mid-2000s by TEPCO and the Japanese automakers. It is widely deployed with more than 2,700 CHAdeMO charging stations installed around the world: Japan (1,716); Europe (815); US (160); and 12 in other countries. It is primarily available for use in the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

For now, the vast majority of DC Quick Charging stations and compatible cars use the CHAdeMO standard. Meanwhile, the SAE combo cord system has approximately zero publicly deployed charging stations. The first electric car to use the SAE technology is the Chevy Spark EV, which went on sale in June (and has sold about 130 units so far).

The draft legislation recognizes that CHAdeMO is way ahead of the CCS in deployment numbers:

As the Combo technology is not fully ready at the moment and as there are more than 650 CHAdeMO chargers already installed in Europe, with more than 1,000 to be deployed by the end of 2013, it is important to set a time-limited transitional period where both systems can be deployed, with the final objective to find a single standard as indicated in the Commission proposal.

If the proposal passes, it would dampen further deployment of CHAdeMO-compatible cars and charging equipment, especially in Europe. The European parliament has a laudable goal of harmonizing charging standards. Yet, Quick Charge stations that accommodate multiple charging standards are starting to emerge. These units can can offer both CHAdeMO and CCS charging services at the same location. With this sort of charging station the market would be free to choose the winning system, without disrupting the deployment of EV equipment already being used, and on the rise.

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