We all want to see the EV revolution succeed, and we know there are barriers that need to be overcome for that to happen. The price of electric cars has to drop and range has to increase. We need more chargers, the president says, but what kind of chargers? Currently, in America, there are three leading charging standards — Tesla, CHAdeMO, and CCS — and each one uses its own connector. You can’t plug a CHAdeMO charging cable into a CCS port and you can’t plug a Tesla Supercharger directly into your Nissan LEAF.
Oh, sure, there are adapters you can use, but they often limit charging performance, and besides, who wants to carry a box full of adapters around? Then there is the problem of needing to have accounts with various charging companies in order to use their equipment.
There are historical reasons why things turned out this way, but they are irrelevant. It is stupid not to have a common standard. We don’t need adapters to use different gas pumps. The nozzle on a pump at Cumberland Farms is the same as the nozzle on a pump at an Exxon station. You swipe the credit card of your choice at either one, fill up, and go on your merry way. The fact that there are so many variations to the EV charging experience confuses people and makes them anxious.
Confused, anxious people are usually disinclined to embrace new technology. If we really want to turbocharge the EV revolution, we need to simplify the charging process. Pull in, plug in, charge up, and go. No fuss, no muss. Keep it simple, stupid!
Electrify America must be reading my mind, because it has just announced that it is phasing out CHAdeMO charging starting early next year. Heck, even the Nissan Ariya will use CCS charging technology when it goes on sale in America, so what is the point of adding CHAdeMO connectors to new EV charging equipment? Today, only about 5% of all the electricity dispensed by Electrify America goes through CHAdeMO connectors.
An Electrify America investment plan from June says it will no longer install CHAdeMO connectors on its EV chargers beginning in January 2022. “Electrify America will focus its Cycle 3 investment on the future of electrification and deploy CCS as the non-proprietary standard at our stations. This action helps to reinforce the automotive manufacturers’ convergence on a single standard, reduces customer confusion, reduces capital and operating costs, and ultimately is expected to lead to increased EV adoption.” Those are all good things if we want to move the EV revolution forward.
One of the things that must have led to EA’s decision is that Tesla drivers can now use the Setec Power adapter to connect to a CCS charging cable. That adapter limits charging to 50 kW, but it may be part of the reason usage of the CHAdeMO chargers by EA customers has declined recently.
If you own a vehicle that uses CHAdeMO — usually a Nissan, but there are others — you will still have access to the more than 800 CHAdeMO chargers throughout the Electrify America network. Blink, EVGo, and ChargePoint also still support CHAdeMO charging.
If you live in California, things are different, however. CARB is the administrator for the Electrify America program in the Golden State, whereas the EPA is the administrator for the rest of the country. Even though CHAdeMO accounts for only 7% of network utilization in California, the current plan is that the company will keep installing CHAdeMO charging equipment within California’s borders while keeping an eye on industry trends and reserving the right to change its mind.
Different standards cause confusion and cost money. The spacing between railroad tracks in Russia and China is different, which causes expensive delays when trains cross the border. The issue is not whether one system is better than the other, it is that the lack of a common standard creates havoc. In the world of electric cars, it gives people one more excuse not to drive an electric car. Just pick a network and go with it. It’s better for everyone and cheaper for manufacturers in the long run.
Not only that, CHAdeMO is just a clumsy word that hardly trips off the tongue when you say it. From a pure marketing perspective, it’s an impediment to making people comfortable with owning an electric. It’s time to say goodbye and good riddance to CHAdeMO. Then if we could just convince Elon Musk to adopt the CCS standard, there could be one specification for North America, which would give a huge boost to the EV revolution.
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