A Country With CCS1, CCS2, NACS, and CHAdeMO?

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One of the big arguments for switching to Tesla’s NACS plug was standardization. Europe chose CCS2 for its EVs. China created its own GB/T standard plug. Whereas, the US only sort of chose CCS1, with only government spending on chargers tied to the standard. This led to a fragmented charging network.

US CCS1 started its journey to the underworld when Electrify America shat the bed. Early equipment from third-party providers seemed okay for the first couple of years, but as the number of EV drivers put more stress on the power equipment, stations failed under the load. This, along with failures from other providers, left Tesla having a much more reliable charging network (especially in EV-rich California).

Now, pretty much everybody is going to adopt Tesla’s plug in North America, and the existing CCS1 cars will mostly be able to access the growing NACS network via adapters.

But, sometimes I wonder what things would have been like if CCS1 charging had been reliable and NACS didn’t get the beachhead it did based on that. Plus, what if European manufacturers had offered CCS2 cars in the United States? Let’s also not forget that CHAdeMO cars had been sold for years here, too. What would life be like in a country with four different charging plugs?

Well, we don’t have to wonder what that would be like, because there’s a real place on the map where this has happened: Taiwan. Due to strong ties with the United States, Tesla’s vehicles first arrived with NACS ports (even if they weren’t called that). However, Taiwan was once owned by Japan, and since it’s next door, economic ties are also strong. So, cars like the Nissan LEAF with CHAdeMO ports were also a big thing. Other Korean, European, and American cars showed up with CCS1 ports as well.

So, today’s charging network in the country has four plugs. Looking around PlugShare and on internet forums in both Mandarin and English, it appears that things are working out okay.

Older Teslas still have NACS stalls at the Supercharger stations they can plug into, but newer CCS2 Teslas can do the same thing, both at Superchargers and at other charging stations run by other companies. At these other sites, there are usually both CCS1 and CCS2 stations. Some have both plugs at the same stall, while others have stalls dedicated to one type of plug only (with parking spaces marked accordingly).

CHAdeMO stations are the least common, but they’re still widely available in the form of CCS1/CHAdeMO stations like are often found in the United States. From what I could see, the reliability of these is lower than the CCS or NACS stations.

Why This Mostly Works Out

There are two things that keep this messy four-plug situation from becoming a madhouse.

First of all, the need for DC fast charging is pretty low. The longest drive you can go on is fewer than 300 miles (Keelung to Kenting National Park, going through the more populated western side of the island). Without big road trips to go on, people charging at home just won’t need to charge that often.

Even when people take road trips, heavier traffic and lower speed limits (~70 MPH max, but usually a lot lower) mean less energy consumption. So, many people will only need to charge once or twice even on the longest trips, which further reduces charger utilization.

The other thing is that EV adoption is getting held back by the lack of home charging. This isn’t a death blow to clean transport, though. Many if not most people don’t own a car at all, instead using scooters, bikes, or transit. Bike infrastructure is fantastic in most places, and transit is pretty decent, too. They even have an electric bullet train that goes through the most populated areas.

Image provided by Bikebank and Gogoro, showing a swap station in Korea.

The biggest transport pollution problem is scooters, but those, too, are changing. With a robust network of battery swap stations, electric scooters are widely useful despite the lack of home charging. The batteries can be swapped out at a convenience store or even carried up the stairs to an apartment if one wishes to do that.

Multi-modal transportation is also very common. Taking scooters or bikes to the train station and then riding the train is common. Some trains allow people to bring a bike along, but even when they don’t, it’s not a big deal because rental bikes are readily available at train stations. Buses are likewise readily available to drop people at train stations, and long-distance trains connect to local subways (MRT).

And, really, this mix of transport options is healthier overall than what we see in the United States, especially once more scooters go electric. Less car dependence might mean fewer EVs, but other even cleaner transport options are still winning the fight!

All of this adds up to low charger utilization multiplied by low ownership. So, the issues with clogged chargers like we’re seeing in California just aren’t a major issue in most cases.

What Does The Future Of This Look Like?

It seems doubtful that this four-plug solution will continue into the future. Like Tesla, most manufacturers are going CCS2 in Taiwan. With time and attrition, the number of CCS1, NACS, and CHAdeMO cars will dwindle. Also, as the number of EVs grows, it will likely become more popular to carry an adapter to double the number of useful stalls.

With these trends, it will get to the point where the few CCS1 cars get a CCS2-CCS1 adapter and call it a day. The remaining NACS cars there will also use an adapter, which is readily available. So, in the end, everyone will likely go CCS2.

But, this process could take decades, leading to charging providers wanting to keep additional plugs around for as long as they feel they can. Everyone wants to reach more customers, after all.

Featured Image: A screenshot from PlugShare showing a station in Taiwan with both CCS1 and CCS2 plugs.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1984 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba