SAE International leaning to separate standard
No surprise here, but SAE International is looking to embrace a different electric vehicle (EV) fast charging standard than the CHAdeMO standard adopted by several Japanese manufacturers, according to Automotive News.
The first clue is that the engineer leading the group is a General Motors engineer. Not difficult to see which direction he’s going to be leaning. SAE International is looking to publish their standard by late July or early August 2012. As most U.S. companies are not yet in the EV marketplace, they can easily wait to see what comes as a result of this new standard.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) worked with Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Subaru to develop the CHAdeMO standard in 2010 prior to the delivery of EVs into the marketplace. Not a domestic big-three maker to be found in the coalition.
At issue primarily is the methodology. The CHAdeMO standard requires a second plug in addition to the J1772 charging plug that is needed for 120 volt or 240 volt charging. American makers wish to have one plug serve 120 volt and 240 volt needs, as well as the 480 volt fast charging requirements. The CHAdeMO standard requires a different physical connector for the 480 volt fast charger.
Other advantages to the SAE International standard will include not needing to specify an extra cost optional charge port if one wishes to have a DC fast charge connection capability. Currently this is the case on Nissan and Mitsubishi electric cars. We see the (American) world gravitating toward the SAE solution with the Japanese makers ultimately reluctantly embracing the new SAE standard likely to be adopted as well.
What does this mean for cars already equipped with the CHAdeMO standard? Support with the meager installed base of CHAdeMO chargers that currently exists, with some future chargers likely offering support to both protocols. Some clever engineer is probably already at work developing an adapter that CHAdeMO vehicle owners can use to plug into the future SAE International standard. The lack of an SAE standard is very likely the cause of the delayed rollout of DC fast charging in America. No maker wants to commit big time to a doomed standard, so many are likely waiting on the sidelines until later this year. In fact, some equipment makers have already committed to support the new SAE standard upon its release.
While Nissan and Mitsubishi may have the early lead in EV production, the vehicle sales numbers are still so small that an argument can be made for the consumer benefit of having just one connector to deal with. Those who chose to purchase an EV early in the cycle must realize that we are in the equivalent of the HD DVD vs Blu-ray wars – there can only be one winner. Time will tell, but our thinking is that the CHAdeMO plug on our LEAF will ultimately succumb to the fate of the HD DVD.