Companies join forces to standardize charging infrastructure


March 18, 2010

A Mitsubishi electric vehicle being fast-charged

A Mitsubishi electric vehicle being fast-charged

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One of the criticisms often levied at the drive to get electrically-powered vehicles from the fringe into the mainstream is the current lack of a network of charging stations. Four car manufacturing giants have teamed up with a utility service provider to tackle this problem head on. The newly formed CHAdeMO Association is not only calling for a standard method for charging electric vehicles to be adopted but is also hoping to add some much-needed momentum to the global installation of fast charging solutions.

Mitsubishi, Toyota, Nissan, Fuji Heavy Industries and the Tokyo Electric Power Company have teamed up to help speed up global installation of fast charging technology and so provide an essential support infrastructure for the rollout of electric vehicles. A difficult enough task in itself but the CHAdeMO Association will also look at standardizing how electric vehicles are charged and so avoid any frustrating compatibility issues for users.

These objectives are not as clear cut as they may appear. Rolling out a charging infrastructure that can meet the real-world current and future requirements of everyday electric and hybrid vehicle users needs significant investment as well as political will and mass cooperation. Then there's the issue of getting members of a competitive industry to agree on a standard charging method or even a standard voltage.

Huge challenges ahead

In promoting "electric vehicles through the efforts of technical improvements of quick chargers, standardization activities of charging methods, and international extension of our knowledge related to quick-charger installations", the Association certainly has its work cut out for it. But without such an effort, the mass adoption of the electric vehicle might never happen.

The Association told Gizmag that "under CHAdeMO charging standards, the electric vehicle is the 'master' and the charger is the 'slave'. This means the charger only provides the voltage and current requested by the vehicle. Because of this, as battery technology evolves and even quicker charging becomes possible, older chargers will still be capable of handling charging."

The five founding companies now represent the Executive members and fully expect a further 158 business (made up of power companies, the makers of chargers, vehicle manufacturers and so on) and government interests to shortly get onboard as regular or supporting members. Mazda, Honda and Suzuki - the other major players in Japan's automotive industry - have already joined up.

As well as the name of the Association, CHAdeMO is also the trade name of a proposed charging solution which the Association hopes will be adopted throughout the whole of Japan at first, and then worldwide. The Association will first "work to expand quick-charging spots in Japan and quick-charger maintenance in Japan. Then work to standardize CHAdeMO charging methods around the world. In addition CHAdeMO will work to popularize other kinds of electric vehicle charging outside of quick-charging, as well as collect/spread information regarding charging locations."

Why CHAdeMO?

The logo is made up of the circuit symbol for a battery and a curving line representing movement, which also just happens to look like a smile. As for where the name originates, "CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of 'CHArge de MOve', equivalent to 'charge for moving', and is a pun for 'O cha demo ikaga desuka' in Japanese, meaning 'Let's have a tea while charging' in English."

Appropriate perhaps, given that current fast-charging technology involves a small wait for the battery to receive a rapid boost from zero to 80 percent and beyond. But as technology marches on, even that is likely to improve significantly.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Are they coming to Australia? W\'re in an extremely desperate chicken and egg situaton. we really need help to have the infrastructure installed nationally i our country!

Facebook User

That depends on what they mean by fast charging. There already is a standard where my EV can be charged in 5 minutes recently done by SAE. It puts out 70 amps at 240vac. In most EV\'s it would take less than 1 hrs to charge.

I guess they all want 15 minute charges for big EV\'s and for that serious power has to be transfered but that is old hat too. Just now the public will be doing it.

What they can\'t conceive as car makers is that in 5-10 yrs EV\'s will mostly only weigh 1.2klbs or less as my all composite, stronger than steel 2 seat sportwagon EV does already. Since it needs less than 8kw for it\'s 100 mile range the SAE medium power standard is fine for me, charging in 30 minutes.

But on only needs a 5-10kw generator for under 2klb EV\'s for unlimited range at over 100mpg. Such a generator would only weigh 50-100lbs. I use such for long trips.

Even with my Harley size MC trike EV with only 40 mile range with charging along the way at parking garages, 7-11\'s and libraries I\'ve easily set up, I can do about anything I want. Even haul big loads with my trailer on all my EV\'s.


Why don\'t the new electric cars have solar collector arrays ?

Old Skool

I do like that these big companies need to get off their proprietary connections, that can limit consumer willingness to purchase some of these expensive items like an EV car. The SAE J1772 plug is what is being decided as the standard. See the Wikipedia article on the plug.

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