TOKYO -- Japanese automakers that support the industry-leading CHAdeMO charging standard want to broaden its appeal by sending electricity from cars back to the grid.
The campaign would make cars an energy source for buildings, external batteries and appliances.
The strategy was unveiled today at the annual meeting of companies backing CHAdeMO, a high-speed direct-current charging protocol for EVs and plug-in vehicles.
“I think that’s how CHAdeMO can expand,” said Toshiyuki Shiga, CHAdeMO Association president and vice president of Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric vehicle. “Now we are talking about vehicle to home. It is not only a charging system, but CHAdeMO can also be a discharging system.”
The coalition of automakers, suppliers and power companies began in 2010 and includes Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries, Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Tokyo Electric Power Co. developed the protocol with Fuji Heavy several years earlier, and the charging protocol has become the standard inside Japan.
Today, CHAdeMO is the most widespread charging technology, with some 8,760 chargers worldwide and 5,400 in Japan. That compares with just 1,400 CHAdeMo units globally in 2012.
At the end of May, there were 1,238 CHAdeMo chargers in North America.
But global automakers are divided into two rival camps about the best way to top off batteries with lightning speed. In one corner are the Japanese, backing their home-grown system.
In the other: the Americans and Germans. They are pitching a standard called the Combined Charging System, also known as CCS or Combo. CHAdeMO EVs can’t use Combo, and vice versa
Meanwhile, Tesla cars use another method dubbed Supercharger that is unique to the automaker.
Making CHAdeMO more compatible with vehicle-to-infrastructure charging may give it a leg up.
As part of the campaign, CHAdeMO is partnering with a group called EVPOSSA [Electric Vehicle Power Supply System Association]. EVPOSSA promotes the use of vehicle-to-infrastructure charging equipment and includes companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi and Unisys.
Global leader, for now
CHAdeMO has been in use since 2010, and today it is the global leader.
The first Combo-compatible vehicles hit markets just last year. And from 2010 to 2014, only 7 percent of the world’s EVs used the standard, compared with 65 percent for CHAdeMO, according to IHS Automotive. Japan has more than 2,800 DC fast-charging stations using CHAdeMO, and the country accounts for roughly a half percent of the global total of all CHAdeMO stations, it said.
But IHS expects CHAdeMO’s early lead to dwindle.
“This will change over the short to mid-term, as more vehicles with the CCS standard enter the vehicle parc [vehicles on the road],” IHS said in a recent report. “There will gradually be a more even split.”
Part of the reason is Combo has powerful backers: Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen. Both the SAE in the United States and ACEA, the European association of vehicle manufacturers, have chosen Combo as their fast-charging method.
Japan has been a growth market for EV charging stations, with the number of EV chargers in the country surpassing the number of gasoline stations, IHS Senior Analyst Ben Scott wrote.
But Europe should take the lead in adding new stations.
“We recognize the potential of Germany and France,” Scott said. “They are the ‘sleeping giants’ of e-mobility, but their EV charging station networks are currently underdeveloped with respect to the size of those countries.”
The Combo and CHAdeMO connectors are different. So are their protocols -- the language through which the electrical systems of the car and charger communicate. That means you can't just use a plug adapter to switch from one system to another.
Both standards are getting a boost in Europe, where multi-standard chargers are increasingly being adopted and installed. They have two plugs, allowing recharge of either type.
Of the 1,838 CHAdeMO chargers in Europe, about half are multi-standard.
CHAdeMO gets its name from "charge de move" or "charge for moving."
It is also a pun on "o cha demo," the Japanese phrase for grabbing a cup of tea, as drivers might do while waiting for their EVs to charge.
The global EV charger market is forecast to grow from more than 1 million units in 2014 to more than 12.7 million units in 2020, according to a new EV charging infrastructure report from IHS.
That includes DC chargers such as those compatible with CHAdeMO and Combo and AC chargers. Use of the slower AC units at home garages are expected to expand rapidly.
An AC station feeds an onboard charger on the vehicle and typically provides 5 to 15 miles of electric range per 30-minute charge, IHS said. A DC station supplies current directly to the vehicle battery and typically gives about 80 miles of electric range per 30-minute charge, it said.
“AC charging stations are the dominant type of plug-in vehicle charging type, and we expect AC charging to retain its position long-term,” Scott said. “AC charging is also an inexpensive and convenient way of charging requiring much smaller upgrades of the electricity grid, whereas DC charging is best suited for ‘en route’ charging.”