One can think about conspiracy theories that maybe that's the way they wanted it be.

The Nissan Leaf is the most mainstream electric vehicle in the U.S., and it has a CHAdeMO DC fast-charge option. Ecotality's Blink network offers CHAdeMO chargers. Ecotality is the managing organization behind The EV Project, which recently announced it had collected information on 24 million electric vehicle miles. So, if any group would have an opinion about the potential challenge to CHAdeMO from the SAE combo charger announcement, Ecotality would be that group.

To find out, we spoke with Donald Karner, Ecotality's chief innovation officer, who said what others in the charging business told us during the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26): the cars – and EV buyers – will dictate which standard wins.

"We're in the infrastructure business," Karner said. "We supply infrastructure to fuel advanced vehicles. We've done hydrogen, we do level 2 AC. On the DC side, if and when vehicles come to market that utilize the combo connector in sufficient numbers that justifies us making the investment in installing those connectors and developing chargers that will operate under that protocol, of course we will."

Can we accommodate two different standards? Yeah, we can do that. Is it going to cost more? Absolutely.

As you can see in the picture above, the Blink fast charger is dual port. "We did that a year and a half ago," Karner said. "The guys back here [he indicates a competitor's booth] are now saying, 'oh, what everybody should do is dual port so that you can do CHAdeMo on one side and combo on the other side. Well, that's exactly why we did that. A year and a half ago, we went to the SAE and said, 'look, you guys have a problem. You are two years behind schedule. DC fast chargers are coming, the Nissan Leaf with CHAdeMo is coming. We're sitting here as an EVSP [electric vehicle service provider] and we have to build a charger to service this. There's no U.S. standard. What are you guys going to do?' And the answer from the SAE committee was, 'Not our problem. We don't care. We're going to focus on J1772 AC and that's all we can do at one time.'

Now, there are clearly some competitive issues in there (between the automakers) so here the auto industry has shot itself in the foot again. Can we accommodate two different standards? Yeah, we can do that. Is it going to cost more than having one standard? Absolutely it's going to cost more. Fast charging is already very expensive and the auto companies, because they couldn't get along and are going to squabble, just like they did last time with inductive and conductive, are going to shoot themselves in the foot."

I worry that we're going to have garages burn down with Level 1 [chargers].

Karner said that, inside a DC fast charging station, energy from the grid is converted to DC power and there is a control piece that talks to the vehicle and then sends energy through the specific connector to he vehicle. When comparing CHAdeMO with the SAE combo charger, obviously the plug is different, but Karner said that the protocol is different, too, and, "it appears that you will need a different power section as well. A unit that meets the CHAdeMO specs would not meet the SAE specs. Of course, this is all speculation since, as of right now there is no North American standard. There is only the proposal for a standard." Still, Karner said, "One can think about conspiracy theories that maybe that's the way they wanted it be, or one could say that it's too bad that that's the way it happened. If it is, it is, but it will drive even more cost because, regardless of what the guys back here do, there will be tens of thousands of vehicles in the marketplace with CHAdeMO connectors on them before the first Combo connector vehicle ever hits the street, which right now is going to be the Chevy Spark, sometime in 2013."

Karner said that we can't yet know the difference in cost between the combo charging station and the CHAdeMO station, but guessed that it shouldn't be too dramatic. The real cost will come from the non-recurring engineering costs and things like getting UL certification. "It's unfortunate that the industry could not, as it did this time with the Level 2 AC connector, come to an agreement on a single DC-level connector," he said. "I don't think there's anybody that would argue that the industry would not be better off with one DC standard. Of course, the SAE guys are going to argue that it should be theirs and the CHAdeMO guys will argue that it should theirs. That's not our argument. We're just sitting here saying it would be whole lot easier to have one that serves everybody instead of two."

The chargers out in the field today are, of course, mostly being used by early adopters. Thus, Karner said, most of them are charging at home because they bought their vehicles before there was much of a public infrastructure available. From what he sees, most Leaf drivers charge with Level 2. With Chevrolet Volt drivers, a larger percentage charge using only standard 110-volt outlets, and he expects to see the same thing with the Toyota Prius Plug-In. Karner said this reality could pose a problem.

We need people to feel comfortable that, 'gee, if I need to go 120 miles in a day, I can do that.'

Karner is not a fan of regular Level 1 charging for a few reasons. First, the grid is better served by timed, quicker Level 2 charges rather than trickle charges. Second, most of the 110-volt charging cables are rated at 12 amps, and drawing 12 amps through a potentially old socket can heat up and corrode said socket. "We're seeing, at a fairly alarming rate, that plugs melt," he said. "Everyone is saying, 'well, there's something wrong with the plug. Well, it's really the receptacle because that receptacle can't transmit that level of power continuously. It just wasn't made to do that. The receptacle itself has better heat transfer than the plug does, so the plug tends to get hot and melt. So, I worry that we're going to have garages burn down and that type of thing with Level 1."

The early adopters are very home-centric. Blink is working on education programs to teach them where public chargers are, so they get used to fueling their vehicles while shopping or out for entertainment. "As an industry, it is really important to us to have more than cars that only fulfill a mission that tethers them to home," Karner said. "We need people to feel comfortable that, 'gee, if I need to go 120 miles in a day, I can do that.' That way, it doesn't have to be a second or third car, it can be a first car. It's developing that familiarity and that habit.

"We also want to get people who don't have a place to charge overnight. The 'emerging mainstream' is where we're at now. We're going to see those people in those multi-unit dwellings get EVs, and it's going to be a lot easier for them to go to a DC fast charge station. There will be some work charging, but some employers don't even provide parking for their employees, so we can't rely on them. But the public infrastructure will encourage people in the emerging mainstream to seriously consider a plug-in vehicle."


Show full PR text
EV Project Marks Milestone With Over 24 Million Miles Of EV Operation

SAN FRANCISCO – Wednesday, April 25, 2012 – ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies, announced today achievement of a milestone in the development of plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure, with the collection of over 24 million miles of electric vehicle operating data since the inception of The EV Project.

"The EV Project is paving the way for the future of plug-in electric vehicles in America", stated Don Karner, Chief Innovation Officer of ECOtality, Inc. and Project Manager for The EV Project. "With over 24 million miles of data collected so far, we are gathering extremely valuable insight into how to effectively and efficiently create an EV infrastructure that will help make America less dependent on foreign oil. This is just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing our work on delivering these rich data points."

The EV Project is currently gathering data at a rate of one-hundred thousand miles per day. The 24 million miles recorded so far is the equivalent to 963 trips around the world. The electric fuel equivalent utilized by EV Project participants represents almost 1 million gallons of gasoline conserved by the use of electric vehicles. Finally, cars in The EV Project have eliminated approximately 8,700 metric tons of CO2 emissions from our air. This information comes from an analysis of approximately 675,000 charge events in key EV Project markets to date.

As part of The EV Project, ECOtality will be releasing over 40 White Papers on various topics ranging from a study of the needs of commercial charging to regulatory issues. These white papers will be available to the public at www.theevproject.com.

ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project, a research initiative to help build America's future EV infrastructure. The project will study EV infrastructure to support the deployment of EVs in key markets, by collecting and analyzing data from vehicles and chargers. The project is a public-private partnership, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant and made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). For more information about The EV Project, please visit www.theevproject.com.

About ECOtality, Inc.
ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies. Through innovation, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, ECOtality accelerates the market applicability of advanced electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels. For more information about ECOtality, Inc., please visit www.ecotality.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      solas
      • 2 Years Ago
      "EVS: After 24 million EV miles, Ecotality and Blink are ready for both CHAdeMO and SAE" ... um, Blink/Eco is not even ready with CHAdeMO yet. 1.5 years behind schedule, bay area DC fast chargers from Blink are now online ... and then off again. And then on. And then off again. And then on again. And then 1 down for repair. But: there's a big-ass TV screen above, and it play's soothing music while you wait, so -- no worries!!! I am sure there will be growing pains -- e.g. I will wager neither plug in the field will reach its original plug/unplug count/life rating.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @solas
        DC fast chargers from Blink are now online ... and then off again. And then on. And then off again. And then on again. So THAT is why they call them "Blink" chargers. ;-)
      • 2 Years Ago
      I drive over 100 miles a day in my Leaf all the time with no stops at home. There are Blink chargers every five miles in every direction in Phoenix. Works great.. just charge up, walk a block to eat/run errands. People who are savvy with the whole system have no problems living a normal life with an EV. 15,000 miles in the first five months for me.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        15,000 miles in 5 months! Holy crap. Do you do anything but drive? What is all that driving for? You must have paid a fortune for gas before you got the Leaf.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have no idea why the SAE decided to come up with its own DC system. Is it because they wanted to throw a wrench into Nissan's head-start in EVs? Maybe. Is it because they don't want to pay license fees to TEPCO? Maybe. Is it because they wanted a single unified charger interface for AC & DC? maybe. Is it because 'Not-invented-here' syndrome? maybe. Frankly, I don't care. All I want is a single standard. I don't care all that much which one it is (except that I'd like it to not cost any license fees). Since the SAE has the most backers, that seems to be the way to go. I know it must be extremely annoying to Nissan. But if they Nissan really wanted to get back at those other companies, they should just immediately adopt it. They could have SAE charger based Leafs out there within a couple months whereas everyone else will still have NOTHING. Having two standards out there with Nissan in the minority camp hurts Nissan more than it hurts the others. FUD hurts the first-mover. That's why Microsoft famously announced products where they had nothing . . . it created FUD thus hurting small nimble first-mover competitors giving others a chance to catch up. Nissan should just eliminate the FUD by adopting the SAE.
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        SAE had plans for a DC standard for a while, it just took a while for them to get around to it (they were busy finalizing the AC standard). CHAdeMO simply reached market before they were able to decide on one (about 1-2 years earlier). So it's not like SAE saw CHAdeMO and deliberately decided to throw a wrench into the cars that already had it, nor is it "not-invented-here" syndrome (after all, they accepted the Yazaki plug for the J1772 standard). I don't think it's very likely for Nissan to abandon CHAdeMO at this point. They have too much invested into it and they have a decent chance of making it "de facto" esp. in Europe. I think eventually they'll be forced to move away from it as their cars require more power than just 50kW.
          lne937s
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Escept that Tepco deployed their first DC quick charger in 2006. They had a preliminary DC charger network up in 2008. More significant deployment happened recently once cars were available (there are currently no car that can use SAE DC charginfg). This has been in development for some time. SAE has yet to deploy their first DC charger... so they are ~6 years behind. http://www.iea.org/work/2008/transport/TEPCO.pdf
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        They would just change the SAE standard, as it is not finalised. The whole thing is a classic blocking ploy to decrease Nissan and Mitsubishi's lead.
      Smith Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not worried about how long it will take to settle on one standard because it will certainly be worked out before any chargers are installed in my part of the country. I live in a red state where EVs are considered evil because Rush Limbaugh says so.
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        @ Smith Jim " Red State " !!!, Where is good ol' Edgar J Hoover when y'need him !
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Late to the hybrid and EV markets, the American auto makers' attitude is if you can't beat them, stall them. SAE is all about GM, Ford and the small play Chrysler. The Japanese auto makers want CHAdeMo. The American consumer is held hostage just like Betamax vs VHS or MemoryStick vs Sandisk. And it's all about money.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Scambuster
        Except that the tiny companies Daimler, BMW and VW/Audi also support SAE. It's not just domestic.
          skierpage
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          Note the SAE combo-coupler plug thta the Germans support is *different* from the SAE USA plug. They took the Mennekes high-power three-phase 7-pin AC design (that has yet to appear on any production car to my knowledge) and slapped the two fat DC charging pins underneath. See http://www.ishavsveien.no/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Current_status_of_the_Combined_Charging_System_v1.2.pdf A worldwide standard with two different plugs!
      Joshua Santos
      • 2 Years Ago
      Don't forget Tesla has their own standard as well...
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joshua Santos
        I think Tesla will eventually pick SAE. For many reasons. For now, adapters should be available.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only reason early adopters are "home centric" is because the Blink network has been so slow and unreliable. They finally set up a network of Fast Chargers in Tennessee, but their map of available locations does not show a single one online today. How can we plan to take our EV anywhere if we can't rely on the network of charging stations they were paid to install?
      Pip
      • 2 Years Ago
      To me, the biggest hurdle in public charging: 'gee, if I need to go 120 miles in a day, I can do that.' is access to those stations. At least 50% of the time (or greater) these chargers are ICEd. Regular gas cars are parking in those spots preventing the leaf or another EV from utilizing the charger. I can't rely on public charging if I can't rely on those spots not being taken by gas vehicles. Fix that problem first, and youcan slove many issues.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pip
        Start taking pictures of any ICE cars that park in an EV charging spot. They deserve tickets.
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pip
        Public information campains can help that, and barring that, cities are passing no ICEing laws. Do it and get a ticket, and maybe an appearance on "Parking Wars".
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too bad they can't just all agree on 1.
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        The SAE/IEC combo plug is basically an agreement to have a harmonized standard. But unfortunately SAE/IEC moves slowly. IEC is even worse with the foot-dragging (their DC standard is scheduled for 2017 launch in Europe; although they have less urgency given they have 3-phase charging in the meantime). CHAdeMO/Japan had a head start and Nissan/Mitsubishi didn't want to wait, which is why they are going full bore on that standard in an attempt to make it de facto.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Karner is not a fan of regular Level 1 charging for a few reasons. First, the grid is better served by timed, quicker Level 2 charges rather than trickle charges. Second, most of the 110-volt charging cables are rated at 12 amps, and drawing 12 amps through a potentially old socket can heat up and corrode said socket. "We're seeing, at a fairly alarming rate, that plugs melt," he said. "Everyone is saying, 'well, there's something wrong with the plug. Well, it's really the receptacle because that receptacle can't transmit that level of power continuously. It just wasn't made to do that. The receptacle itself has better heat transfer than the plug does, so the plug tends to get hot and melt. So, I worry that we're going to have garages burn down and that type of thing with Level 1." FUD from someone who doesn't want you to charge at home. (Is it?!?!)
        Jesse Gurr
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        well the plug will get hot. I have a vacuum that draws 12 amps and after using that for 5-10 minutes the plug tends to get warm, and the receptacle probably does too. Why don't we invent a receptacle that has one socket on the bottom and instead of a socket on top, put a small cooling fan on top. Now you have an air cooled socket! :P
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Here in the UK our 240v standard is usually 13A, which can have problems charging a car for hours. In much of Europe 16A is standard, which can properly handle the load.
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Not FUD, they just want to sell Level 2 EVSEs (and the rather hefty installation fee).
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ele Truk
          My point, MTN RANGER - that is the textbook definition of FUD. A charging company exec, telling people "...plug tends to get hot and melt. So, I worry that we're going to have garages burn down and that type of thing with Level 1." Of course he has a product that can prevent that dangerous scenario from happening...
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ele Truk
          That is the definition of FUD! LOL Of course they want you to use their L2 EVSEs. "An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor's product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival."
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      They probably should look into putting these (or regular slow chargers) at hotels. If you reserve a room, you can also reserve the charger parking spot for the night. The other place would be rest areas along the highway. But, it will be interesting to see how the development of 200+mile batteries will impact the need for chargers.
      Aaron Schwarz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can anyone say Chademo to SAE & SAE to Chademo adapters ? Surely a safe adapter is less expensive then building totally different chargers........... come on....
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        It's easier to have dual ports than adapters. CHAdeMO needs a CAN bus, plus another analog handshaking, so the standard is completely incompatible with SAE/IEC/Tesla. An adapter between SAE/IEC/Tesla is possible, but it's much harder for CHAdeMO. Might as well just add it to the station than have people pay for and deal with adapters. Like Ele Truk says, CHAdeMO costs a lot of overhead money (I heard also the connector itself is much more more expensive than the SAE version).
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        obviously that can be done but that adds the issue of adapters being stolen. and from what I can tell we are not dealing with just two really bad standards competing. I think there is a testicle design for both the US J1772 plug and the one that's used in Europe already. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_62196 all 3 are terrible designs because of the sizes but having 3 is even worse
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        As for the Level One charging cables, if the cables are melting at 12amps, then the cable should have a built in safety thermocouple sensory and control that reduces the current draw to 10 or 8 amps when the plug heats to a certain pre-set point..... Also, it would really wise to upgrade these level one sockets to 20amp safe sockets so that the constant 12amp draw for 20+ hours is not melting anything....
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        The trouble is it costs $90,000 to get the CHAdeMO specs (you have to join, hence the fee) vs. SAE where you pay $85 for a copy of the specs. Not going to be a cheap adapter, that's for sure. Who know how much the receptacles and plugs for DCFC is going to be?
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron Schwarz
        I doubt you will see SAE/CHAdeMO adapters since according to the article they are using a different protocols and power sections.
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