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The battle lines are hardening.

At issue here are the competing DC fast charge standards, CHAdeMO (which is established and works with the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i) and the new SAE Combo Charger (which is not yet available on any cars for sale, and won't be for a while). CHAdeMo is, mostly, supported by Japanese companies, while the SAE Combo plug gets its backing from U.S. and German automakers. The two sides are currently in a war of words, but an important one.

Shad Balch, GM's manager of environment and energy policy, said during a recent public hearing in California that there should be a CHAdeMO embargo, "we need to make sure, especially because we're talking about taxpayer money, that ONLY those standards [i.e., the SAE combo plug] are installed going forward," Torque News reports. The crowd booed Balch, but he went on to say that, "there is a very small group of cars that use a non-standardized level 3 charging connector." We've heard that the first vehicle to get the SAE connector will be the Chevrolet Spark, sometime in 2013.

At CHAdeMO's General Assembly 2012, held yesterday in Tokyo, the Asian team responded. According to Hybrid Cars, CHAdeMO president Toshiyuki Shiga (who is also the COO of Nissan) said, "in the U.S. and in Europe there is a movement to eliminate the CHAdeMO by making the combo a regional standard." At the event, the SAE Combo option was repeatedly called "the plug without the cars."

GM and Balch are clearly fighting against Nissan's pure EV dominance, but they can't change the fact is that CHAdeMO is leading the way. Recently, at the SAE World Congress, Nissan was displaying some facts about CHAdeMO. As of the end of March 2012, 33 companies (including charging station suppliers) supported CHAdeMO and there were 1,071 CHAdeMO quick chargers installed around the world. Since the SAE Combo Charger is so new, there are no stations or cars that support it – yet – but most of the charging station companies we've talked to recently said they'll get behind whatever technology customers want. This war of words will likely determine which plug that is.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 78 Comments
      Doug
      • 3 Years Ago
      So where does Tesla fit in all this? Does GM want to stop Tesla "Superchargers" from being installed too? Tesla claims their connector is capable of 90 kW, but it actually looks nice and usable. As if it's made by people who care about design. Amazing!
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug
        "Does GM want to stop Tesla "Superchargers" from being installed too?" GM is only able to make comments because the chargers being discussed are installed with government funding (so it makes sense for them to at least support the SAE standard, even if it has to be a dual plug charger to support CHAdeMO at the same time). GM will not be able to make a comment on "Superchargers" which will be installed with private funding as far as I can tell. I'm not concerned if little to no superchargers get installed, because from what I can tell an adapter from Tesla to SAE DC should be relatively simple to make (they are electrically compatible, just have to get the signaling correct).
        taser it
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug
        The J1172 is already being used-for AC charging by thousands of Chevy Volt owners. It's very usable. The combo plug will add the capability of DC fast charging to future cars. If GM learned one thing from the EV1, cough, it's to adopt an international standard rather than waste time and effort developing a proprietary standard and expect mass adoption. Tesla for all it's accomplishments is heading down the wrong path wrt charging ports.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @taser it
          Don't forget that J1172 is also used for AC by thousands of Leaf owners. With the new standard, I wonder if the Volt will adopt it as part of the MCE / Mid-cycle Refresh in a year or two.
        Rotation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug
        I doubt any taxpayer money will go to installing Tesla-specific superchargers. It would be politically difficult to explain why you put in a charger that only works with $75K cars when there are two other more egalitarian standards.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Doug
        IMHO, Tesla is being stupid and doing their own thing. Standard is better than better. Even the snobs at Apple computer know this such that they use industry standards like Ethernet, DVI, USB, etc. Apple tried pushing Firewire . . . that went no where.
          Doug
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          In part, Tesla went their own way because they actually have cars to ship in 30 days. SAE has been ridiculously dragging their feet on this Combo standard. When is the first car with that Combo connector coming out?
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Apple is a poor example of standards compliance. iPhone isn't really standard: - you need a special cable to plug their phone, because global standard micro-USB plug isn't there. - no support for standard micro SD or SIM card, because again, no slot - no support for standard drag-and-drop file transfer, because iTunes - QuickTime / MKV format vs standard MP4 OTOH, look at HTC, Samsung, Lenovo, etc - all compatible.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Doug, that is a very good point. And with such large batteries, Tesla's cars could actually travel long distances if fast-chargers were available on major freeways. Being a first-mover has advantages and disadvantages. Well, all this fast-charging though is probably not all that big of a deal. I suspect that people will use fast-chargers for less than 2% of their charging.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Related News: That California government deal for chargers has been updated to reflect that the chargers will support both SAE and ChadeMO. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/nrg-energy-prepares-to-deliver-100mil-to-california-for-plug-in-car-infrast/
      JakeY
      • 3 Years Ago
      On CHAdeMO vs SAE. I don't advocate to completely eliminating CHAdeMO at this point and leaving Leaf owners (with the DC option) hanging in the meantime. However, I DO advocate every quick charger installed going forward supporting the SAE standard (either with or without an extra CHAdeMO plug included).
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JakeY
        For how much money they save in gasoline, they can probably afford to buy a SAE converter box and/or retrofit their car when the time comes.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      And some wonder why GM is disliked by many. This is the latest item in their rap sheet of standing in the way of progress, without any regard to the general welfare. 'As Mr. Midgley labored to perfect his TEL recipe throughout 1922, the world outside of the US was developing a strong preference for all things unleaded. In that very year the League of Nations recommended a ban on interior lead paints due to health concerns, and though Europe complied, the United States declined to adopt the resolution. Midgley received numerous letters from distinguished scientists around the world, urging him away from the “creeping and malicious poison” of tetra-ethyl lead, citing its role in the death of researchers. According to some estimates, each gallon of leaded gasoline burned would emit four grams of lead oxide, resulting in buildup along roadsides and in tunnels, as well as in the air. The warnings went unheeded. General Motors’ President Pierre du Pont demonstrated his company’s awareness of TEL’s dangers by describing it in a letter as “a colorless liquid of sweetish odor, very poisonous if absorbed through the skin, resulting in lead poisoning almost immediately.” In December 1922, the US Surgeon General wrote to GM regarding growing concerns that environmental lead would become a serious menace to public health. A response was received from Midgley, who was preparing to winter in Miami for some “fresh air” to treat his own mild case of lead poisoning. The matter of TEL pollution had been given “very serious consideration,” he wrote, but “no actual experimental data has been taken.” Nonetheless, he stated that “the average street will probably be so free from lead that it will be impossible to detect it or its absorption.” To manufacture and market their incredible new engine-enhancing additive– which had been dubbed Ethyl– General Motors partnered with Standard Oil and Du Pont to form the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation. Charles Kettering was installed as the president, with Thomas Midgley as vice-president. Their product went on sale in 1923, and underwent a couple early tweaks to add lead scavenger compounds to prevent pesky engine deposits.' http://www.damninteresting.com/the-ethyl-poisoned-earth/ One cannot accuse GM of criminal behaviour, as they owned the legislature. However it is a proven fact that they wilfully damaged the health of millions, and continue to do so in the Third World. The leopard has not changed it's spots, and obstructionism to the roll out of fast charging is consistent with GM's complete disregard for the public. What a company to bail out.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Hey . . . did you know that the Germans were Nazis as recently as 1945? Maybe we should boycott them instead of getting huffy about something that happened in 1922? Or maybe we should realize that both are pointless ancient history that is really not relevant today.
        taser it
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Yeah Dave, because adopting a proprietary standard always works out for the consumer over adopting an open standard. Damn those evil corporations - Ford, Chrysler, GM, VW, Porsche, Daimler, BMW. Damn them for working together to adopt a world-wide, royalty-free standard. Damn that Chevy volt for already adopting the J1772 AC charging port and GM for working with SAE and the aforementioned corporations to develop an international DC fast charging solution that is more capable than what the Japanese "standard" allows. Damn that GM for learning with the EV1 that you can't go it alone with a charger specification. Damn. Damn Damn.
        Aaron Schwarz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        The only thing wrong with the Volt is the price.... The only thing wrong with the Leaf is its range....
        Scambuster
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Good research by DaveMart. Fore nearly 70 plus years, Big Oil and the domestic auto industry collaborated their political influence to ensure tetra ethyl lead remains only the gasoline additive, despite generating millions of tons of airborn lead. After the Clean Air Act passed in the 70s, Big Oil and the domestic auto makers lobbied for MBTE, a carcinogen, as the substitute for tetra ethyl lead. Brushing aside mountains of evidence showing MBTE as a dangerous compound if leaked into ground water, the corrupt politicians caved-in to the demands of Big Oil and Big Auto. The alternative, the naturally biodegradable ethyl alcohol, was set aside and deemed not feasible under mysterious reasons. In less than 10 years, dangerous level of MBTE was detected in aquifers and water supply. In California, many water wells were contaminated and condemned, requiring the importation of expensive water from other sources. In addition to poisoning the land with lead for more than 70 years, Big Oil and Big Auto poisoned ground waters for the next millenium unless massive superfunds are allocated to cleanup the ground water. The biggest tragedy are the several generations of children who have been retarded by lead poisoning. And for the current generation of children, they will probably develop the type of cancers reminiscent of Love Canal due to consumption of MBTE contaminated water. Instead of adopting an existing fast DC charger standard that would foster the mass deployment of EVs and thereby reduce environmental pollutions, GM and others are playing games, stalling, and barricading progress. Having lost the hybrid market to Toyota, and the EV market to Nissan, GM and its ilks have chosen to stymie rather than cooperate because profit and pride come before national interest.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "The leopard has not changed it's spots, and obstructionism to the roll out of fast charging is consistent with GM's complete disregard for the public. What a company to bail out." What an incredibly stupid post. Leaded gas was phased out over 30 years ago, so has no bearing on the current issue. And no different from leaded paint in every home built before 1970, or asbestos insulation, or buss / aluminum / non-grounded wiring. Did you know that most homes don't even have GFCI on every outlet, nor to mention AFCI protection? As for the Third World, screw 'em. If they can't act in their own long-term best interest, they deserve whatever they get. GM is supporting a *global* standard, not doing a Telsa and creating a competing "standard". It is in the public's best interest to use global standards, not regional, corporate, or national standards. This provides the greatest interoperability, along with lowest net cost to the consumer. The bailout is ancient history.
      lad
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM and all other members of the AAM are holding off new EVs for the U.S.market hoping to continue to sell it's ICE cars because that's the plan...build only what is required for the California market and slow down the EV movement. GM are part of the group that has introduced the SAE plug to create a rift in fast charging, etc. Look for more issues to come. Nissan and Mitsu have stolen the march because neither is a member of the AAM. I expect to see Nissan's EVs lead the market in the next few years because they are serious about their efforts.
        lad
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lad
        @Spec: AAM Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; All those manufacturers you listed are members: AAM is the lobbying and coordinating organization for it's members. see http://www.autoalliance.org/index.cfm?objectid=2F2A6C30-637F-11DF-BA61000C296BA163 for members. The AAM is the organization that sets public policy for the auto industry just as the API (American Petroleum Institute) sets policy for The Big Five oil companies. @SUX: Conspiracy??...no, not so much as a block to scientific advancement in the name of making profits by trying to buying off Congress and the U.S. President..
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lad
          "a block to scientific advancement " Holy crap, dude. Take off the tinfoil beanie. The GM Volt is a bigger technical advance than anything out of Japan in the last decade. And GM *support* of a *global* standard doesn't block anything. It's actually pro-consumer.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lad
          "The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading advocacy group for the auto industry, represents 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, including the BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, **Mitsubishi Motors**, Porsche, **Toyota**, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America." Well those two are in the Chademo alliance and one even makes Chademo cars. So I don't think the AAM is behind this.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lad
        Yeah, clearly a GM conspiracy, that they managed to snooker everybody outside Japan...
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lad
        "GM and all other members of the AAM . . " Who are the AAM? Is that American Automobile Manufacturers? If so, are Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen members? GM wants to sell the Volt and they do have the all-electric Spark coming next year. All's fair in Love and (standards) war, I guess.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      Neither should be embargoed. CHAdeMO is not leading the way. 1,071 chargers total is so close to zero as to not matter, especially when you're almost none of them are in the US.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think a key fact that is not mentioned is that 800+ of the Chademo chargers are in Japan. 150+ of the Chademo chargers are in Europe. That means there are less than 200 Chademo chargers in the USA. (I can't find an exact number, I don't think that is one they want to publicize.) That is rounding error from zero.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      This fast charging war is stupid. But I still say that the smartest thing for Nissan to do is to just immediately adopt the SAE standard. The standard war would disappear and Nissan would pretty have the only car on the market that can handle the new fast-charging system. Pull some Jujitsu on them. Laugh at them for not having any cars for their own standard while selling your cars.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        I think it would be easiest to just sell SAE to North American markets.. .and keep Chademo for Japan. It will cost them a bit.. but it has to happen and the hardware is not that expensive, neither is the software. All automaker have to sell different standards depending on market. Right hand drive for UK and Aus Insrument clusters for Imperial units, Metric and SI Emission controls differ for Country and even states etc. This ain't a deal breaker.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          And Mitsubishi.. what are they chopped livery
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Judging by sales of Mitsubish-i in the USA . . .yes, they are chopped livery. (Nice pun, BTW.)
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Yeah, that is probably what will ultimately happen. I think the fact that Toyota has largely remained silent may doom Chademo. If Toyota pushed for Chademo, it might have had a chance. But as is, it is pretty much Nissan versus the world.
        solas
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        That would be, if it worked out ... an outstanding business move, in addition to a pie-in-the-face to any and all companies with no real intent to change, just complain and cause muck from the sidelines. It would show complete promise to pushing EVs forward ... and, at some point, that message is understood by car buyers, and they will ignore those car companies that produce.... well, nothing. Unfortunately, a) many companies are mired in loyalty to a technology ... even when it no longer serves them financially to cling so dearly to a home-grown solution. b) Almost every aspect of CHademo is incompatible with the SAE standard, protocols and all -- a transition is not straightforward, making a "Jujitsu" move financially expensive ... leaving the bean counters to calculate which is the better choice: a high risk war with big payout, or: roll-with-the-punches early and win long-term...
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @solas
          It is a very difficult situation and there are probably no good solutions for Nissan. The best they could hope for is to battle it out and possibly win the standard war. But I think the probability of that is exceedingly low given that every American and German automaker has lined up against them. And the amount of FUD involved would blunt their first-mover status in EVs. And let's not forget the unspoken nationalism that goes on. Although it is a bit underhanded, the GM guy has a point in that tax-payer funded chargers should pay for fast-chargers that support the cars of the Big 3 US automakers. You can complain that he is being nationalistic but the Japanese automakers are playing the exact same game with Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Subaru all lined up behind the TEPCO created standard. Switching to the SAE system would cost Nissan some money and annoy existing Leaf owners. That would suck for Nissan. But I think it would be better than the alternative of having to deal with a standards war and FUD for the next few years . . . especially if the end of that fight is them eventually capitulating. Just do the switch now and get the pain over early. Rip that band-aid off fast!
      masteraq
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chademo works well for electric cars like the Leaf that have smaller batteries, but is too slow for large battery packs (e.g. Tesla).
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @masteraq
        Well, CHAdeMO is not really that much slower. However, SAE does support up to 90kW vs 62.5kW for CHAdeMO. This is all moot since most new DC fast charging stations will probably have both connectors anyway.
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          Goodcheer, please don't spread ignorant rumors. You don't know what you are talking about. A car's system would obviously be made to only take in what it's spec'd to handle.
          taser it
          • 3 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          SAE supports up to 100kw. http://ev.sae.org/article/11005
          GoodCheer
          • 3 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          What power do your batteries support? 90kW for 5 minutes at a stretch could cost you an arm and a leg in battery cycle life.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @masteraq
        From a practical standpoint, the Leaf's pack is "big enough" to serve as a DD in the overwhelming majority of cases. 70+ miles RT / to charger is a pretty long ways. It's just that you can't use it for anything longer, so you probably need a second, larger car.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Opponets? C'mon.
      SVX pearlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      1000 Japanese chargers *globally* is a reason not to follow standard? ONE THOUSAND? Let's play a quick mind game, and do a little comparison: - How many 120V outlets are on your block? (hint, there are 20-50 per house) - How many 240V outlets are in your neighborhood? (at least 2 per house for dryer & oven) - How many gasoline pumps are in your city? (at least 6 per gas station) - in your state, or country? - What about diesel? Now that we've got a sense of scale, 1000 chargers really isn't that many. Now let's look at history. - What happened to the EV stations using GM Inductive charging paddles? Seems to me that those 1000 stations could be easily retrofitted to global SAE standard, just like the other early adopter GM Inductive paddles. If you want to jump the gun without a global standard, the cost of future retrofit is something you need to accept as a cost of doing business.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Yes only over a thousand chargers but over 20000 cars that can use them on the road today and 40000 by the end of the year vs. ZERO cars using combo, an untested plug which not a one can use now and not for another year. By then LEAF in US plant running making 120000 cars a year and by the end of 2013 will have a 220000/yr capacity worldwide. Stop this for what! Car makers who don't show up to play the game till the second half then want to take over and change the rules. Look at the EU makers in the alliance. Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, 3 companies of high priced cars. Not one of these except Ford have an EV on the market and don't plan to mass produce them. Even Ford is only looking at making about 100 in the first year and all they did was replace the engine with a motor and batteries, what many 3rd party mechanic shops are doing now with conversion. A conversion is not a EV design. Nissan has put 4B into bringing EV out. LEAF designed from bottom up as an EV and not a conversion. Went as far as designing a new quieter Wiper Blade Motor because what was on the market were to loud. Now the others are caught with there pants down and want to slow nissan's growth by throwing a wrench in the gears and doing conversions instead of or until they can design one from the bottom up as Nissan did. If those other makers had there heart in it they should have come out first and established the STD. GM had there chance with the EV1 and we all know what happened there.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          Nissan will not sell 20,000 LEAFs in the US this year. Your capacity figures are ridiculously optimistic.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          The vast majority of those cars are currently running just fine w/o any ChadeMo chargers. Most have probably never been fast-charged at all except maybe at the dealership. So there is no need to bend over backward to build fast-chargers for them. I don't want to mean but they knew the risk when they purchased those cars built with a fast-charge system that was not an agreed upon standard.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          SVX Pearlie, why would we talk about world-wide sales when justifying installing CHAdeMO chargers in the US? The number of cars sold outside the US that will end up charging in the US is minuscule. So when you want to look at comparing Volt and Prius sales in the US to LEAF sales vis-a-vis charger refitting, you have to look at only US sales of the LEAF.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          David, take a breath, please. Nissan gambled when they went first, They gambled that everybody would follow them. Not all gambles pay off. That's the risk of going first. Again, when we look at scale, - GM estimated 11,000 fuel stations necessary to cover the US alone. 1000 isn't even a tenth of that. - 20,000 total Leaf is *not* a big number. GM will have sold that many Volt this year alone. And Toyota sells far more that many Prius in each MONTH. Retrofitting 1000 stations globally really isn't a big deal, because ultimately, the number of SAE cars is going to dwarf the non-SAE cars.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          Rotation, the 20k Leaf is a global installed base number, not a US 2012 sales number.
          • 3 Years Ago
          P.S. CHAdeMO is a standard just not around the world.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is why this should have been hashed out 3-4 years ago. As an International traveler, the plug adapters work, but they aren't the best. Having one world wide standard would be the best. We should be able to do this.
        Rotation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        The market just wasn't there. It really isn't today either. The reason there are only 1,000 chargers isn't just because of paralysis over standards, it's because DC fast charging is so resource intensive and niche that there hasn't been enough demand to bother nailing it down yet. If you nail a standard down before anyone has a chance to use it, you just end up with a bum standard that doesn't take into account use cases.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          "The market just wasn't there. It really isn't today either." Today, there are 25,000 EVs on the road in the US. Definitely less than 50,000 globally. 3-4 years ago, there were less than 1000 EVs, none sold by a major OEM to consumers. In the US alone, there are something like 200 MILLION vehicles, with 12M to 15M sold annually. From a numbers standpoint, EVs didn't matter then, and they don't matter now.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Yeah, there are more EVs now. But the problem is the charging system isn't large enough. You cannot realistically afford to begin a journey that you cannot complete with the charge already in your battery. Even if there are chargers at your destination or along the way, you cannot count on them being working and available. Because of this, EV owners charge for the most part, at home. So there just isn't a huge demand for any kind of in-the-field charing. If you were able to reserve a charger before beginning a trip AND ensure it was working (at least at the moment of reservation) and won't be ICEd when you get there, then demand for charging in the field would rise. But we don't have that yet.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        "Having one world wide standard would be the best." How about global LHD, while we're at it - no more islands being RHD.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        That is certainly true but that doesn't help us today. But given the facts as they are, this issue should be hashed out immediately today instead of forcing a struggling industry to suffer a silly standards for a few years.
        Anderlan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        God bless you, Captain Hindsight. ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rmUZQrvF5o
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