U.S. Automakers Push for Single EV Fast Charging Standard

Seven automakers in the U.S. have endorsed the use of a standardized single-port fast charging approach for use on electric vehicles. Today’s EV fast charging announcement proposes to use the system announced last month from the European Automakers Association – ACEA – in the U.S. and Canada. It was the first time Ford or General Motors had stated a North American position on which charging system to use. Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen agreed to support a harmonized single-port fast charging approach for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the United States.

Noticeably absent thus far is Nissan, arguably the leader in EV’s along with Alliance Partner Renault. In the U.S. Nissan will soon deliver its 10,000th Leaf, and its customers have installed thousands of EV charging stations at a cost of $2,200 to $2,500 – none of them compatible with the proposed standard. In a separate announcement, Nissan cut the price of its Leaf fast-charging station to $1,818 for a “typical” home installation.

How large the market share is for expensive, range limited EVs remains to be seen. Most automakers assume the share will be small, ranging from 1% to 10% of new sales by 2020 – 2025, depending on how quickly the range, expense and small size challenges can be addressed. (Hybrids in the U.S. are considered by some people a success at a 2% share – about the number of early adapters.)

Also very much in play here are government policies favoring the nascent EV business, particularly how lavish are the taxpayer subsidies – if they indeed survive the European and American debt crisis – which at the moment are badly needed to make EVs more than technological curiosities for a limited number of fans.

The proposed system is a combined charging approach integrating all charging scenarios into one vehicle inlet/charging connector and uses identical ways for the vehicle to communicate with the charging station. This allows electric vehicles from Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen to share the same fast charging stations, something that can be done now in Europe.

The seven auto manufacturers also agreed to use HomePlug GreenPHY as the communication protocol. This approach will facilitate integration of the electric vehicle into future smart grid applications

Automakers point to the success of Level 1 and Level 2 (for 220V charging in the U.S.) as an example of how standardization will increase the adoption of electric vehicles and increase customer satisfaction.

The harmonized electric vehicle charging solution is backward compatible with the J1772 connector standard in the U.S. Backward compatibility also has been achieved in Europe where the system is based on the IEC 62196 Type 2. The approval of the J1772 standard has given electric vehicle owners the assurance they can charge at all Level 2 charging stations. Prior to standardization, an EV owner had no way of knowing if the charge port they were pulling up to was compatible with their vehicle.

“At Ford, we know how important it is to provide technologically innovative solutions that are convenient for our customers – it’s part of our ‘One Ford’ vision and a key factor in our company’s overall success,” said Steve Biegun, Ford’s vice president of international government affairs.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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