Electric-vehicle charging plug

Electric-vehicle drivers are bracing for a battle that could make Obama-Romney look like the Tennessee Waltz.

The various automakers behind two incompatible plug-in standards for electric vehicle fast-charging stations are championing their own system as the better of the two just as global EV sales are expected to rise during the next few years. With more cars, more people will be looking for stations that can recharge their vehicles in a matter of minutes, Automotive News reports.

As regular readers will likely know, Japanese automakers like Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi are supporting the CHAdeMO standard, which was launched in 2010 and is used in 1,500 stations worldwide (all but 200 are in Japan). US and European automakers like BMW, General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen are instead standing behind the so-called SAE Combo standard, which was first demonstrated in May and is expected to debut by the end of the year. Combo supporters tout their standard as superior because, unlike CHAdeMO, it allows for one port to charge at both Level 2 and DC fast charge. CHAdeMO requires two different plugs. Earlier this month, SAE International finalized its so-called J1772 technical standards for Combo chargers.

The problem, as you might suspect, is that two competing systems, "could be another roadblock to the introduction of electric vehicles, increasing consumer resistance. A scattering of incompatible charging stations compounds range anxiety with plug anxiety," writes Automotive News. In other words, this is exactly not what plug-in vehicles need

In May, a GM executive publicly called for a CHAdeMO embargo, while CHAdeMO supporters have called Combo "the plug without cars," since no vehicles have been produced that are compatible with that standard.

As for Tesla Motors? It's pitching its own, third system of Superchargers, which are not compatible with either of the others.

This could get interesting.