Despite growing competition from the SAE Combo Charger Nissan remains committed to CHAdeMO. But why turn the disagreement into a fight?
At the New York Auto Show this week, the Nissan booth displayed a sign that promoted the first major DC Fast Charging standard and says, "Nissan is committed to creating an industry standard for charging, and to finding a charging standard that suits all EV owners." Given that there are more than 32,000 Leafs with CHAdeMO on the roads today, the company can't exactly change horses now. Turns out, Nissan doesn't want to change, said Brendan Jones, director of Nissan Leaf marketing and sales strategy for Nissan North America.
Jones told AutoblogGreen, "We are committed to continuing to deploy [CHAdeMO]. We are also committed to making sure there is an open dialogue and communication on this with the other OEMS, with the Combo standard, etc. The dialogue is shifting, in my opinion, to something much more positive. Everyone agrees we have to build the infrastructure. The topography, the unit itself, we can continue to debate."
"The industry is rallying around, saying, look, we just need to build the infrastructure," he continued. "In-ground is the most expensive, on the top is becoming the least expensive." What that means is that laying cable and deciding where to put future fast chargers is the part that costs a lot of money. When buying in bulk, Nissan's outdoor 50-kW DC Fast Charger can be had for around $15,500 (that $10,000 headline number from a year and a half ago is for the indoor version). While that may seem big compared to a $2,000 Level 2 home charger, it's actually the least expensive unit on the market, Jones said. Others can range from around $25,000 to $40,000.
"The dialogue is shifting, in my opinion, to something much more positive. Everyone agrees we have to build the infrastructure."
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So, everyone agrees that putting in the wires is a good thing. Even with the connector differences, there is some agreement that the above-ground challenges can be worked out. Jones did not come out against SAE in any way, saying that dual-plug stations – Gridbot proposed one option – could be the answer, especially when charge providers install the lower power 25-kW fast charger infrastructure. Some have suggested the SAE/CHAdeMO conflict will be a big problem, but that was not the message in New York. Earlier this year, the CHAdeMO Association said it was "disappointed" that CHAdeMO is not part of the European standard. Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi support CHAdeMO while US and European automakers like BMW, General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen support the so-called SAE Combo standard. When we asked if there are any discussions about putting the SAE Combo charger into the Leaf, Jones said, "Not at this time."
Is Nissan considering putting the SAE Combo charger into the Leaf. "Not at this time."
There are around 200 CHAdeMO fast chargers in the US right now, and more are coming. Jones pointed to the NRG settlement in California as one example of the industry moving forward to put wires in the ground. Earlier this year, Nissan also announced it would work with eVgo to increase the number of DC Fast Chargers in the US to 500 over the next 18 months. Aside from the Leaf, the CHAdeMO connector is also available on the Mitsubishi i. The Chevy Spark EV will be the first vehicle with the SAE Combo connector.