The end of the DC Plug War is nigh and the last rites about to be served on the CHAdeMO plug standard after Electrify America – the largest DC charging group in the US – announced it would stop installing CHAdeMO chargers.
One of the things the public finds off-putting about electric vehicles has been the past use of differing recharging plug standards for both AC and DC charging. In fact, one of the top reasons the general public still give for not considering buying an EV is ‘plug confusion’.
This has been annoying, for the Plug War has effectively been over for some time. For AC charging, this was sorted some years ago with the Type 2 plug being adopted by all EV manufacturers (including Tesla) in Australia, Europe and all other 220-240V/3 phase countries.
Type 1 (the early plug type used here), is now confined to countries with 120/240V 2 phase systems. (Note that Tesla still use their earlier proprietary combined AC/DC plug in those countries. Also note that I am ignoring the Chinese GB/T system as it is little used outside of that country).
For DC charging, the battle between the two major system (CCS and CHAdeMO) lasted a bit longer – but in the last couple of years manufacturers have in droves been adopting the CCS DC charging system over the earlier CHAdeMO one.
It got to the point that only Nissan and Mitsubishi were still using CHAdeMO. Even the last bastion of CHAdeMO advantage, V2X capability, is being addressed with CCS now following a roadmap to offering CCS V2X capability.
Unfortunately, the public has been slow in perceiving the effective settling of the DC Plug War.
I started writing about the looming death of CHAdeMO back in 2018 when Tesla picked sides by adopting the CCS DC fast-charge system, as well as last year when Nissan (the biggest supporter of CHAdeMO) quietly dropped CHAdeMO in favour of CCS for the upcoming Ariya.
However, because CHAdeMO got out of the blocks first and quickly provided a significant network of DC fast-chargers for the first generation of EVs, it means that the public sees two alternative leads on most DC fast chargers – hence concluding that there must be some sort of Plug War still going on despite the precipitous decline of new cars offering CHAdeMO.
A recent report from the largest DC fast charge provider in the US, Electrify America, now shows how far that decline has progressed. Their report notes that in the US:
- by 2025 it is likely that all new EVs (other than US Teslas) will be fitted with the CCS system and
- by that time, over 90% of non-Tesla BEVs in operation will use CCS, along with US Teslas now being able to use CCS via an adaptor.
It is worth remembering here that outside of the US, that proportion will be much greater as Tesla now fits CCS2 in most overseas markets.
The report further notes that CHAdeMO DC fast charge usage in the US has already fallen to only 7% of charging events (down from 15% in 2019) despite CHAdeMO chargers making up over 20% of Electrify America’s DC fast-charge equipment.
The result? Electrify America has acknowledged the inevitable and decided to stop fitting CHAdeMO connectors to new DC fast charge units in all US states (except California) – beginning January next year. To quote their report:
… Electrify America will focus its Cycle 3 investment on the future of electrification and deploy CCS as the non-proprietary standard at our stations. This action helps to reinforce the automotive manufacturers’ convergence on a single standard, reduces customer confusion, reduces capital and operating costs, and ultimately is expected to lead to increased EV adoption. (Page 46).
It is likely that this decision will flow through to other countries and DC fast charge networks – including Australia – but it does not mean that CHAdeMO fitted vehicle owners will suddenly be unable to use DC fast chargers, or that CHAdeMO fitted vehicles will suddenly drop in value.
The existing CHAdeMO leads will not be removed – merely the CHAdeMO network won’t be growing as (CCS fitted) EV numbers grow. Given the large number of CHAdeMO chargers out there and the small number of vehicles fitted with CHAdeMO, CHAdeMO fitted vehicle owners will have an advantage as the EV Transition speeds up – for there will be little competition for the remaining CHAdeMO leads.
On the other hand, it does put an end to the enduring EV myth that it is too early to buy an EV because the charging plug standards are not settled.
However, as I have often noted in the past – this does not end the ‘Charging War’. It merely moves to become the ‘Battle of the Charging Speeds’ as manufacturers advertise ever shorter DC fast charge charging times.
As an example, the Ioniq 5 is now advertising a maximum charging speed of 100km charged in 5 minutes – well up on the previous generation Ioniq and Kona BEVs.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.