On Monday, Nissan and BMW announced a joint project to expand electric car fast charging in 19 states across the US. This move is very welcome because, instead of sticking with the dispute over which fast charging system is best, we have two leading companies in each fast charging faction working together to deploy dual protocol fast charging stations. It’s another sign the car makers are supporting what car owners need, the use of any charging station, even as they continue on opposing fast charging technology tracks.
The project will install over 120 dual protocol (CHAdeMO and Combo Charging System) fast charging stations in 19 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North and South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. The stations will be managed by the Greenlots network.
The 50 kiloWatt charging rate on the stations means the current crop of 80-100 mile range electric cars will receive an 80% recharge in 30 minutes or so. That’s great for today’s electric cars, but beginning next fall it’s expected that affordable 200+ mile range electric cars will start to be available. Those cars will need over an hour for the 80% recharge, which will start to seem like a slow charge.
In the press release, the companies say they look to “support the development of a robust public charging infrastructure that will benefit current and future,” according to Cliff Fietzek, Manager Connected eMobility, BMW of North America. While the press release doesn’t describe the locations for these stations, Fietzek is says the purpose is “facilitating longer distance travel so that even more drivers will choose to experience the convenience of e-mobility for themselves.”
The actual locations is a very important determiner of how useful these stations will be. The facilitation of “longer distance travel” is best done at refueling stops and rest stops along highways, rather than at shopping centers or workplaces located well away from the highways.
For Nissan’s word contribution, Andrew Speaker, Nissan’s director of Electric Vehicle Sales and Marketing said “Nissan takes a three-pronged approach to growing public EV charging options for LEAF drivers by installing quick chargers in the community, at corporate workplaces and at Nissan dealerships.” That doesn’t bode well for the principle just stated.
That these stations support both CHAdeMO and CCS fast charging means electric car owners will have greater assurance of being able to use every charging station. While over the last five years we’ve had a common Level 2 charging protocol (J1772) and charging plug, fast charging has been caught up in an unfortunate dispute between three different systems. CHAdeMO (Nissan, Kia), CCS (GM, BMW) and Supercharger (Tesla Motors), all offer DC fast charging service to electric car driver, but are incompatible with each other. The market has responded by building systems supporting both CHAdeMO and CCS, but Tesla’s policies have prevented development of triple-protocol stations.