ABB Earns UL Listing For SAE Combo DC Fast Chargers; Should We Expect An Accelerated Rollout?


The all-electric BMW i3 gets energized at the NRG eVgo Freedom Station in San Diego

The all-electric BMW i3 gets energized at the NRG eVgo Freedom Station in San Diego

ABB announced that it received Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety listing for its Terra 53 fast charger with SAE Combo DC plug.

This comes 2-3 months after the first unit was installed in California by NRG eVgo in September, which should enable the rollout of such points across North America.

ABB offers units with power of 20, 30, 40 and 50 kW and with both SAE Combo plug and/or CHAdeMO plug.

Andy Bartosh, Program Manager of ABB’s EV Charging Infrastructure business stated:

“Achieving UL certification supports our mission to deliver safe, compliant, market-leading products to station owners and drivers. In addition, we’ve further optimized the product footprint so that sites can tailor their charging offering to their driving customers. Some sites require a quick 15 minute charge at 50kW power, and some locations are better suited to an hour-long fast charge at 20kW power.”

ABB seems to be in close cooperation with BMW in Europe and in the U.S.  These two companies will be see often together preparing infrastructure for the BMW i3 launch.

Cliff Fietzek, Manager of Connected e-Mobility at BMW of North America said:

“The availability of ABB’s UL listed Terra 53C SAE Combo Charger will support the launch of the BMW i3 in the US in the second quarter of 2014. The Terra 53 gives i3 drivers with the DC charging option, the possibility to recharge their car up to 80% in under 30 minutes, extending their EV driving range significantly.”

The BMW i3 introduction in the US is expected in Q2 next year.  The Chevy Spark EV should get the DC Combo fast charge option this month.

Britta Gross, Director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy at General Motors said:

“Achieving UL certification enables the continued rollout of the SAE combo connector, which is the new industry standard for DC Fast Charging of electric vehicles, and broadly supported by most major automakers. This paves the way for the entire automotive industry to make electric vehicles more convenient for a vast majority of customers. For example, owners of the Chevrolet Spark EV equipped with DC fast charge capability will be available before the end of the year in California and Oregon.

Here is first ABB public fast charger with a Combo plug installed in San Diego Fashion Valley Mall alongside a CHAdeMO one:

Category: Charging

26 responses to "ABB Earns UL Listing For SAE Combo DC Fast Chargers; Should We Expect An Accelerated Rollout?"
  1. io says:

    “continued rollout of the SAE combo connector”, “broadly supported by most major automakers”… Wow, do they really believe that?

    Then this gem: “owners of the Chevrolet Spark EV equipped with DC fast charge capability will be available before the end of the year”. Not sure about the car, but at least owners will be there; that’s a start! 🙂

    As to the main question “Should we expect an accelerated rollout?”
    Well… Let’s think of this one first: who pays for it?

    I don’t see companies like CarCharging, Chargepoint, Aerovironment etc rushing to install quick-chargers which no car can use right now, although it will be interesting to see whether new installations go dual-standard or continue being CHAdeMO only.
    While the price premium for the dual-nozzle Terra 53 over a single-nozzle one is probably small, I suspect that ABB units come with a much higher price-tag than the Nissan/Sumitomo one (15k$).

    In California, NRG will be legally required to install both CHAdeMO and CCS on 200 sites, starting from when UL-listed chargers are available from at least two companies, and at least two manufacturers provide compatible cars. That condition is now almost half fulfilled.
    Unsurprisingly, with the exception of the San Diego demo site, their current stations are CHAdeMO and L2 only.

    1. CHAdeMO is being installed around the world at about 3 per day. No matter how you slice it, those multi-standard cost more, hence I can foresee hesitation to pay for it.

      CHAdeMO keeps plugging along, which is why the Germans are doing whatever they can through EU legislation to try and limit, kill, slow down, cast doubts, etc. Without the power of legislation, Franknplug has one serious uphill battle.

  2. Aaron says:

    Seriously, why do we need CCS? What does it do that CHAdeMO doesn’t? Is this a case of “we didn’t make it, so we aren’t using your standard” kind of thing?

    What DC fast charging DOESN’T need right now is fragmentation.

    1. scottf200 says:

      No big deal at all with all the units that have both. They’ll handle the LEAF and the BMW/SparkEV and the Tesla Model S / X / E (with similar CCS Combo adapter like the existing J1772 one).

      1. Our supply of dual (or more) standard plugs in the US can be counted on one hand. Frankenplug is still the charge protocol without cars, and it gets more comical when you go back 18 months ago and read the BS from GM and German auto manufacturers… Nissan and Tesla were the “niche” EV manufacturers.

        What a bunch of clowns.

    2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Smaller DLO budget, lower parts count, cable reuse, and IIRC CCS beats CHAdeMO max power currently (100kW vs 62.5kW).

  3. Why not make an article with the same hyperbole for CHAdeMO or Tesla Superchargers. Heck, Tesla doesn’t UL list anything, so I guess they aren’t growing.

    CHAdeMO has dozens of UL listed products, and over 4000 installed chargers worldwide, with over 100,000 CHAdeMO capable cars. Heck, over 40,000 are in the US alone.

    1. scottf200 says:

      Re: Tesla doesn’t UL list anything, so I guess they aren’t growing.
      Difference seems to be Tesla makes and installs their own. If I were really traveling a lot in a Tesla I’d buy the chademo Tesla adapter but most people believe it will be more expensive than than a simplier CCS Combo straight-through adapter (if it matches the existing J1772 Tesla Adapter).

      1. I agree, the Tesla adaptor might be cheaper for almost non-existent USA Frankenplug than the 4000+ CHAdeMO installed chargers, all the same around the world. Of course, you’d need a different Frankenplug adaptor for Germany, since the plugs aren’t even compatible even within the Frankenplug standard.

        Tesla’s lack of UL listing doesn’t have anything to do with Tesla making their own chargers / EVSE’s. You do know that they also sell them to individuals? Even the Superchargers?

        1. scottf200 says:

          Interesting point. Thanks. I was only thinking of the Tesla Superchargers and I’ve never heard of Tesla selling one to an individual. I didn’t think there were any type of Tesla EVSE that were meant for commerical usage. That is what I thought was being discussed. I would think for some state governments or federal grant money that the UL was a prerequisite. AFAIK Tesla Superchargers are not being installed that way (as of yet). One CCS Combo charger purchase would be enough since most would not have their Tesla vehicle in both the USA and then Germany unless I misunderstood your point.

          1. My point was that CHAdeMO was the same around the world, and Frankenplug is not. Yes, I get it that most people just hunker down five days a week commuting to work and that’s their whole life.

            Believe it or not, some people ship cars overseas, move overseas, get jobs overseas, etc. So far, oil cars do that without much trouble, but future EV’s with niche charging standards like Frankenplug won’t be one that will be easy to take with you on assignment to Europe.

            Tesla HPWC / HPC’s and Superchargers are sold / given to private enterprises. I just read about two Superchargers (4 plugs) that are going in a gasoline service station near JFK airport in New York. They even had a picture of the delivered Superchargers still in their boxes.

            Tesla is the real deal. Nissan and Renault is too. Mitsubishi, too. Just not in the USA! None of them use or will Frankenplug.

      2. io says:

        1) When purchased with the car, the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter costs 400$. The only other high-current connector (Roadster to Model S) is 650$, even though it’s just a cable with plugs on both ends. Even the trivial J1772 adapter is already 95$.
        What makes you think that SAE/VDE CCS adapters will be priced lower, and that the difference, if any, would matter to someone spending over 70k$ on a vehicle?

        2) Why would Tesla even develop and manufacture CCS adapters (US and/or EU), when not only it’s unclear whether such stations will ever be installed in numbers, and even if they are, they will be along with CHAdeMO anyway?

        I don’t think there would be much of a market for it. Would someone rather get today an adapter they can use at all quick-chargers, or wait for something Tesla has not said they would do, with the hope to eventually get something that may or may not be cheaper, and which can be used at… currently one public station, in San Diego?

        1. scottf200 says:

          Have you seen the chademo Tesla adapter? Whoa! The Tesla CCS adapter will very likely be quite a bit smaller and a lot less intimidating to the general Tesla drivers and their spouses. Don’t forget about Model E being far less then $70K. If most DCFC will be “local” and there will be mainly dual charges in the future then I would expect Tesla CCS adapters purchased/used more than chademo ones. Non-local travels will have both. I would. BMW seems quite serious and is going to make the CCS public chargers happen it certainly appears.

          1. io says:

            You haven’t provided any explanation for your assertions, let me call them baseless.

            As the DCQC CCS connector is at least as big as CHAdeMO (much taller, especially the US version, albeit narrower), I see no reason why such an adapter wouldn’t be just as “intimidating”.
            Worse, as the US CCS variant has only one retaining clip at the very top, it might extra precautions to safely operate in arbitrary orientations.

            Those speculations are likely moot anyway, because again, to my knowledge, Tesla has never hinted that they would sell a CCS adapter.
            This makes sense: it wouldn’t allow their customers to do anything more than what they can today with existing adapters (see my reply to JakeY below).

            Last, if BMW was indeed so serious, they would somehow contribute to the infrastructure, like Nissan and Tesla, wouldn’t they?

            1. scottf200 says:

              I’d expect it to be the same style as this without a cord. Tesla is compatible with the SAE standard J1772/combo so it is easy for them to support.

        2. JakeY says:

          1) “Even the trivial J1772 adapter is already 95$” The SAE Combo DC adapter would be just as trivial. SAE Combo DC only needs 5 pins to work (just like standard J1772) and Tesla’s CTO was put on record for saying the Model S is 100% compatible with the Combo protocol. And keep in mind that the J1772 adapter is free with the car and that the CHAdeMO one costs $1000 separately (vs $95 for J1772).

          2) NRG will install 200 in California. Smud is installing a bunch in Sacramento. VW recently swapped out their CHAdeMO charger for a dual connector one at their research center. It’s pretty clear the CCS backers are serious about this. So why would Tesla not take advantage of that (esp. given the largest market is in California)?

          1. io says:

            1) An SAE CCS adapter wouldn’t be “just as trivial”. For starters, it needs to pass 1.5x the current or more, at twice the voltage. Size will also be vastly different; see my comment above.
            This and the weight of QC cables likely require an extension-cord-style design, just like the current Roadster or CHAdeMO adapters.

            2a) I don’t consider VW getting a dual-standard charger at their research lab proof that “CCS backers are serious” about anything, sorry.
            (The previous QC wasn’t even theirs anyway, was it?)

            2b) What advantage would Tesla gain by supporting CCS that it doesn’t already get with CHAdeMO?
            The only notable anticipated CCS deployment is the NRG California settlement, and those 200 stations will be required to be dual-standard. That’s why they will have CCS in the first place; existing NRG locations, as well as ones in other states, are CHAdeMO only.

            1. JakeY says:

              “1) An SAE CCS adapter wouldn’t be “just as trivial”.”
              The Roadster adapter is like that because it was an early low volume design. It passes exact the same current and voltage as the J1772 adapter! Yes, a SAE DC adapter would need to be rated for more current/voltage, but that’s mainly a factor of larger pins and wiring (keep in mind the pins in the Model S is already rated for over the SAE DC spec). What they save over a CHAdeMO adapter is no need for protocol translation (and no pin count incompatibility), which means a “trivial” pin-to-pin adapter like the current J1772. The CHAdeMO adapter is that big not because of connector size, but because of that translation hardware housed inside the big block.

              2a) I didn’t make it clear but the VW charger in Belmont is VW owned and open to public use. It was one of the earliest CHAdeMO chargers in the Bay Area.

              2b) What Tesla gets is a connector that’s protocol compatible with their current implementation, and a likely cheaper adapter that they perhaps can even include with the car for free. When most chargers are CCS/CHAdeMO, I think it makes logical sense that people will choose the less expensive adapter that can accomplish the same thing. They also get V2G if they so wish (but I don’t think Tesla cares about that at this point).

              As for your point in response above about Tesla not giving a hint of a CCS adapter, they didn’t do so for CHAdeMO either. In fact, for CHAdeMO they explicitly denied they would make one up until they silently released it in the store!

              1. io says:

                Tesla announced its CHAdeMO adapter almost a year ago.
                When/where did it deny wanting to do so?

                A CAN to PLC translator can be implemented with 2 main chips, both about the size of an SD card: a microcontroller with CAN + MII, and a HomePlug PHY. E.g: and the micro PLC
                In volume, 10 to 20$. Much smaller and cheaper than the heavy wiring, connectors and enclosure required regardless of the protocol.

                I’m not familiar enough with Tesla’s protocol to judge whether a (mostly) passive adapter for CCS would be feasible. If not, a PLC-to-PLC translation could be much more difficult than the CHAdeMO case.

                You make a good point about cost vs production volume actually. With CHAdeMO a given for Japan (and, so far, everywhere else), it may well be cheaper for Tesla to make just that, instead of 3 different adapters (CHAdeMO, CCS US, CCS EU).

                CHAdeMO supports V2G (and V2H, even V2V) just fine.

                1. JakeY says:

                  “Tesla announced its CHAdeMO adapter almost a year ago.”
                  Read the article a bit more closely. That was an unverified source and it only refers to Japan. Tesla never made an official announcement through PR channels, esp. for the US market.

                  As late as August 2013, their response to inquires about such an adapter was:
                  “They said there were no plans to make one for North America because of issues with the CHAdeMO chargers potentially being able to override the Model S’s internal charging safety systems.”

                  “A CAN to PLC translator”
                  Except that’s not the only problem; there’s also an analog handshake and pins that the adapter has to simulate:

                  “CHAdeMO supports V2G (and V2H, even V2V) just fine.”
                  Actually it doesn’t, it only supports V2H (and there’s a difference although the term is used sloppily). CHAdeMO (the protocol) does not support grid communication necessary for V2G. What it does support is bi-directional power, but then you need another piece of hardware (currently proprietary implementations AFAIK) to communicate with the grid. It’s not even clear if the V2H implementations are part of the spec (it could be purely them using the connector but a totally unrelated protocol (Toyota did the same with the non-DC J1772 connector).

                2. io says:

                  So you give more credibility to one random freshly-registered dude on a forum (who incidentally, was countered by the next, more senior poster), than stuff reported by multiple green cars sites, which preliminary specs like later confirmed?

                  True, a CHAdeMO to Tesla Model S adapter is more than CANPLC, but the rest (aside from the hefty DC lines) is absolutely trivial, as your schematics show:
                  Lines 2 and 7 provide power to the adapter, so it’s already guaranteed to not initiate charging until it gets “connection ok” and “QC ready”; no extra circuitry needed.
                  Line 10 gets to a input on the microcontroller with one pull-up resistor (couple cents; as the adapter is powered by the QC and not the car, we can even skip the optocoupler).
                  Line 4 is driven by a simple transistor (also cents), itself controlled by the microcontroller we already have.

                  Regarding V2G: obviously the vehicle’s DC never touches the grid (AC) directly, so even if the vehicle could be made “grid-aware”, that couldn’t be used as a communication channel anyway.
                  An inverter is required between the two, and THAT equipment, not the car, controls what goes to the grid (or the home, whatever); the car merely provides power when requested by the inverter.
                  It doesn’t matter what protocols are used between the grid and the inverter (utility-specific; e.g. proprietary radio or ZigBee from a smartmeter), and between the inverter and the vehicle.

                  [In the Toyota case, that inverter appears to be inside the car, possibly combined with the onboard charger, with no provision for quick charging/discharging.]

  4. mustang_sallad says:

    “Frankenplug”?? I have watched a number of smaller people struggle to handle the massive Chademo connector and it’s confusing array of levers. One person had to give up and let me step in. On top of that, the necessity to have two separate ports requires a massive barn door on the front of the Leaf, or two separate ports on the iMIEV, making it much harder to share body panels between EVs and ICEs on the same platform, and adds cost in the number of or size and required robustness of the charge port covers. This, as well as the 8 extra inputs required with the CHAdeMO + J1772 approach, means that CCS is inherently less expensive.

    The Tesla CCS adaptor WILL be cheaper. We’ll see whether its an extension cord or a beer can, but at the very least, it WON’T require a computer inside for translating to and from CAN.

    Everybody in the industry that I’ve spoken to (mostly DCFC manufacturers) has told me its a matter of when, not if. Even Nissan sees the writing on the wall and is supporting dual standard installations as a way of protecting their current product as deep into the future as possible. The only thing people like io and Tony Williams are doing is ensuring this transition is as slow, painful, and as confusing as possible for those on the outside.

    1. JakeY says:

      I think people supporting CHAdeMO (and being strongly opposed to CSS at the same time) probably do it for one good reason: they own a car that has it! What they worry about is that a transition would make their cars unable to charge at DC stations (and it’s not a given that a connector swap will be available for older cars).

      “Even Nissan sees the writing on the wall and is supporting dual standard installations”
      It’s not just Nissan, but the entire CHAdeMO organization. They know if they play hardball, they probably won’t be around very long in the international stage and governments (mainly EU) probably would not want to accommodate them.

      As for most of the Japanese automakers, their country is already defacto CHAdeMO. So for them, it saves them money overall to go with CHAdeMO (even given the two ports). However, for other automakers outside Japan, that’s not a factor.

      1. mustang_sallad says:

        Actually, i’m pretty sure Tony Williams drives a 2nd gen Rav4 EV, so his push back against CCS is not selfish, I’ll give him that much!

      2. Bill G. says:

        Your point is the crux of the issue Jake. All the yadda-yadda about the cost of adapters and UL listing is irrelevant because a couple of hundred dollars more or less in adaptor cost won’t make a difference to EVers wanting to quick charge, nor will they care whether it’s UL listed or not. My (perhaps not-so) paranoid side suspects the controversy is fueled (pardon the pun) by EV opponents who realize that quick charging (along with battery cost and energy density) is one of THE most important components of EV adoption. A few strategically placed DCQC’s will nearly double your range (at each interval) and your accessible area increases exponentially. Were I an oil man, I’d be happy to throw gas on both sides of the which-DCQC-is-better fire. Divide and conquer.