After an extended news hiatus when it came to commercial and public charging infrastruture in the United States, we got a couple very big announcements in a very short period of time last week:
- 13 major U.S. employers (including Ford, GM and Tesla) joined the new Workplace Charging Challenge with the Energy Department to increase workplace availability of level 2 chargers tenfold over the next five years
- Then, Nissan, with some help from NRG, pledged to more than triple the current amount (154) of DC fast charging stations in the US, by adding over 500 new units in the next year and a half, but all CHAdeMO based, leaving the new SAE standard still stuck at zero
A Nissan LEAF Can Get A 80% Quick Charge In About 30 Mins (click to enlarge)
Nissan was moving the LEAF up to 6.6 kW charging (SV/SL), and was aggressively supporting the adoption of the CHAdeMO DC fast charging standard into the US.
At the same time, GM was firing the first shot back at Nissan (and CHAdeMO) by making the new fast charging SAE Combo plug an option on their upcoming Spark EV (default is 3.3 kW); while keeping the standard 3.3 kW charge rate for the Chevrolet Volt/Cadillac ELR, until at least when the platform gets upgrated in a couple years time.
But what of Ford? We know the Focus Electric charges at 6.6 kW and the Fusion/C-Max Energi at 3.3 kW, but no quick charging was available.
Although Ford offically endorsed the SAE fast charging standard when it was announced (along with Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, GM, Porsche and Volkswagen), since that time, we have heard very little from them about actually implementing fast charging of any kind.
In the face of so much competition from Nissan with CHAdeMO in the US, was Ford still on board?
Ford could potentially be one of the largest sellers of plug-in EVs in the US this year with 3 seperate offerings, one of which being an all electric vehicle. Is Ford planning on offering fast charging on any of their vehicles? If so, when will it happen? And why hasn't it happened already?
6.6 kW Of Juice Coming Up...But No Quick Charging Option Available On The All Electric Focus
We talked to Mike Tinskey, global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure at Ford, and he tells us that the company not only still supports the standard, but plans on implenting it in their cars...someday.
"We are supportive of the SAE DC Combo standard, and will be offering it in the future – but haven’t disclosed the specifics."
Mike also explains why fast charging is important, and why Ford ended up backing SAE's new Combo standard:
"We believe that having the ability to quickly charge your battery not only provides a real benefit of extending your electric range – but also a psychological impact that allows drivers to drive further knowing they have a safety net. Fast charging also provides a solution for some drivers that don’t have access to a garage or a regular charge spot (like a multi-family dwelling). Additionally, the communication protocol that we agreed to on the DC combo coupled with the DC connector allows for some advanced features like V2H, V2G, and utility communications."
On the challenges behind any fast charging proposition today, and why perhaps it still doesn't make sense to offer quick charging on their products now:
"The challenge that is top of mind for the industry is to find a viable business case for fast charge infrastructure. Currently, the daytime electricity costs (peak demand charge from utilities), coupled with the costs of hardware and equipment installation provide for a challenging business case – especially if the charge stations are only used occasionally. We believe that new models will emerge to overcome this issue that we can share if interested."'
Mr. Tinskey also gave us Ford's opinion on Nissan and NRG's unexpectedly forward approach to building out fast charging infrastructure in the US:
"Relative to the NRG announcement with Nissan – we are hopeful that NRG considers “dual” output fast chargers that support both DC Combo/Chademo. This is the framework that was agreed on for the NRG/State of California settlement. Currently, a majority of the automotive OEM’s have declared that they will support DC Combo and we know that EVSE manufacturers are currently UL certifying DC Combo fast chargers to support deployment. Three automotive OEM’s have publicly declared the production dates for DC Combo product, and you’ll see the first this summer – so this should start the trend."
Our thanks to Mr. Tinskey and public relations rep at Ford, Kristine Relja