God bless CHAdeMO. It was the DC fast-charging plug shape that was poised to win the charger format wars, purely by being installed on the only EVs capable of fast charging in their day, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Alas, it didn’t succeed. Most DC fast charging stations are now CCS only and will soon pivot to NACS. Most fast charging service providers have also announced that they’ll be sunsetting support for the CHAdeMO. Yet, the lack of support for CHAdeMO is a serious issue. Nissan still sells a brand new Leaf that can only DC fast charge via a CHAdeMO connector. In a CCS and NACS world, what does that mean for Leaf owners who want to fast charge?

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A CHAdeMO adapter could allow some cars to chrge at CCS stations.

The CHAdeMO plug is a French-Japanese developed DC fast charge plug that initially appeared on the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but was superseded by CCS and now NACS. Because of its communication protocol, there has not been an adapter until recently. The new adapter should allow any CHAdeMO equipped vehicle (namely, the Nissan Leaf) to charge at any CCS DC fast charging station. 

The CHAdeMO association cautions against using adapters, because it has not been able to yet certify a standard of safe interoperability. 

Well, CHAdeMO-equipped EV drivers can now rejoice: There’s a working CCS to CHAdeMO adapter out there. However, buyer beware, although the YouTuber Daniel, of Dala’s EV Repair was pleased with the device’s functionality, the actual CHAdeMO association doesn’t condone the use of adapters. There are a couple of good reasons why. 

EV chargers have complicated communications protocols that aren’t always compatible. It’s not like packing for an overseas vacation, where we just chuck a travel adapter in our suitcase so the curling iron from home won’t explode. One of the main reasons we’ve not had a good option between CHAdeMO and CCS (and now NACS), is that fundamentally, the communication protocols between the charging source and the vehicle are different. CCS and NACS use what is known as “PLC” communication, or power line communication, in which the “handshake” between the charger and vehicle is transmitted via a pulse-width modulation signal, by the power lines themselves. CHAdeMO uses the CANbus protocol, which is the same style of communication that computerized control modules in modern vehicles use. They’re completely different technologies.

CHAdeMO Dala EV Plug In

Thus, it looks like Daniel's adapter has to translate those PLC signals into CANbus signals, so the car can charge. The charger, purchased on Alibaba, and made by Dongguan Longood Technology Co., Ltd. is big, bulky, and expensive. It contains a battery-powered computer that does just so, translating those PLC signals to CANbus signals allowing the charger and car to communicate. It is not at all like the petite CCS to NACS adapters Tesla owners use when they need to use CCS charging infrastructure.

2018 Nissan LEAF CHAdeMO DC fast charging inlet

It appears to work well enough, though. Daniel plugged the adapter into the charging lead, pressed start on the adapter itself, and then plugged the charging cable and adapter into his Nissan Leaf. He didn’t say anything about charging speeds, but on the product’s website, the adapter is rated for 125 amps, which translates to 62.5 kW. That’s more than the standard Leaf S can handle, and right at the max speed of the Leaf SV+. Regardless, it appears to work well for Daniel's older Leaf, which would only be rated for about 46 kW in the first place. 

Still, CHAdeMO association representative Tomoko Blech isn’t too keen on the idea.

“There are already companies that provide CHAdeMO to CCS adapters in the market, but we have responded to inquiries from users and others that we do not recommend their use, as we are unable to validate the safety of such products and because we need a standardized solution for interoperability" she wrote in an email to InsideEVs.

"It is our view that having products without a well-defined conformance test is inappropriate," wrote Blech, adding that EV fast chargers are some of the most high-voltage, dangerous electrical devices that untrained members of the public will ever use.

To be clear, Blech and the CHAdeMO association aren’t against the concept of adapters. The group worked with the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and put the idea on the IEC’s agenda back in 2019, envisioning a world where safe, reliable adapters can exist between charging standards. Blech said that CHAdeMO is actively working toward creating safe and reliable adapters.

“For CHAdeMO, our mission is to provide safe, affordable, and interoperable DC charging to EV drivers. If NACS is to become such a standard, CHAdeMO will make sure to collaborate and align with the NACS group, so as not to cause inconvenience to users,” she wrote. 

Concerning this particular adapter, Blech and the CHAdeMO association remain weary. "There are far more than 20 automakers that make CHAdeMO cars, and their current values and various conditions are very different, so we don't see how a third party that doesn't know the detailed behavior of each car brand/model can guarantee safety," wrote Blech.

Blech insisted that if any CHAdeMO adapter were to get approval, the device would likely need to come from the manufacturer, whose engineers are explicitly aware of each vehicle's unique characteristics, not a third party that didn't even initially test its adapter on any vehicles. 

"While [the CHAdeMO association] understands that some people may be disappointed, we cannot guarantee that there is no risk of burns or electric shock, and we can only ask consumers to take responsibility if they still wish to use such a product," Blech continued.

Of course, I asked Nissan if it had plans to introduce an officially sanctioned CHAdeMO to CCS adapter for Leaf owners. The answer wasn't so rosy: 

Early Nissan EV adopters continue to be an integral part of Nissan’s DNA and heritage. Nissan continues to support our LEAF drivers with the continued installation of CHAdeMO connectors at fast chargers throughout the US.  We cannot comment further on plans for CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles at this time.

So, unfortunately, it doesn't look like Leaf owners will get an official CCS and CHAdeMO adapter anytime soon. 

Nissan LEAF fast charging (CHAdeMO) at EVgo

The existing unsanctioned CCS to CHAdeMO adapters are not cheap. The one in the video above costs around $1,000, not including shipping. I suppose that in Norway, where there are proportionally fewer CHAdeMO stations but more CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles, this tool could be worth the price, adding more utility to an older vehicle. However, in the United States and Canada, the only CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles are the Nissan Leaf, and the slow-selling Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Kia Soul EV.  The adapter could be a boon to newer long-range Nissan Leaf owners, but given the price and the big question mark about the device’s safety, I’m not sure if I’d take that chance. 

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