Op-Ed: Why There’s Always A Line At CHAdeMO Chargers

MAY 2 2014 BY MICHAEL BEINENSON 26

Nissan LEAFs And An Atlanta DC Fast Charging Station

Lots Of Nissan LEAFs Hanging Out At An Atlanta DC Fast Charging Station

Lack of DC Fast Charing In Metro Atlanta

Lack of DC Fast Charging In Metro Atlanta

CHAdeMO standard has been making fantastic progress across the world. With 592 stations currently in the United States, it is by far the best success story in DC fast charging. But what do we have in reality? Is it really a useful and reliable concept for EV drivers to use?

Let’s take Metro Atlanta for Example. Since the 2013 Nissan LEAF began selling with record numbers, many dealers pushed S and SV trims with DC fast charging (SL comes standard), or let’s just use Nissan’s language DCQC (Direct Current Quick Charge(r)). But for the longest time this town did not see a single fast charger. There was a ton of discussions where the first one might go and local EV club posts about DCQCs would explode on Facebook with 200+ comments.

Finally in September of 2013 the first DCQC charger began to deliver Direct Current. It was a big celebration with Nissan executives cutting the ribbon with media present. (The actual first DCQC was at a dealer in Roswell, GA, but it did not gain as much attention as this one).

First DC Fast Charger Finally Arrives!

First DC Fast Charger Finally Arrives!

Finally DCFC Markers Hit The Map

Finally DCFC Markers Hit The Map

So naturally, everyone was excited. All of the sudden the phrase “range anxiety” was no longer part of the EV lexicon. Personally owning a business that requires driving around town and meeting with clients/prospects, this was would mean freedom from any gas stations!

And it worked for a few months, until more and more people began to realize the same logistical advantages as I have. Sure, at that point we had a few more chargers around town.

But that is when the reality hit hard. All those LEAFs with DCQC option, found the chargers on PlugShare and Recargo.

Fantastic right? Well, if you ever required a charge and there was 1 person in front of you, sure that is just fine. But if you now have 3 people waiting to juice up and you must pick up your daughter from school. I can tell you the whole “range anxiety” just turns into “I will not get there in time” anxiety.

Look at this picture (below) This is a typical gathering at the most central location in Metro Atlanta at Atlantic Station.

Behold The Line

Behold The Line

Why write this article? It is time to address why CHAdeMO is obsolete.

Typical Tesla Supercharging Station

Typical Tesla Supercharging Station

It is not that it is a bad standard or does not work well. It is just that we only have ONE cable to share. Take example Tesla’s deployment strategy for Superchargers. Depending on the location there are between 4 and 8 stalls.  What does it mean? Well at least there is capacity. And with 130 kWh standard vs. 50 kWh for CHAdeMO there is a lot more juice being delivered in a shorter period of time.

And this will get even more challenging. With KIA SOUL EV due out shortly with CHAdeMO standard and Tesla CHAdeMO adapter (it is on a rolling 6 months “coming soon” release), there is not going to be enough connections to accommodate the Metro Atlanta EV drivers.

All the talk about “chicken before the egg” is now out of the window. We have the cars, in fact the best guess on Nissan LEAFs in metro Atlanta is about 4,000, but now we need more chargers and more connectors and lots of them. Otherwise range anxiety will turn into “I cannot rely on DCQCs to plan my commute!”

What do you see around your community?

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26 Comments on "Op-Ed: Why There’s Always A Line At CHAdeMO Chargers"

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This is an absolute idiotic post, unworthy of this website.

If your argument is that there aren’t enough cords with CHAdeMO, then I guess there needs to be more then, eh? Adding more CHAdeMO stations fixes the problem.

If your argument is that 50kW isn’t enough power, that’s because you don’t know that CHAdeMO is actually 62.5kW, and designed for 100kW.

The “50kW” (which is actually about 47kW in a LEAF) is a limitation of the car, not the charger.

I determined today that chocolate is obsolete, because I couldn’t eat them fast enough and the store only had one box of chocolates, and I wanted two.

Brilliant stuff here.

Agreed

Great article … but “CHAdeMO Standrd Obsolute?” is not the right tittle … should be “Where are the CHAdeMO Charging Stations?” There are currently 200,000 PEVs in U.S. (PluginAmerica.com) of which ~50,000 are Nissan Leaf’s and 25,000+ and Tesla Model S’s … both capable of DCFC via CHAdeMO. As noted (above) there are 592 single charger DC EVSE that can potentially be used 75,000 now … in reallity over 125,000 by this year-end as Tesla CHAdeMO Adaptor comes out of beta, and EV sales continue to accelerate. This compares to the 89 U.S. Tesla Supercharger (SC) stations (with ~540 charging stalls) servicing ~25,000 Model S’s. Question should be “what is a reasonable number of EVs a DCFC charging stall can support?” – Model S @ SC: 25000/540 = ~46 – Leaf @ CHAdeMO: 50000/592 = ~84 – Leaf & Model S @ CHAdeMO: 75000/592 = ~127 In Dec 2014 (assuming +25k Leafs & + 150 DCFC) – Leaf @ CHAdeMO: 75000/740 = ~101 BTW: the 25,000+ Leaf’s sold beyond April 1st will have FREE charging for two years via Nissan’s EZ Charging Card program. So expect demand at your local DC e-juice station to double starting July 1st! While many… Read more »

… to clarify, meant to write “great point”, not “great article” … in that there are not enough CHAdeMO charging points for the number of EVs.

The issue is even great, after business hours when many DCFC are not accessable.

I don’t very much like Chademo as a standard (it’s bulky and a totally separate connector from L2, for no reason), but in this case I think the problem is the short range EVs and not the chargers. If all those Leafs had 150 mile ranges, then you would have probably 80% fewer people using the same stations.

Counter-counter point, if the Leafs had 150 mile range, then the location of most Chademo chargers would be totally useless. Very few people would need them in the middle of the city. They would be on the highways between cities instead.

A bigger battery does solve a lot of the problem (the Tesla solution) . . . but it puts it out of the price range of a lot of people.

But Nissan should at least start offering somewhat bigger batteries now that a few years have gone by and batteries should be a little cheaper.

What the hell did I just read? A standard is obsolete because too many people want to use it?

But, to address your actual concern: I’m assuming that charger is free? Make it $5 a charge and watch that line disappear. The sad fact about early Leaf adopters is that most of them are cheaper than dirt and will cut off their own arm for 87 cents in free electricity. Attach a small fee to public charging and everyone who doesn’t need it will charge at home and leave it for people who actually need it to get where they are going. We have about 6 quick chargers in Portland. Two are free and you’ll never be able to use one of them. The other 4, though, are always available and ready to use when you need them. They are great.

I’ve modified the title. The obsolete point being made is that, instead of being set up like Tesla’s Supercharger where one main power hook up results in 4 to 8 plugs (expandable if more are required in the future) for EVs, CHAdeMO and even CCS use a single unit to charge one EV. So, unless there willing to put several CHAdeMO chargers at a site, there will soon be lines at all of them.

Even the first Supercharger was a single stall and plug.

The charging standard has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do will how many there are.

I wouldn’t be so sure. The supercharger protocol is still being dissected over at TMC, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the protocol has split charging support built in.

For CHAdeMO, I’ve seen dual connector stations, but they can only charge one car at a time.

Er, why would you need support from the car to handle any of this??

The vehicle requests X, the QC provides what it can up to that limit, simple as that.
Agreed with TW, on this and the other points he made.

The protocol has nothing to do with how many vehicles can be charged simultaneously, as those guys can demonstrate: http://www.fastned.nl/en

+1

I live in Atlanta. I agree that we need more Chademo chargers. For now the issue that I most commonly find is that Leaf owners are charged past 80% and leave their cars unattended. I’ve personally seen a leaf left unattended for over 2 hours at Atlantic Station and it was fully charged when I got there. It was plugged up and taking up the level 3 parking space. So yeah we need more chargers but the people are also an issue too.

The title for this article is way off

I saw the headline “Is the CHAdeMO standard obsolete?” then while I was reading saw the headline was changed to something about lines as CHAdeMO chargers.

Let’s consider that a lesson learned from InsideEVs staff – and we really appreciate this website so you definitely get some slack on mistakes like this.

But a mistake it was. I was envisioning headlines such as “Is the Earth-is-Round Theory Obsolete?”

This piece actually did not come from the staff at the site, and it’s tagged as an “op-ed”, but we do understand your point and why the title was perhaps misguided.

Why not put up a sign that says “1 Hour Only” ?

Or charge $5 for the first 1/2 hour and $25 for every 1/2 hour after that.

The whole public charging concept in cities is so backwards.

Why would a person buy an EV that can charge/fuel up at home at the cheapest rates, and then still plan to search for a ‘station’ to fuel up every day away from home, as if they don’t have a ‘gas’ station in their own garage?

I say let them stack up in lines at the ‘gas’ station like sheep, paying about double for the ‘fuel’ than they can get at home until they wake up and break the ICE fueling habit.

There are just two very simple rules for the daily commuter EV owner:

1. ONLY buy/lease an EV with enough power for twice your daily round trip commute or more.

2. ONLY charge at home at the lowest rates, no lines, no waiting.

Please quit that “gas-station” mentality. Of course most EV buyers will charge at home. What you and Michael Beinenson fail to see, is that this doesn’t make urban quick-chargers any less useful: it makes EVs affordable. I have a Leaf. If there was no QC around, I’d need to always keep some margin for unexpected errands (e.g. pick a sick kid from school, etc), leaving maybe 20% of my battery permanently unused. I’d be limited to one significant drive per day, ie commute OR night with friends (not enough time to recharge between the two). I’d have to plan ahead much more. Fortunately, QC exist near the places I live/work/go, and indeed that’s where I’ve used them so far, not for long-distance travel. Nearby QCs give me two very important things: 1) Peace of mind. I can get close to empty without worry getting stranded or just unable to respond to a change of plan. 2) Freedom. I’m not restricted to “one commute + 20 miles” per day, or anything like this. For a modest amount of inconvenience, I can go wherever I please. The alternative, much larger batteries, would be dramatically more expensive — and very wasteful in my… Read more »

Looks like a business opportunity.
Charge $X/per kWh.
Have a person onsite who rotates the cars as necessary while the owners do their business.

So a customer could pull up and say “Fill’er up!” or “80%”, then toss the keys and go shopping or whatever.

Maybe even offer a car-wash, or vacuuming service.

Just thinking out loud…

Charging for a Quick Charge, at just $5 is both reasonable and logical to control the Freeloaders! Putting in a sliding scale – of 10 minutes for Free; 30 Minutes for $5; 60 minutes for $20; and two hours for $50, might keep the Freddy Freeloaders and the lines, under control!

Also – put in some 40 Amp Clipper Creek/SunCountryHighway Level 2 chargers in number about 2 to 1 on the DC QC’s: 1 DC QC = 2 Level 2’s on site; 2 DC QC’s = 4 Level 2’s on site, etc.

Often – if your LEAF has a Low Battery – 10 minutes puts in the juice at a high rate, and after you reach about 75% it is slowed down to about the same as the 6.6 Charger anyway – so going to a level 2 to finish off the charge – allows the lineup to move along!

Wait – there are a lot of unemployed in Atlanta, give them a Job as an EV Charging Control Jockey at CHAdeMO sites!!

An egg finally arrived and it was crushed by too many chickens. 🙂

You guys are just too far behind on your infrastructure deployment. We have over 100 DCQCs here in Oregon and I have never seen the line more than one (attended) car long.

Also, if you are using a DCQC for your daily commute or taking kids to school, you are driving far more than the average person. Workplace charging might be a better alternative.

Trying to use a Nissan LEAF where you should be using a Tesla Model S might also be part of the problem! Like – using a Mini-Van as a Pickup or Vice-Versa! (Versa – get it! 🙂 Take the EPA / MFG Rated Mileage – Multiply by 70%, and your commute should be that or less, if you want to go Electric as a BEV! Then – Workplace Charging – should be 120V Primarily – with just 16 Amp Level 2 for those that really require it; and – it should be with an applied for an approved Security Sticker, with payment – just as if you were at home, with a higher pay for the level 2 versus a Level 1 source, also by approved permission sticker! ‘Charge Rage’ is when too many people think they need 30 Amp Level 2 from work, for Free, and they get too many cars with no regard for the challenges of installing work place charging. This can also be solved by – application to access Workplace EV charging – just like an approved parking sticker, but with Approvals for Level 1 only; or for Level 2 or level 1! Then there is… Read more »

Talk about too few DC Quick Chargers – Ontario, Canada – has finally made it to 2 locations, about 3 blocks apart, and those are strictly the OEM’s Respective Head office Sites! None on freeway service center’s – unlike Chicago or Oregon,etc; None in Malls, None at Arena’s, etc! With 14 Million Population in the province – and 5 Million in the Greater Toronto Area – and still just 2 Quick chargers! Pitiful!

I think part of the problem is that the Leaf drivers in ATL got the cars for free with a 2 yr lease and the $5,000 state tax credit. They didn’t carefully consider range and requirements before buying the car.

In my office, there are 4 Blink stations and the same 4-6 Leafs suckling off them every day. Often they are so rude as to park there with the cord plugged in with the EVSE not activated.

The real problem is not the standard. The problem is that the way the stations are being deployed. The model of one charger with one plug is obsolete. Definitely agree that more chargers per location are needed. I would much rather have 2 43kW stations than 1 60kW station. Then two cars can charge at one, and/or there is a backup for when (not if) the station breaks.