GM, BMW Complete Testing Of New CCS Quick-Charging Stations For Electric Cars

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SAE Combo connector in 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV prototype, Sausalito, CA, Nov 2012

SAE Combo connector in 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV prototype, Sausalito, CA, Nov 2012

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General Motors and BMW announced on Tuesday that they had jointly completed testing new quick-charging equipment for plug-in electric cars.

The charging stations, cables, and plugs were built to the new Combined Charging Standard (CCS) specification adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Each maker will soon roll out a battery-electric car that accepts CCS-based DC fast charging.

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV will reach the first dealers in California sometime this month, while the 2014 BMW i3 is expected to arrive at initial BMW dealerships in January.

'Unprecedented cooperation'

The tests, said BMW and GM, covered a variety of charging stations from several vendors. They are meant to "accelerate efforts to roll out SAE Combo DC Fast Charge infrastructure in the coming months."

GM's Britta Gross called the combined efforts to develop the CCS specifications and hardware an "unprecedented cooperation among [carmakers] and equipment suppliers."

The CCS equipment competes directly with the CHAdeMO quick-charging standard already installed and working for Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars.

It also competes with the Tesla Supercharger system, available only to owners of Tesla Model S luxury electric sport sedans.

Incompatible standards

The three systems are not interoperable, although Tesla plans to offer a CHAdeMO adapter in certain Asian markets.

While CHAdeMO charging systems have a few years' lead time in U.S. installations--largely due to efforts by Nissan to support its aggressive rollout of the Leaf and other battery-electric vehicles--both U.S. and German automakers have lined up solidly behind the CCS standard.

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J-1772

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J-1772

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That standard uses a single plug that combines both the existing "J-1772" plug for 240-Volt Level 2 charging with pins for more powerful direct-current fast charging.

CCS proponents argue that using the same basic communications protocols for both Level 2 and fast charging simplifies the design of electric cars, as does having a single charging port that can accept either a J-1772 or a CCS cable.

CCS to dominate in U.S.?

Most analysts expect that the CCS standard will come to dominate fast charging in North America and Europe.

Japan, however, is expected to stick with the extensive CHAdeMO infrastructure already up and running.

Universal electric car charging system

Universal electric car charging system

Enlarge Photo

Carmakers that have signed up to adopt the CCS fast-charging equipment include Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

The video below, produced by GM, argues the case for the CCS standard.

It should be noted that, at the moment, there are almost no commercially operating CCS quick-charging stations in the U.S.

That situation will change as the cars enter the market and the combined group of carmakers starts to push for installations.

For reference, there were almost no CHAdeMO stations operating in December 2010, when the first Nissan Leafs were sold, either.


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Comments (37)
  1. Man, that is one ugly looking plug. Not sure how I'd feel using that in public...

  2. Folks, you may want to have your children avert their eyes, he he.

  3. I don't have a problem with it, saves space vs having 2 separate receptacles behind a big door vs. 1 behind a smaller one.. Tesla's connector looks much nicer tho, and AFAICR the SAE max power is 90kW, which Tesla's going to be trumping at 120kW shortly. I wonder how many meetings, addenda, votes and compliance tests will need to be carried out for SAE to upgrade their standard before Tesla just makes theirs 200kW?

  4. If it's ugly and it charges your car up in 15 minutes, it's not that ugly.

  5. Teslas wat of feding both dc or ac threw the same plug (type 2 plugg in european models) seems much more space eficient. And it looks better..

  6. LOL, looks better, ha ha, yeah I'll say. I read the part about US makers pushing for the CCS. And wondered who pushes to make their cars more complicated, more expensive and uglier? Did something crawl inside of them and make the stupid? Oh well, design by committee has never been the best application of talents.

  7. @Jeff: Uglier is in the eye of the beholder, but how is the CCS plug "more complicated" and "more expensive" than the combination of a separate J-1772 and a separate CHAdeMO? Curious about your assertion there.

  8. @John, imagine you're a manufacturer designing an EV to be sold in 3 markets: US, Europe, and Asia/Japan.

    With CHAdeMO: connector, electronics etc are all the same worldwide. Beyond easier development, a single set of parts also means higher volumes, more competing suppliers, simpler logistics.

    With SAE CCS, one already needs to design in two variants, US and Europe, and this still doesn't cover Asia: Japan obviously will require CHAdeMO anyway. Extra, needless complexity indeed.

    Which of the two situations would you think results in lower manufacturing costs?

    Furthermore, trying to include SAE CCS in a quick-chargers roll-out would both delay it and make it significantly more expensive. Maybe that's exactly SAE's goal...

  9. @Just O: Yep, a 2nd plug + electronics adds development costs.

    But I suspect it costs less than complying with myriad other regulations that vary among regions on crash-safety standards, airbags, lighting, pedestrian impact protection & so forth.

    Automakers don't like those variations, but they're a cost of doing business.

    CCS is also a superset of J-1772, which makers have to fit ANYWAY. N America + Europe volumes will grow far higher in the next decade than Japan. So while I don't have actual cost comparisons, I suspect CCS in its two variants will end up cheaper when volumes arrive.

    Did US + Euro makers like the idea of roadblocking an existing standard? They'll never admit it, LOL

  10. The fact is that CCS is actually simplier. Maybe NOT good looking.

    The one major part of the CCS is to leverage the communication signal used on the standard J1772 plug. And the port hole is actually smaller than the DC quick charger combined with J1772 on the Nissan.

  11. Regular J1772 and CCS signaling are actually completely different: one uses a very simple handshake on a dedicated pilot line (the EVSE indicates its max current via PWM, the car signals whether it wants power by connecting a resistor of a certain value), the other relies on vastly more complex powerline communication.

    Obviously a vehicle can be designed to support both protocols, but if anything, having them land on the same inlet actually makes things slightly more complicated, not simpler.

    This minor difficulty for the manufacturer is IMHO insignificant compared to the unnecessary confusion and frustration that these proposed additional connectors are bound to cause to some users though...

  12. Actually neither communication is all that complex. But the point was that it didn't need a seperate set of communication lines. Not to mention that the charge port is more compact on the vehicle.

  13. Thanks for the information on the communication protocols. Very interesting.

  14. "It should be noted that, at the moment, there are almost no commercially operating CCS quick-charging stations in the U.S." Looks like they've got everybody covered.

  15. That is pretty cool. I downloaded that app on to my Google Nexus 7.
    So perhaps there is one, and only on, CCS in operation today versus perhaps 100 ChaDemo.
    But the ChaDemo installations are very regional. We have Zero ChaDemo installations in New England. So CCS and ChaDemo are about the same for me, non-existent.

    Of course, if you live in silicon valley, Tennessee Valley, or SoCal, than ChaDemo is a big advantage.

  16. the infrastructure that supports a ChaDeMo charger will also support a CCS charger, and i suspect they are working on stations that will have a CCS and ChaDeMo cord on them. much as a gas pump has 3 hoses for 87 to 93 octane.

  17. It makes no sense to install a very expensive DC fast charger that can't serve all three of these standards. It wouldn't add much to the cost of a charger to have three cords with three different connectors and the necessary control electronics. The expensive part of the charger is the electrical service required and the power electronics used.

  18. That is the plan of companies like ECOtality and that company in Arizona. Put different line cards in so that the same charger can talk SAE-CCS and CHAdeMO. It sounds like Tesla is willing to license their charging technology to car companies as well.

  19. Hmm, while a subset of the companies building quick-chargers have indeed announced "dual-standard" models, I'm not aware of ECOtality/Blink being one of them.

    The hardware used by other big players (ChargePoint, NRG/eVgo, CarCharging) comes from AeroVironment, FujiElectric and Sumitomo/Nissan. Those companies also do CHAdeMO only, and as far as I known, haven't hinted at implementing anything else.

    Is there some announcement that I (and GCR) missed?

  20. It should also be noted that there are two version of Combo plug… an EU, and an US version. A photo of EU version (using Mennekes Combo, vs. US J1772 Combo) appears here:

    Both SAE & IEC are working to finalize harmonization of their standards for this fall:

  21. I like the CCS charger it looks fine and with so many multi billion dollar manufacturers behind it charge locations should start to pop up pretty fast. It's also interesting to see who's supporting it, we know which vehicles will have it first from BMW and GM but what about the others? What is Porsche working on, the Boxster E perhaps? Hmm.

  22. It's not about the size of the manufacturer, it about how many EVs they sell. Nissan might not be the biggest, but they sell more EVs and all the other BEV manufacturers combined, excluding Tesla of course. That effectively makes CHAdeMO the standard IMO. What car manufacturers / charge point producers need to do, is ensure that they can cater for any car/charger, the only way to do this is through adapters (at least for now).

  23. The mentioned brands will use their power to get CCS up and running its in their interests to do so. Just because the Leaf arrived first and more of them exist at the moment doesn't mean ChadeMO will come out on top. There are eight major brands listed above that support CCS and you think one major brand with one electric car is enough. I wouldn't place your bet on ChadeMO just yet, the odds could be stacked against it.

  24. I agree. If Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen all start doing what Nissan is doing by pushing their dealers to install the CCS chargers at their dealership, then the tide will turn over night...

    Nissan (and Mitsubishi) is alone on this one with their DC quick charger...

  25. It may even be a similar case like Tesla's Supercharger network, Tesla realizes that a fast charging network is important to make sales. And I'm sure the CCS supporting companies realize this as well and will similarly push to install stations.

  26. None of those companies pushing SAE CCS except BMW has plan to sell any EV in volume in the US for the foreseeable future, so their interest lie more in stalling than helping the movement.

    Should one rather ignore this IMHO important detail, and just count by brand, or maybe company to keep the list manageable:
    CHAdeMO members include all Japanese manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Daihatsu, Isuzu) as well as PSA Peugeot Citroën, Volvo, BYD, Micro-Vett and Zero motorcycles.


  27. I realize there are a few ChadeMO fans that are upset here, I'm not trying to predict which standard will succeed over the other, but like Tesla we could see car brands push the installation of rapid charging stations. Especially when it comes to the brands supporting CCS, in the US Nissan seems to be the only company supporting ChadeMO, Midsubishi may use it but the i isn't very popular anyway.

  28. @Just O: You're entirely right that TODAY, only Nissan and BMW have volume plans for plug-in vehicles.

    But by 2020, *all* of the makers supporting CCS will have to sell significant volumes of plug-ins to meet carbon reduction/fuel efficiency goals in N America, Europe, Japan, and China.

    This is not about today. It's about 2020 and thereafter.

  29. @ John Voelcker: I actually believe that CCS MAY well make it over the long term. However history is rarely kind to people who turn up to the party late, when it comes to standards anyway. By the time these manufacturers are selling cars (in volume) with CCS plugs, in all likelihood, either CHAdeMO will be everywhere, or there will be a next generation of CCS plug created to keep up with advances in technology (Tesla). Or perhaps a completely new entrant to the plug space!

    What I'm saying is, you should only base your car purchase / plug decision on what is currently installed or likely to be installed in the next three months. Everything else is just hot air!

    On the upside in the UK CHAdeMO is everywhere (relatively). :)

  30. This is ridiculous having 2 or more standards. There should be compatibility between the standards not have proprietary charging systems. That is counter productive.

  31. I own a 2013 Chevy Volt. How does this affect me? This thing wont plug into my Volt. Is there an adapter??

  32. Your Volt cannot be fast charged, so it has no relevance to you whatsoever. Your Volt can take 110 or 220 and that's it. And it's also just fine for the Volt, since you have a gas engine.

    (By way of disclosure, there's a new Volt in my garage.)

  33. Thanks! I have found that Volt owners are the most honest about their cars. We just want to know all the facts, no matter where it leads. So far for me, everyday I learn something new and great about the car.

  34. I love it when OEMs play nicely together. Consumer/EV smile.

  35. I'm much more interested interested in what they do than what they talk about. Nissan is actually installing their chargers pretty widely now, and Tesla is way ahead with solid plans and seems to understand their customers better than anyone (e.g. installing chargers near things people would want to stop at anyway, rather than at a dealer).

    Based on their history, I don't really trust the American car makers to listen to their customers or be forward thinking on EV infrastructure. I hope they prove me wrong and can make the paradigm shift, but I'm not holding my breath for it.

  36. New Cadi ELR ready to use the set up ?

  37. No. But the new Chevy Spark EV will have it.

    ELR has an engine for range extension...

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