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Electric-Car Fast-Charging Networks: Nissan CHAdeMO Vs Tesla Supercharger

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Nissan Leaf using CHAdeMO fast-charger

Nissan Leaf using CHAdeMO fast-charger

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It's easy to forget how young the current electric vehicle market is.

Of the cars on sale today, none were launched before 2010. It's easy too to forget how at that time, a unified fast-charging standard was far from being agreed upon.

Today, there are over 3,500 CHAdeMO fast-chargers worldwide (Inside EVs), and the market is finally approaching some kind of standard for topping up your electric car as quickly as possible. Well, for some automakers at least.

Launched in Japan, it's no surprise that the CHADdeMO standard works with two of the longest-running electric vehicles, Nissan's Leaf and Mitsubishi's i-MiEV.

But if you own a Tesla Model S, you'll already be used to Tesla's own proprietary Supercharger arrangement, and the countrywide charging stations that come with it.

The opening of a true cross-country route has allowed several owners to drive from coast-to-coast already, and represents a breakthrough in the way electric cars can be used.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Patents Prepare For Common Cross-Country Electric-Car Travel Via Supercharger

Not only are the stations convenient (and the Tesla Model S endowed with a long enough range to make such trips much easier) but they're also free to use for Model S owners--not something that can always be said of CHAdeMO and its compatible vehicles.

But arguably, CHAdeMO is more important--not least because most electric vehicle drivers aren't able to use Tesla's swish Superchargers.

That's reflected in the numbers. Of the 3,500 global CHAdeMO installations, 554 are located in the United States. By comparison, Tesla's website currently lists 74 stations active in the U.S.--though more are planned for near-total coverage of the country over the next year or two.

Japan and Europe still dominate with CHAdeMO coverage, however. As of January, reports Charged EVs, there were 1,967 CHAdeMO stations in Japan and over 1,000 in Europe.

Some are sounding the death knell for CHAdeMO in Europe though, since several popular electric cars--the Renault Zoe, Twizy and Kangoo, BMW's i3, the Smart Electric Drive--don't use the standard. Nor--unsurprisingly--does the recently-launched Tesla Model S, nor the upcoming Volkswagen e-Up.

Tesla is already rolling out the Supercharger network in Europe--14 stations are currently up and running, and most of Europe's major corridors should be 'Supercharged' by the end of 2014.

For the time being at least, it means we'll still see several different types of fast-charging available to electric car users.

But the important take-away from this is that fast charging is growing in the U.S. and abroad--and that can only be a good thing for the electric car industry.

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