Electric-Car Fast-Charging Networks: Competition Heats Up

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Nissan Leaf at eVgo Freedom Station Daly City, California

Nissan Leaf at eVgo Freedom Station Daly City, California

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It's always interesting to reporters when a news story produces unsolicited counterpoints from affected parties.

Yesterday's announcement of the agreement among BMW, Volkswagen, and ChargePoint to install roughly 100 electric-car DC fast-charging stations by the end of the year spawned two separate e-mails from competitors.

DON'T MISS: BMW, VW, And ChargePoint To Build 100 CCS Fast-Charging Sites For Electric Cars

Those stations will provide quick charging to cars that use the Combined Charging Standard (CCS): currently the BMW i3, Chevrolet Spark EV, and Volkswagen e-Golf. (Some will also include charging via the CHAdeMO protocol used in the Nisssan Leaf and Kia Soul EV as well.)

Those two DC fast-charging protocols are now accepted standards; there's also the higher-power Supercharger system operated by Tesla Motors, which is usable solely by the Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan.

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

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The first response was from Nissan, and it came fully 24 hours before the Washington Auto Show press conference at which VW and BMW joined ChargePoint to announce the CCS station program.

Nissan notes that it has a " multi-pronged strategy to invest with charging partners to install quick charging" for Nissan Leaf owners "in the communities where they live and work, as well as at corporate workplaces and Nissan dealerships."

ALSO SEE: Future Volkswagen Plug-Ins Will All Have CCS Fast-Charging

As of this month, Nissan says, there are more than 800 DC quick-charging stations using the CHAdeMO protocol in the U.S.--against 160 in January 2013.

The total is expected to rise to 1,100 by April 1--and more than 1,700 a year after that, by April 1, 2016.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

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Access to quick charging "increases our owner satisfaction and gets more buyers to consider the benefits of an all-electric car,” said Nissan’s director of electric vehicle sales and infrastructure deployment, Brendan Jones.

A second response came about an hour after the BMW-VW-ChargePoint announcement, this one from NRG, the energy company that operates the evGo network of electric-car charging sites.

MORE: Europe Storms Ahead On CCS Fast Charging, U.S. Lags Behind

EvGo is the "largest national network of fast chargers," NRG pointed out, "with 245 total in the nation, stretching from California to Washington, D.C."

It also has locations in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Virginia, and Maryland as well.

Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego.

Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego.

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The evGo network will be expanded in Tennessee this year, and along major north-south corridors on both the East Coast (Boston to Miami) and the West Coast (Seattle to San Diego).

It's important for owners of electric cars to note that an increasing number of DC fast-charging sites for electric cars are "dual" or "combo" stations, with one cable for CHAdeMO cars and another for CCS vehicles.

In many cases, municipal and state governments require such sites to provide charging for "all global standard" protocols for fast-charging--meaning CHAdeMO and CCS, but not Supercharger (which is Tesla's alone).

Competition is good.

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