Range Confidence: Charge Fast, Drive Far, with your Electric Car

By David Herron

Fast charge adapters are possible, but how many really need CHAdeMO-CCS adapters?

There are at least four kinds of DC Fast Charging systems in existence, CHAdeMO, ComboCharging System, Tesla Supercharger and at least Chinese system. In the U.S. and Europe the first three are competing for market share dominance, since the SAE standards process failed to develop a DC fast charging standard that was acceptable to all the electric car manufacturers. An obvious product that’s theoretically needed are adapter cord sets to convert from one fast charging protocol to another.

Just like international travelers carry adapters for the electrical outlets they’ll find while traveling, electric car owners might need an adapter to match the DC fast charging port on their car with existing public charging stations.

At the time this is written (Sept 2015) the strongest need is for owners of cars with ComboCharging System (CCS) ports to use a CHAdeMO charging station. Cars with CCS ports are still at an early stage of adoption, as is the CCS charging station infrastructure. With an app like PlugShare, one can readily see that fewer CCS charging station deployments exist than CHAdeMO stations. Therefore a CHAdeMO-to-CCS adapter would help owners of those cars, at this time.

There is exactly one DC Fast Charging adapter on the market – the CHAdeMO adapter for the Tesla Model S and Model X. It allows owners of those cars to use CHAdeMO charging stations. The price is $450 for the unit alone, or $1,900 if your Model S also needs to be enabled for fast charging support.

The question is – whether a CHAdeMO-to-CCS or CCS-to-CHAdeMO adapter would be useful or desired by enough electric car owners to make either a viable product. A Tesla-CCS or Tesla-CHAdeMO adapter would also be useful, but would require cooperation with Tesla Motors.

Implementation

Implementation of such an adapter breaks down as so:

  1. Input — either CHAdeMO or CCS input socket
  2. Output — either CCS or CHAdeMO output connector
    1. An alternate output side is to connect directly to the internal wiring
  3. Interface — computer control to interact with the appropriate charging protocol on input and output.

Every DC Fast charging system has two pins for the DC power supply. These would pass straight through from input socket to output connector, and with a contactor in the middle to disconnect when needed.

Now that we’ve shown it’s feasible, and what’s required, can we estimate the product cost?

Estimating price of a fast charging adapter

QuickChargePower has developed a product, JdeMo, that adds a CHAdeMO interface to the Gen2 Toyota RAV4 EV. This product has a CHAdeMO inlet for the input side, and on the output side wires directly to the RAV4 internal wiring. The cost is $2,499 and it appears there’s an installation fee in addition.

Why is that price so much more than the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter? I’d suggest sales volume. QCP is selling the bare CHAdeMO inlet by itself for $799, which is a lot more than Tesla’s price for the whole adapter. The only way this makes sense is if Tesla Motors gets a hefty discount on parts by buying in larger quantity than can QCP.

In any case, it suggests the price for a CHAdeMO-to-CCS (or vice versa) adapter will depend on the size of the company making the product. QCP is a small operation, and the total possible market for the JdeMo is under 2,500 units because that’s the total number of RAV4 EV’s which were built. A large company, like a charging station maker, could surely come in at a lower price by buying parts in higher volume.

At a guess, the cost would end somewhere between $450 and $2,499 …

Another sort of adapter product needed in the market is a fast charging interface for the cars which don’t have them at all. The JdeMo for RAV4 EV is an example. Off the top of my head, some other cars which could use a similar product are the Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Mercedez-Benz B-Class, and Smart ED. Most of those cars sell at a very low volume, making them unattractive for developing an adapter product.

Will you need an adapter?

A trend is forming in the charging infrastructure to deploy charging stations supporting both CHAdeMO and CCS standards. This way owners of either kind of car can arrive at a fast charging station and use the cord appropriate to their car.

The more dual protocol charging stations are installed, the less need there will be for adapters.

One needs such an adapter if they can only find the wrong sort of fast charging station in their region. For example, a CCS car owner whose region only has CHAdeMO fast charging stations. But if most fast charging stations support both CHAdeMO and CCS, that CCS car owner will be able to get a fast charge.

This suggests few companies will see an incentive to develop fast charging adapters.

Fast charge adapters are possible, but how many really need CHAdeMO-CCS adapters?

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