Since electric vehicles began to be commercially available in Australia, there have been two main DC fast charging standards used on vehicles and on DC fast chargers: CHAdeMO and CCS2.
It would be fair to say that these two standards were in fierce competition at one point and CCS1 even made a brief appearance. However, CCS2 has been used on almost every EV sold in Australia today, including Teslas, motorcycles, and even city buses.
CHAdeMO, being a standard developed by a Japanese consortium, was deployed on early Japanese EVs like the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and the Mitsubishi i-MIEV. It is a well thought out design and, as many know, it has had bi-directional capability from the beginning.
I am able to locate just four car models on the Australian market that have CHAdeMO fast charging today: the Nissan LEAF (331 sold in 2022), the Lexus UX300e (82 sold), the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV (926 sold) and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (303 sold).
Curiously, unlike a lot of PHEV models which only provide slower AC charging, the Mitsubishi PHEV models include a CHAdeMO port for rapid charging of the relatively small capacity battery.
However, even the Japanese manufacturers are starting to move away from CHAdeMO, at least outside Japan. The new Lexus UX300e model has CCS. Elsewhere in the world, the Toyota BZ4X uses CCS, as does the Subaru Solterra and the Nissan Ariya.
If the Ariya is ever sold in Australia, it will almost certainly be CCS as well. In 2022, a total of 1,642 vehicles were sold with CHAdeMO ports in Australia (three quarters of these being PHEVs which can more successfully manage without fast charging).
Clearly, vehicles fitted with CHAdeMO are fast becoming a minority.
Why not buy an adapter?
It is a bit of a misconception that it’s possible to buy a CHAdeMO to CCS2 adapter. There is no passive device available that would work because CHAdeMO and CCS2 are functionally quite different.
To give just one example, CHAdeMO and CCS2 differs as to whether the car or the charger physically locks the plug to the car. In CCS2, the car drives a pin through a hole in the plug to lock the plug to the car.
In CHAdeMO, the charger locks the handle to the car (as some drivers have discovered when they find that they can’t unplug from a misbehaving charger). It is almost certainly possible to build an adapter to actively sit between a CHAdeMO vehicle and a CCS2 charger, but it is likely to be bulky, expensive, and require some power for its operation.
Charging network response
The charging networks understand this trend as well. It is now common to see new charging stations with several stalls of CCS2 charging. There is an impressive 10-stall charging station at Nuriootpa, South Australia with nine CCS2 plugs and one CHAdeMO plug.
A new charging station at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra has five CCS2 plugs and one CHAdeMO plug. As modern fast chargers can share power between two plugs, it’s advantageous to fast charge your CCS2 vehicle on the one charger with a CHAdeMO plug because it is so much less likely to be occupied during your charging session!
The response of the charging networks to go from having a CHAdeMO plug on every charger to much less than this is completely logical. It did not matter so much when chargers were providing “connector A” or “connector B”, but now, with power sharing chargers, a CHAdeMO plug is a liability. This is a plug that can’t be used to sell kilowatt-hours to another CCS2 customer.
Should we leave this to the market?
It’s clear that before long (if not already), the rational thing for charging networks to do is to install CCS2-only stations. What they lose in CHAdeMO customers they will easily make up with CCS2 customers.
This presents some tricky equity questions to tackle, though. In cities, there are quite a few people of more modest means driving older, second-hand, and possibly grey imported Japanese vehicles who have no place of their own to AC charge. They rely more on fast charging in public places. If the CHAdeMO plugs fade away, they are high and dry.
There is an argument that, for the time being, there should be some kind of policy intervention such as requiring a fraction of plugs at grant funded charging stations to be CHAdeMO.
In its recommendations for public charging, the ACT branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association currently recommends that a conservative 25% of DC fast charging plugs in the ACT be CHAdeMO. This figure is likely to be lowered in the future to 10% or 5% as the number of chargers grows and these older Japanese vehicles reach the end of their service life and leave the fleet.
It is time to start planning for a world without CHAdeMO.
Ben Elliston is the chair of the ACT branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association. The views expressed in this article are his own and not necessarily those of AEVA. Ben thanks Riz Akhtar for providing the 2022 vehicle sales figures.