It’s been one of Tesla’s long-promised Model S accessories, designed to make it possible for Tesla Model S owners around the world to charge their cars from the Japanese-designed CHAdeMO quick charge stations used by cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-Miev.
After years of waiting however, the $450 Tesla Model S to CHAdeMO adapter will be officially going on sale later this month.
That’s according to Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales and service Jerome Guillen, who told Sylvain Juteau of French-Canadian site Roulezelectrique.com (via InsideEVs) at the end of last year that the Model S to CHAdeMO adapter would officially go on sale some time in January, a fact InsideEVs claims was confirmed again at this week by Tesla at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Squint, and the Tesla Model S-to-CHAdeMO DC quick charge adapter looks a little like a traditional gasoline pump from a filling station. But look a little harder, and you’ll see the narrow end of the strange apparatus carries Tesla’s proprietary charge connector on one end and a CHAdeMO DC quick charge socket on the other.
Given the weight of the CHAdeMO DC quick charge connector and cable, the adapter is designed to hang away from the Model S it is plugged into, raking downwards at a 45-degree angle to avoid any damage to the car’s paintwork from the heavy, usually metallic-bodied CHAdeMO plug.
But while the official Tesla CHAdeMO adapter will allow Tesla Model S owners to use the same CHAdeMO DC quick charging stations that Nissan LEAF owners can use, we’re at a loss to figure out just who will spend $450 on one when Tesla now has its Superchargers within easy reach in most U.S. states.
In Europe — where Tesla’s Supercharger network is a little less mature and many Model S owners find themselves relegated to three-phase, 22 kilowatt charging — the case for the CHAdeMO adapter is a little easier to make. Even then however, it’s still a tough sell, especially since European-market Tesla Model S cars use a modified variation of the Type 2 connector for charging rather than Tesla’s U.S.-market proprietary plug. With a type 2 inlet rather than a Tesla-only inlet, European Model S owners can already make use of far more non-Tesla fast chargers than their U.S. counterparts.
Juteau has a potential answer to our question: Tesla owners who live off the beaten track or away from existing Supercharger provision. In the part of Quebec where Juteau lives, Tesla Superchargers are few and far between, while DC CHAdeMO quick charge stations are more common. For him and owners like him, buying the CHAdeMO adapter may help speed up charging to 50 kilowatts rather than the far slower J1772 adapter most U.S. Model S owners have to use when there’s no Supercharger around.
In some cases, we’ll admit the CHAdeMO adapter does make sense. However, while there are plenty of places in the U.S. with little or no Supercharger support –including large swathes of the Midwest and Great Plains — they’re generally the same places where there are few or no DC CHAdeMO charging stations either.
Conversely, areas where CHAdeMO DC quick charging provision exists in the U.S. tend to be areas near Supercharger provision too. And while it may be quicker sometimes to visit a CHAdeMO charging station than drive out of the way to reach an off-route Supercharger, the disparity in charging rate — 50 kilowatts versus more than 100 kilowatts — should be enough to make the case for Supercharging. Add in the cost benefits — not all CHAdeMO charging stations are free — and we think few will order the adapter.
As for other plug-in owners? We predict a backlash as those who do make the decision to buy a Tesla CHAdeMO adapter make use of it in locations previously frequented by Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi i-Miev and Kia Soul EV owners. Since Tesla battery packs are larger and will take longer to charge, it won’t be long before someone gets upset, although we think that every plug-in owner deserves equal access to charging infrastructure, regardless of vehicle type or specification.
Do you agree? Do you think people will buy the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter? And if you’re someone who relies on the CHAdeMO DC quick charge network, how would you feel about finding a Tesla Model S charging at it if there’s a supercharger nearby?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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