In today’s modern electric car marketplace, there are several different competing standards for direct current fast charging of electric cars. Aside from Tesla’s Supercharger standard — which uses different physical charging connectors in Europe and China to the original proprietary connector debuted on U.S. Model S cars — the world’s automakers are split between three different standards.
European and North American automakers — like BMW, Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford — use CCS, which adds two extra high-current charge pins below the Mennenkes (Type 2) and J1772 (Type 1) connectors respectively favoured by each market for low current, AC charging. Chinese automakers use a specially-designed connector which is only used in China itself to rapid charge electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, Japanese automakers use the CHAdeMO system — the oldest and most established of the four rapid charging standards in use today. Thanks to its use on cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, CHAdeMO charging stations outnumber all the other rapid charging standards in the world — even in markets where CCS is considered the preferred standard by local automakers due to its smaller size and less complex connector design.
But now the CHAdeMO association — the body responsible for certifying and developing the industry-leading CHAdeMO quick charge standard — has its sights set on offering more than rapid charging for electric cars in the near future.
It wants to help power your home and feed power to the electricity grid too, something called Vehicle-to-Grid or V2G for short.
“Now we are talking about vehicle to home. It is not only a charging system, but CHAdeMO can also be a discharging system”
As AutomotiveNews (subscription required) details, the CHAdeMO association, helped by automakers like Nissan, Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Honda, wants to add vehicle-to-home connectivity in the next version of its CHAdeMO standard. At the 5th CHAdeMO General Assembly in Tokyo yesterday, the association laid out preliminary plans to expand the CHAdeMO protocol and standard to include V2G technology.
With a bulky, dedicated charge connector housing eight small, discreet low-voltage pins for communications and two larger conductors for high current power transfer of up to 125 amps at 500 volts DC, the CHAdeMO electric car fast charging connector is undeniably the most complex of electric car charging standards, but as CHAdeMO Association president and vice president of Nissan explains, the connector is capable of enabling far more than simply charging an electric car.
“I think that’s how CHAdeMO can expand,” told the industry publication. “Now we are talking about vehicle to home. It is not only a charging system, but CHAdeMO can also be a discharging system.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. In its domestic market of Japan — buoyed by the aftermath of the tragic 2011 earthquake and tsunami which killed so many people and cut power to towns and cities across a large portion of the country — Nissan worked with various partner companies to develop its LEAF to Home system, a CHAdeMO-equipped unit about the size of a small air conditioner which could not only charge a Nissan LEAF at 6 kilowatts from the grid but also be used to draw power from the electric car in an emergency to power a home.
Nissan has even expanded that system further, building a prototype vehicle-to-grid setup in one office parking lot in Japan, allowing employees to not only charge their cars but use electric cars as grid-connected energy storage devices to smooth out peaks and troughs in energy demand in the building throughout the day.
Mitsubishi has designed a domestic system similar to Nissan’s for use with its i-Miev and Outlander PHEV plug-in cars, while both Honda and Toyota will offer CHAdeMO-compliant connectors on their upcoming fuel cell sedans. While Honda and Toyota’s fuel cell cars don’t have a high-capacity battery pack to charge using a CHAdeMO charging station, the connectors make it possible for home owners with fuel cell sedans to use CHAdeMO V2G technology to power their home from the hydrogen fuel cell in their car in an emergency.
While many applications of V2G technology already exist however, the provision for V2G connectivity isn’t yet fully part of the CHAdeMo standard, something the CHAdeMO Association wishes to change. Partnering with the Electric Vehicle Power Supply System Association (EVPOSSA) — whose members include Panasonic, Hitachi, Toshiba and Unisys — CHAdeMO hopes it can both finalise and implement a more refined standard for V2G connectivity.
In the future, this could even make it possible for utility companies to interface with CHAdeMO equipped vehicles and charging stations in domestic and commercial applications to feed power to and from the grid to help smooth power demand during peak periods, while continuing to allow vehicles to provide backup power in the event of an emergency. Unlike static battery packs, vehicles could even operate as mobile power stations, driving to areas with no grid connectivity to provide essential power for emergency services or medical purposes.
Like all committee-driven processes however, the integration of V2G connectivity on all CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles won’t be an overnight thing. Given the ground work already carried out by Nissan, Mitsubishi and others however, we can only hope it takes less time than a completely new standard designed from scratch. As long as the standard is backwards-compatible too, there’s a potential every CHAdeMO-equipped vehicle made could offer plug and play connectivity.
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