It’s small enough to be mounted on the wall of a parking garage or a parking lot lighting pole and unlike many larger electric car DC quick charging stations only needs a 32-amp three-phase power supply to operate, making it possible to offer electric car rapid charging in locations previously impossible without significant infrastructure upgrade.
When connected to a CCS-compatible electric car like the BMW i3 or Volkswagen e-Golf, it can provide an 80 percent charge in just under an hour. But while the brand-new 24 kilowatt ChargePoint Express 100, the latest addition to the ChargePoint’s range of electric vehicle charging stations, sounds like the perfect charging station for any small or mid-sized business looking to offer rapid electric car charging on a budget, there’s one tiny problem with it.
It’s only available at the moment with a CCS charge connector, immediately barring more than half of the electric cars on the roads in the U.S. today due to incompatibility between CCS and the CHAdeMo quick charge standard preferred by Nissan, Kia and Mitsubishi.
For those unfamiliar with the ongoing war between the various rapid charging station standards in use around the world, there are currently three major DC rapid charging standards in use around the world in addition to a country-specific DC quick charging standard in use in the People’s Republic of China and an AC rapid charging standard favoured in Europe by Renault.
One of them is Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger standard. Despite being open source, only Tesla-made cars like the Tesla Model S and soon-to-launch Tesla Model X make use of this standard.
The other two, CCS and CHAdeMO, split the rest of the electric vehicle world in most markets.
CHAdeMO, which came first and is championed by Japanese automakers Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi as well as South Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai, is currently the most dominant standard worldwide, with more than 8,550 units installed worldwide.
CCS — or combined charge standard to use its full name — is favoured by German automakers like Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche as well as the majority of U.S. automakers, including Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Yet despite a larger potential market share, the number of CCS-compatible cars on the road and the number of CCS charging stations worldwide is far smaller.
On one side, producing a more affordable, less-powerful CCS DC rapid charging station should help increase the total number of CCS-compatible charging stations in the wild, counteracting the large numbers of CHAdeMO-only charging stations still in existence and redressing the balance between the two standards. On the flip side however, bringing a product to market without yet making a CHAdeMO unit available could lead to many uninitiated businesses spending money on installing a brand-new rapid charging station only to find that it is incompatible with at least half of its customers’ cars.
That’s coming later this year, promises ChargePoint, with a dedicated CHAdeMO-only variant of the same unit.
Similar in design to the 24-kilowatt CCS rapid charging station being installed at BMW and Volkswagen dealerships across the U.S. under a joint collaboration between Chargepoint and the two German automakers announced at the start of the year, ChargePoint says the Express 100 will be one of the lowest-cost rapid charging stations on the roads today. At the time of writing, that price hasn’t been disclosed.
But while we’re pleased to see more charging options appearing on the market for those who want to offer rapid charging to their customers, we can’t help but think the gold standard in North America for electric car charging is still a dual-head charging station offering both CCS and CHAdeMO cables on a single unit. Luckily for ChargePoint, the company already offers such a product: a more-expensive, more powerful, 50 kilowatt charging station known as the Express 200.
We watch with interest to see which of the two units become more popular with customers.
Do you drive a CCS-compatible car or a CHAdeMO-compatible car? How do you view the ongoing war between charging standards? Do you think charging stations should offer single-standard capabilities, or would you prefer to see one-unit catering to multiple standards?
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