Daimler, Ford, VW and BMW Join Forces To Unleash 350 kW Super-Fast CCS Electric Car Charging Network Across Europe

When it comes to maker-agnostic electric vehicle charging standards, the CCS standard favored by most European and American automakers is far from the market leader.

That accolade — at least by installed base alone — goes to the CHAdeMO DC quick charging standard, which can be found at more DC quick charging station locations across the world than any other standard. It’s also the quick charge standard chosen by Nissan for its LEAF and e-NV200 electric cars, thus ensuring CHAdeMO’s continued popularity. Yet CHAdeMO and its 13,295 DC quick charging stations around the world — which currently offer charging at power levels up to 50 kilowatts — can’t compete with the 145 kW power currently offered by Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger network, making Tesla’s company-owned network of Supercharger stations the fastest and most practical quick charge standard for electric car charging to date.

Current CCS charging only offers power levels up to 50 kW

Current CCS charging only offers power levels up to 50 kW

Sadly, despite Tesla’s offer to the share its Supercharger standard with the automotive world, the Supercharger network is currently only compatible with Tesla’s own electric cars, leaving any other electric cars on the market with the slow 50 kW maximum power currently offered by the CHAdeMO and CCS charge standards. For electric cars with battery packs no larger than 35 kilowatt-hours (and thus ranges less than 120 miles per charge), charging at 50 kW from empty to 80 percent full takes around 30 minutes. But as electric car battery packs get larger and range per charge increases, charging at such low power rates equates to longer charge times.

The Porsche Mission-E will use the next-gen CCS standard.

The Porsche Mission-E will use the next-gen CCS standard.

Which is why both the CHAdeMO association and the Society of Automotive Engineers (the group behind the CCS quick charge standard) have been working hard to increase the power rating of their respective charging standards in recent years. Spurred on by Tesla’s 130 kW capability, the CHAdeMO association has set forth a next-generation CHAdeMO protocol capable of providing up to 150 kW of power, while the SAE — in collaboration with Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Ford — has been quietly working on a next-generation CCS standard that can provide up to 350 kW of power, more than twice that currently offered by Tesla’s Supercharger standard.

Today, those same automakers announced a joint partnership to bring just such a charging standard to commercial reality in the form of a Europe-wide charging network of 350kW CCS quick charging stations that could charge a 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in as little as fifteen minutes.

If that charge time sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the time quoted by Volkswagen’s premium performance arm Porsche, which quoted a 15-minute charge time for its upcoming Mission E electric sports sedan. Due to enter into production by 2020, Porsche’s first production electric car is expected to offer a real-world range somewhere between 250 and 280 miles per charge. When it first debuted as a concept car last year, Porsche said the car would make use of a new 800-volt variant of CCS capable of recharging its battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in 15 minutes.

Volkswagen's I-D concept also previewed the higher-power CCS standard.

Volkswagen’s I-D concept also previewed the higher-power CCS standard.

Around the same time, Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen touted that same ultra-fast charging standard too, hinting that we’d see it on production Volkswagen electric cars in the not-too-distant future. Now we know it’s the same 350kW charging standard Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW are bringing to Europe.

Initially, the alliance says 400 quick charging stations will be installed across Europe. It’s worth remembering that while this new 800-volt CCS quick charge standard will be backward compatible with current CCS-enabled electric cars the standard is designed for cars fitted with battery packs capable of more than 250 miles per charge, meaning that charging stations are likely to be located every 150-200 miles outside of busy urban centers. Or to put it another way, spaced about as far apart as most of Tesla’s Supercharger sites.

Construction on the network will begin next year, with completion of the initial 400 sites expected to take place by 2020 — by which point each of the partner automakers involved in the project hope to have their own vehicles on sale that can make use of the charging standard.

What of CHAdeMO or Tesla’s Supercharger standard? Unless CHAdeMO can match CCS in terms of power, it looks to be doomed for future electric car rapid charging. That said, CHAdeMO does offer two-way power transfer as part of its default standard, making it possible for electric cars fitted with it to provide emergency backup power to homes and businesses in the event of a disaster or power cut when matched with appropriate hardware. While we assume CCS could theoretically offer the same with appropriate certification, we’ve not seen any practical implementation of such a feature yet.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ would also feature the 15-minute rapid charge standard.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ would also feature the 15-minute rapid charge standard.

Tesla meanwhile? We’re guessing faster, more powerful Supercharging will come in due course: since its launch in 2012, Supercharging power levels have gradually increased from 120 kW up to 145 kW (although we should note the very first Model S cars could only charge at 90 kW). And since Tesla owns and operates its own network, it should be easier and quicker for it to upgrade its network to match the new 800-volt CCS charging standard than it will be for CHAdeMO sites to upgrade to a faster standard.

Do you think the new 800-volt CCS charge standard will change the market dominance for electric vehicle charging? Will the other standards catch up? Or will Tesla still win overall due to its integrated ownership experience?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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