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Charging Ahead

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Tokyo – May 25 – A Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors-led consortium met in Tokyo this week put a spark in CHAdeMO high-speed charger roll out plans, with global customers updating on infrastructure.

CHAdeMO is the incumbent DC standard, developed by Tokyo Electric Power and Japanese automakers, with over 1,400 units installed so far.

The Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV can recharge in 30 minutes using the high-speed unit, located primarily in Japan and Europe.

CHAdeMO Chairman and Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga says roll out will become stronger as more EVs hit the world’s roads.

“In March 2010 the CHAdeMO group began its work , not just in Japan but around the globe, focusing on the high-speed charger roll out,” Shiga said.

“There are now over 1,000 high-speed units in Japan and over 300 overseas. It’s growing and there are 32 companies making the chargers now, so to get this far in just two years makes me very happy.”

A separate U.S-European consortium of some eight automobile manufacturers is working on another charging protocol called “the Combo”, seen as a potential rival for CHAdeMO but yet to begin production.

The Combo uses a single plug for fast and normal charging, while CHAdeMo uses separate plugs, and Shiga says a unified standard is needed.

Data from the all-electric LEAF has been key to feedback on CHAdeMO’s  platform, says Junichi Kobayashi, senior manager of  Nissan’s EV Technology Development Division.

“It’s been two years since the founding of the CHAdeMO association and we already sold 30,000 LEAFs in the world. That means those LEAFs are a kind of proof of the reliability of CHAdeMO, because we track all quick-charging and diagnosis by our global data center and believe all the quick-charging is well performed. That means the reliability of CHAdeMO. That is the most important – one of the advantages – for CHAdeMO,” said Kobayashi.

Europe’s largest fast-charging network is in Estonia, which ordered 200 CHAdeMO units in January.

Jarmo Tuisk, Head of Technology and Innovation at Estonia’s economics affairs ministry, said the government aims to offer fast charging in all cities with more than 5,000 residents.

“In Estonia we made the choice to follow the cars, to provide quick charging networks as soon as we can. Right now, we see that CHAdeMO is ready for that and that CHAdeMO is the right solution for the early adopters. That’s why Estonia chose to build up CHAdeMO DC fast-charging networks,” Tuisk said.

“If you look at Europe-wide, Europe is moving at different speeds. There are countries which take more aggressive approaches to introduce EVs to the market; there are other countries that are more conservative, trying to see what’s going to happen in the market. So in Europe there is a variety of strategies booming right now,” he said.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn believes EVs will account for 10% of the global market by 2020, but a global charging infrastructure, with technological advances in battery power and charger speed, key to support that trajectory.

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