At a time when the electric vehicle market is certainly building up a great head of steam, there is concern regarding two charging technologies in the marketplace which are not compatible with each other. On one side we have CHAdeMO (favoured by Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota) and on the other we have the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International J1772 Combo standard which is currently supported by BMW, Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors.
This is turning into something of a major spat between owners and supporters of the two different technologies and, while competition is good, it could have significant implications for the electric vehicle industry as a whole.
Surely competition is good?
While there is no doubt that competition in the electric vehicle market is good for all concerned, the problem with the technology associated with recharging installations is the fact that we will see more networks rolled out, but would all vehicles be able to use them? At this moment in time it is difficult to say which one will be the winner and when you also throw in Tesla's own individual recharging technology, we have an even greater problem further down the line.
As things stand there is no chance of the parties coming together to form a general standard which can be used right across the electric vehicle market. It looks as though it may take a battle royal which will see one or more of the technologies fall by the wayside before we have a clearer view of how the electric charging industry will look.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "There is a growing concern that local authority free charging stations are stopping commercial operators from entering the market. If EV drivers expect to recharge their batteries for nothing, why would commercial operators choose to invest their funds for no return?"
Investing in charging stations
While private individuals, private companies, and governments around the world look to encourage more use of electric vehicles they now have a quandary, which electric charging technology do they go for? While each individual charging station is not necessarily expensive, we are talking about the potential roll-out of millions of charging stations around the world which is a significant investment and unfortunately one which may prove worthless for some people depending upon which technology leads the way in the future.
At some stage we will see an agreement across-the-board although at this moment in time it looks as if this could potentially be some time down the line. Until then governments around the world will need to take a chance on the relevant technology because, while relatively cheap in comparison to gasoline stations, it would not make sense installing both technologies at every electric vehicle charging station.
The electric vehicle industry is not the only industry to have faced such challenges, as we saw with VHS and Betamax video. There will be a natural hierarchy emerging in the future, although at this moment in time it does put those looking to invest in not only an electric vehicle but also an electric charging point in a very difficult situation.
We can only hope that the relevant parties come together in the short to medium term and agree upon a general standard.