What is CHAdeMO charging?
If you’ve ever stopped at a charging station, you may have noticed the number of charging cables and options available for electric vehicles. This is because electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can’t all be charged by a single standard of plug or charging speed.
Hence these stations often feature different connectors to suit different vehicles and charging requirements. One of these types of connectors is the CHAdeMO standard, a rapid-charging DC connector that's growing in popularity.
Rapid charging is the quickest way of recharging the batteries in electric cars, with stations using either rapid AC or DC power. A growing number of electric vehicles are able to use these stations, reducing the time owners have to spend charging their cars.
What is CHAdeMO?
To understand what CHAdeMO is, you first need to understand how rapid charging works. There are several different speeds at which EVs and PHEVs can be charged.
They start at low charging rates from a three-pin socket at home or public charging station, rising to a 7kW rate for more advanced 'wallbox' charging units. Some home and public charging units also feature a faster 22kW charging rate; these are known as fast chargers. The more power a charger supplies, the faster the car’s batteries are topped up.
Then there are rapid-charging stations. Thanks to advancements in battery and charging technology, these stations can supply high levels of electricity to the car. Rapid AC stations work at 43kW, while rapid DC stations supply power at 50kW. Tesla’s Supercharger network works at an even faster 120kW.
The key here is that electric vehicles use DC (direct current) to power the motor, while the electric grid in the UK supplies AC (alternating current). When charging from a home AC charger, the electric vehicle’s internal converter (rectifier) turns AC power into DC, which the car is then able to use.
Rapid DC chargers do the conversion in the charging booth. This means the charging station directly supplies the vehicle with DC power, without the need to first convert the power from AC to DC.
CHAdeMO is a rapid-charging DC standard, established by Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies in 2010. It’s an abbreviation of the words Charge de Move. The idea was to create a fast-charging DC standard that would be adopted across the automotive industry, as well as other sectors relying on electrical DC charging.
It became the first-ever fast-charging platform for electric vehicles, and now enables ranges from 6kW to 150kW – although the maximum available for electric vehicles at the moment is 50kW.
With a 50kW charge, a 40kWh Nissan Leaf can be fully recharged in under an hour. In comparison, a full recharge on a 3kW system would take over 13 hours.
According to CHAdeMO, 22% of all electric vehicles in the world are equipped with a CHAdeMO inlet, with another 15% of the world’s PHEVs CHAdeMO-compatible, too. Furthermore, 13% of Teslas are also CHAdeMO-compatible thanks to Tesla’s own CHAdeMO adapter that can be purchased separately.
Which cars currently work with CHAdeMO?
As CHAdeMO was created by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Fuki and Tokyo Electric Power Company, Japanese car makers are some of the biggest adopters of CHAdeMO technology.
In the UK, the following cars can be rapid charged with a CHAdeMO connector:
Tesla Model S (when fitted with an adapter)
This also means all of them can be rapid DC charged with 50kW power. To find the closest CHAdeMO charger to you, log on to Zap Map and use the charging type filter on the left-hand side to pick out CHAdeMO.
As of September 2018, there are over 2,600 CHAdeMO connectors in 1,170 locations around the UK.
Is CHAdeMO the only rapid-charging standard?
If you’re using the charging type filter on Zap Map, you’ll note that all charging stations with a CHAdeMO connector also feature a CCS 50kW rapid-charging connector.
CCS is a competing rapid DC connector standard developed by various German car makers. It stands for Combined Charging System, and was introduced in 2012 by Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Ford, Daimler and Porsche.
The CCS standard is gaining momentum in Europe, as car makers such as VW, BMW and Mercedes-Benz continue to introduce new electric models to the market. Crucially, some of this year’s most important electric vehicles such as the Hyundai Kona Electric use the CCS charging standard, too.
There are also plans to introduce 400 high-powered CCS charging stations across 18 European main roads by 2020. These stations are said to come with 350kW power rates.
Should I specifically look out for cars with either CCS or CHAdeMO connector capability?
This depends on whether you want access to rapid charging or not. If you’re happy being able to charge at lower speeds, taking a longer time to top up your vehicle, then you won’t necessarily need a car with either CCS or CHAdeMO connector capability.
A 7kW Type 2 charger can easily top up a car overnight, and if the electric vehicle is used only for small trips each day, there is little need to invest in one that is able to rapid charge.
At the moment, all rapid-charging stations come with both a CCS and CHAdeMO connector, so choosing a vehicle based on whether it has one or the other isn’t necessary.