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Oil Industry Delights in Arguments Over How to Charge Electric Vehicles

Oil Industry Delights in Arguments Over How to Charge Electric Vehicles

It’s your turn to drive the carpool, so you pop out to the garage before you go to bed to make sure the car is plugged in, ensuring that there’ll be enough power to pick everyone up and get to work in the morning. Fantasy, or reality? For the electric vehicle (EV) movement, it’s a goal, but it might stall out before widespread adoption of EVs can even get off the ground, thanks to bickering between manufacturers over which charging standard to adopt.

As those of us with cell phones, laptops and other electronics know, conflicting charging standards can be a real pain. While universal charging seems like it should be an obvious goal for the electronics industry, it’s not, which is why it becomes necessary to maintain a stack of chargers for a variety of equipment, many of which are very expensive if you need to replace them. With multiple companies producing electric vehicles and establishing their own proprietary charging systems, the problem is being repeated, only on a much larger scale.

GM, Ford, BMW and Volkswagon favor the International J1772 Combo Standard, developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Unfortunately, Japanese automakers prefer CHAdeMO, another fast-charging standard developed in Japan. The two systems are not compatible, which means that cars developed for one can’t be charged with the other, and vice versa. Meanwhile, the Tesla Motor Company has another totally unrelated charging system, just to add to the confusion and the conflict over which way the industry should go.

For vehicle owners, this represents a problem, and it’s an issue for public charging stations and similar resources; what kind of station should be installed? Putting in more than one is a gamble, and gets costly as well, but putting in the wrong one could be a major mistake, because drivers wouldn’t be able to use it. Until the automakers make up their minds about which system will become the industry standard, it creates a significant form of limbo as people wait to see which system will dominate. The wait means that people are reluctant to adopt electric vehicles, because they can’t make decisions until they know whether their cars will be chargeable in their communities.

While the automakers obviously want to push the systems they’re comfortable with, and those they had a role in developing, something has to give here. It’s in the best interests of the industry overall to designate a universal charging standard and stick with it, creating something that will allow any car to be plugged into any charger. If the industry can’t make up its mind or holdout automakers insist on their own systems, we may be in for a fresh round of “who killed the electric car?”

There’s a lot of money at stake in the debate over which system should become universal, and this, of course, is the major sticking point; if everyone is too stubborn to give, everyone loses, but no one is willing to walk away from the table leaving years of work and millions of dollars in research and development investment behind. Yet, that’s exactly what is going to have to happen, and it might take government intervention to force the hands of the industry.

Meanwhile, the oil industry must be so delighted as the dithering over charging standards leaves the industry imbalanced and impatient for resolution.

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56 comments

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3:51AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Om my!!!

2:02AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

ty

6:08AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

excuses excuses

9:28PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

Here is some information from a once proponent of electric cars.
Manufacturers and marketing agencies exploit the fact that every power source carries its own unique portfolio of side effects to create the terms of discussion that best suit their needs. Electric-car makers like to point out, for instance, that their vehicles can be charged from renewable sources, such as solar energy. Even if that were possible to do on a large scale, manufacturing the vast number of photovoltaic cells required would have venomous side effects. Solar cells contain heavy metals, and their manufacturing releases greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride, which has 23 000 times as much global warming potential as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What’s more, fossil fuels are burned in the extraction of the raw materials needed to make solar cells and wind turbines—and for their fabrication, assembly, and maintenance. The same is true for the redundant backup power plants they require. And even more fossil fuel is burned when all this equipment is decommissioned. Electric-car proponents eagerly embrace renewable energy as a scheme to power their machines, but they conveniently ignore the associated environmental repercussions.

Finally, most electric-car assessments analyze only the charging of the car. This is an important factor indeed. But a more rigorous analysis would consider the environmental impacts over the vehicle’s entire life cycle

3:08PM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Meanwhile, I assume an electric vehicle whether solely electric or plug in hybrid comes with a kit to install its charger in your garage. Also meanwhile, most travel is within a single battery charge range of home. And a plug-in hybrid is better for those who do travel a lot until this issue is settled.

10:19AM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Does this sound like our congress to anyone else or is it just me? If they don't get along, find solutions, and fix it they kill America.

11:34PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

Sounds like there could be money in developing the adapter that can take care of all the different types.

10:32PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

When I roll up to the pump I have three choices, regular, mid-grade and premium. So what's wrong with three "pumps" for the three types of chargers?

6:37PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

They are fighting over money AGAIN. You may call it what you want, but car companies are not working together. They all want to make MORE money.

5:57PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

Hopefully the companies involved will choose a standard and we will not have to deal with competing technologies as we did in the VHS vs. beta days.

There is no doubt that electric vehicles are more efficient that those using the internal combustion engine since a great deal of energy is wasted in the production of heat by the gas guzzlers.

The problem is that most electric power in this country is powered by coal and plugging in your electric or hybrid vehicle to recharge it still affects the environment even though you are not burning gasoline because your are recharging your batteries via coal produced power. Electric vehicles will be even more beneficial when we transition from coal to renewable energy to produce more of the country's power needs. A win win situation.

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