EV charging needs a common standard
The development of electric vehicles (EV) is slowed down by the absence of a common standard to charge it. We must get rid of the conflicting private and collective interests as soon as possible.
When we fuel up cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) we have to be careful not to mix fuels but it is true that once the right fuel chosen it is practically the same all over the world. The same problem occurs now, but even worse, with the ‘fueling’ of EVs.
The EV owner/user who is not in a hurry can easily fill up his car’s battery at home or elsewhere via the regular electric grid but if he wants to do it quickly or travel further away, he has a problem.
In the long run EVs have to give the possibility to drive as far and charge as quickly as an ICE vehicle today. That’s when fast charging stations come in.
There has been a long fight between manufacturers and public authorities who have to provide them. Tesla has solved this chicken/egg debate in its own way: let’s provide the car and the charging infrastructure.
The war of the standards
All manufacturers of EVs have mutual interest that their customers can recharge as fast as possible in as many places as possible. So you would think that they sit around the table and define a common standard for them.
The problem is that a lot of them have already developed their own standard, alone or in small groups. You have SAE Combo Charging System (BMW, GM, VW), ChaDeMo (Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia), GB/T (the Chinese manufacturers) and you have Tesla, to name the most important.
Because of the different private interests (patents, dividends on use, rights, etc.) there is no urgency to work together on this matter, the opposition between the different systems is also known as the (electric) ‘War of the Sexes’.
The first solution is that an international organism (be it political or professional) dictates the new standard for all. In this system benefits of use will be shared among all players to compensate those whose previous system has not been chosen.
The second ‘solution’ is to let rage the war until there is a clear winner. If one of the competitors can convince enough other brands/manufacturers to choose his system, his network will grow more rapidly and in the end he will win. That’s how ICE has won from EV 120 years ago.
The third possibility (we wouldn’t call it a solution) is that several standards remain. The same happened for example in the computing world, where Apple has resisted the Windows platform.
Today the future of the EV is probably more determined by this war of the standards then by the different manufacturers’ ideas. Who is winning, will not be that important, except if the standard chosen is of lower quality.
Public authorities are deciding all over the world to install millions of charging points as quickly as possible. The manufacturer that invests massively in his charging infrastructure in the hope of winning the charging race, will have probably more benefits from it than the one investing in vehicle research.