News article

CHAdeMO charging on the Electric Highway

Find out more about our strategy for CHAdeMO charging as part of the Electric Highway upgrade programme.

In an ideal world there would be a single connector type for charging all types of electric vehicle, or car manufacturers would provide their customers with adaptors to use all of the main charger connectors … but as of today we are quite some way away from that. As a result GRIDSERVE have made a commitment to provide all of the main charging connectors (CCS + CHAdeMO + AC) in every location.

However, this commitment then creates a challenge for us in forecasting what percentage of each charger type is needed, both today and in the near future. This isn’t as straightforward as one might expect with the replacement of the old Ecotricity chargers, as until we add more high power chargers (which typically require new grid connections), we presently only have a limited number of chargers and the existing power supplies to serve a variety of charging needs. We’re making the very best of what’s available, by using chargers that have the capability of charging two cars at the same time – and we will be activating dual charging as soon as possible (more about that in the dual charging post).

Standardisation is happening, but in the meantime we are supporting all the major connector types

It’s now clear that in the future CCS is going to be the principle standard for DC charging – at least in the UK. However as of today, CHAdeMO is still very important, albeit with a lower market share, and given all the new EVs coming to market with CCS-only DC charging, this market share will continue to reduce over time.

We’ve analysed our data on charging sessions, and we are currently receiving 75% of charging sessions for CCS connectors and 25% for CHAdeMO. Fortunately, this precisely matches our thinking behind the DC-charger connector configuration we have chosen for Electric Highway sites where we are replacing two chargers i.e. we are installing 2 x dual chargers, one with CHAdeMO + CCS and the second with 2 x CCS, so in total we have 25% for CHAdeMO and 75% for CCS.

However for busier sites with the 3 x dual charger configurations that we have installed to-date, we currently have 1 x CHAdeMO and 5 x CCS = a ratio of 1/6 for CHAdeMO vs CCS = 17%. This is clearly below 25%, which tells us we are not serving our customer needs well for these sites yet. This is also reflected in some of the feedback that we’ve received.

We’ve listened and corrected this, and all future 3 x dual charger sites will have 2 x CHAdeMO and 4 x CCS connectors. This is a ratio of 2/6 for CHAdeMO = 33%. This is clearly higher than the 25% of sessions we are seeing for CHAdeMO so we believe this will resolve the issue and dramatically improve our customer experience for CHAdeMO charging on these sites.

We will continue to support CHAdeMO charging for as long as required

We are also going to be swapping out chargers on the 3 x charger sites that we’ve already installed, to maintain this ratio and consistency across all the sites. We will do this when we receive the next batches of chargers that also have integrated AC sockets, so will also resolve this at the same time.

We anticipate this to be all done within the next 2-months, as soon as we receive the new batches of chargers. We’re currently experiencing all sorts of supply chain issues with the delivery of these chargers, caused by recovery from the global pandemic as well as some customs issues that are creating additional delays, but we will continue to push to get this all over the line ASAP.

This also isn’t the end of the story for new CHAdeMO connectors across our network. The replacement of the Ecotricity chargers is only the beginning, and wherever possible, we are seeking to add a further 6-12 high power chargers per location.

At the new Rugby MSA site, which is the first high power charger location that we have upgraded, we added 12 x high power chargers, 6 of which have both CHAdeMO and CCS. Whilst this is clearly great news for CHAdeMO charging at this site, our data is showing that we have likely over-provisioned for CHAdeMO at this location, so won’t get the utilisation to justify so many of these connector types on future high power sites. 

We will continue to listen to feedback, data, and optimise over time to ensure we deliver drivers of all types of electric vehicles the best possible charging experience – that’s our goal!

Our approach is to continuously improve technology and optimise our customer experience

Finally, repeating the comment at the beginning of this post, vehicle manufacturers and other innovative companies could also really help us navigate this issue, by creating adaptors. As CCS is set to become the standard for DC charging, it would be really helpful if manufacturers of vehicles that use CHAdeMO chargers could also provide their customers with CCS adaptors. Such adaptors would also provide drivers with CHAdeMO charging an advantage over CCS as they could use all the charging connectors that we are installing, whereas CCS vehicles would be restricted to only CCS… just a thought we are hoping interested parties may wish to run with!

We hope this explanation helps people to understand that we care a great deal about customers being able to charge all types of vehicles on our network with a fantastic customer experience, irrespective of the charging connector, and that CHAdeMO is super important to us.

As we’ve outlined, it’s not entirely straightforward to get this right, but we certainly intend to and will keep working on it until we get there, and as quickly as possible!

Toddington Harper CEO, GRIDSERVE

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