To speed plug-in vehicle acceptance, automakers are saying public charging requiring not much more time than a gasoline fill-up does, and industry wide standardization will be needed.

An example illustrated Wednesday by GM involves Chevrolet’s Spark EV, for which it was announced 15-30 minute charging is a possibility – and ideally GM would like the J1772 standard and related equipment to work for other brands as well.

This assertion was brought up because on the same occasion GM said it and four other major auto manufacturers have all agreed to a proposed 440-volt Level III DC fast-charging standard.

Those also in favor of the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) solution are: BMW, Daimler AG, Ford, and Volkswagen. Brands included by Daimler are Mercedes-Benz and Smart, and, the VW umbrella covers Porsche and Audi.


Do you think the Spark Ev will be an easier sell if buyers know they can top off in a few minutes, or more fully recharge in 15-30 minutes? GM does.

Echoing other automaker’s sentiments, Doug Parks, GM’s head of battery programs acknowledged conveniently fast daytime charging is desirable.

The Detroit Bureau further reported "industry sources" have said that if the SAE standard is indeed implemented, this push is "likely" to compel others to sign on as well.

But how reliable this feeling is, theDetroit Bureau did not say, even as it stacked up reasons why a single across-the-board standard may not be so easy to achieve.

Although the aforementioned big name plug-in vehicle makers appear ready to implement one quick-charge standard, there remain stragglers preventing the desire to see it unanimous.

Notable exceptions to the agreement by GM and others are Fisker and Tesla – nor have Mitsubishi and Nissan signed on, and they are actually heading in a different direction with the Chademo standard, and have already sold thousands of cars in various markets with it included.

We are unsure if U.S.-based Fisker and Tesla would sign on in time, less sure about Mitsubishi and Nissan – which is working on its own solutions, including a system that can fully recharge a 24-kwh Leaf in under 10 minutes.

That project is being done with researchers at Japan’s Kansai University, and they say it could be a decade before it is commercially available.


Those pesky competing standards! Here's an optional (second) charger door for a Chademo plug which the two Japanese automakers – Mitsubishi and Nissan – are already well invested in. And for that matter, U.S. charger installers appear to be preparing installation of more Chademo DC quick chargers in the Pacific Northwest and California's I-5 corridor.

Meanwhile, the SAE has a comparative majority of stakeholders in favor of its solution, lots of cars to sell sooner than a decade from now, so where is this going?

We asked GM Spokesman Kevin Kelly what he could tell us about the SAE's standard itself, and though he did not offer many details, he gave what he could.

“Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the joint SAE work group to set the appropriate technical solution for DC fast charging,” Kelly said Thursday. “Our contention, and that of the other OEMs involved in yesterday's announcement is that a charging solution leveraging a single charge port and the existing J1772 standards is the preferred strategic direction.”

Kelly deflected questions of time frame and cost, and to be sure, it may be early to name costs.

“Again, the technical solution will be determined via the SAE process, but directionally a single-port solution is the best approach to reduce vehicle complexity/cost and to ensure a high-level of customer satisfaction,” Kelly said.

As reported previously, the SAE has also worked on a two-plug-in-one solution merging a J1772 with a second plug pin configuration in one connector, but we are unsure of that project.

We might have found out when we phoned the SAE yesterday hoping to learn more, but a media rep asked us to email questions which we did, and they were not answered.

So what we can tell you at this point is the SAE single-connect solution is endorsed by GM and others because it would be usable by any road-going EV and would make things easier for everyone.

That is, it “will reduce build complexity for manufacturers," according to a statement from Ford, "accelerate the installation of common systems internationally and, most importantly, improve the ownership experience for EV drivers.”

As for the ownership experience for Volt drivers, obviously you have less to worry about, your cars with gasoline backup can charge overnight – and for that matter, so can BEVs.

Again, this is for mainstream consumers not wanting to make sacrifices in how they use their cars, not necessarily early adapters who have shown they are willing to … well … adapt.

Automakers perceive that for the large numbers of customers they would like to transition from petro-fuel to battery power, the switch cannot seem like a step backwards which – for many – longer recharging times do.


Mitsubishi has said daily Level III charging is no problem. It will offer its Chademo interface with the $2,790 Premium Package, or as $700 option on the ES model which will price out just below $30,000 (before incentives).

And for those of you concerned that batteries cannot take regular high-voltage charging without it eating into their usable lives, this is also in question.

Mitsubishi has come out recently and said it is factoring in daily quick charges for its "i" (limited to 80-percent charge in 20-30 minutes to prevent battery overheating).

“We expect a daily quick charge not to have a significant toll on battery life,” said Bryan Arnett, manager of EV product strategy for Mitsubishi Motors North America.

Arnett said Mitsu expects its batteries will be able to hold 80 percent of their original charge after ten years, even if quick charged.

So, quick charging might take some durability away, but not enough to detract Mitsubishi – and presumably GM and others pushing for a trade-off seen as needed to graduate plug-ins beyond the infancy stage.

The Detroit Bureau , Green Car Reports .