When I first heard of the “CHAdeMo” EV charging plug, I remember thinking that it was an obscure name – especially after finding out that it stands for “CHArge de MOve”. I then remember wishing that this charging type would die out, so that people wouldn’t have to say (or type) “CHAdeMo” anymore.
Okay, that’s not really true. But I was interested to learn more about it, and especially whether it is “dead and obsolete”, as some people claim. Just how accurate is this claim? And if you have a CHAdeMo-compatible EV or charger, will you soon be stuck?
The CHAdeMo charging plug type is still actively used on various EVs, however many future EVs have moved to other formats – and charging networks are starting to deprecate them too. So in time, the CHAdeMo format is likely to slowly die out.
Of course, that doesn’t tell the full story – so let’s dive into a bit more information about the CHAdeMo format.
What Is CHAdeMo?
Once upon a time, charging up an EV could take quite a long time – this is because level 1 and level 2 chargers are limited by how much voltage (and hence power) then can supply to an EV to re-charge its battery. As a result, a number of fast charging formats were developed. This includes the CHAdeMO format, which was worked on by a group of Japanese automakers including Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
This CHAdeMo standard is in competition with a Europe and US backed format known as CCS (the Combined Charging System), and also Tesla’s own Supercharger format – although Tesla did eventually release a CHAdeMo adapter so that Teslas could be charged up at CHAdeMo EVSE stations.
The original CHAdeMo standard supplies up to 62.5 Kw power via a 500V 125A DC supply, whereas the second version of CHAdeMo supports speeds of up to 400 kW. To put those numbers into context, a second gen CHAdeMo station could charge a Nissan Leaf from 20% to 80% in around one hour.
The plug’s shape is round, and smaller than the CCS plug. In the image below, CHAdeMo is on the left and CCS is on the right:
As mentioned earlier, the CHAdeMo standard was worked on by various Japanese companies – including Nissan. That’s why Nissan stuck with the CHAdeMo charger for its successful Nissan Leaf range, one of the best selling EVs ever.
Why Some New Asian EVs Are Ignoring CHAdeMo
One of the early issues with EV adoption was that there were multiple EV charging plug types, and no-one wanted to be carrying around half a dozen different cables and adapters in order to charge their EV in all locations.
This led to charging stations often building their stations with multiple plugs being available. This made business sense, because no-one wanted to drive their Leaf to a charging station, only to see that the single CHAdeMo plug was in-use:
But as time went on, more and more EVs came out with CCS plug support – and this led newer charging stations to only have one or two CHAdeMo plugs (across the station) and a dozen or more CCS plugs.
This also made business sense, of course – when building a new charging station, it makes sense to look at what EVs are being sold, before deciding how many of each plug to provide. Since an increasing number of EVs opted for CCS (not CHAdeMo), charging stations reacted accordingly.
CHAdeMO is very important in Japan, [but] We didn’t want to give our customers any disadvantage in terms of coverage and infrastructureIvan Espinosa, Nissan Senior VP, 2020
And this, in my opinion, was a key moment for the CHAdeMo format.
Nissan shunned CHAdeMo, a format they were instrumental in creating, because they knew that their customers across Europe and North America would increasingly struggle to charge up if they carried on supporting CHAdeMo.
This decision has been mirrored by other Japanese automakers including Toyota, whose upcoming EV, the bZ4x, will also support CCS.
That begs the question: if the original Japanese companies behind CHAdeMo are dropping it, is CHAdeMo dead?
So Is CHAdeMo Dead?
Yes, CHAdeMo is dead. Moving on.
Just kidding. I mean, it is pretty much dead, but let’s dive into a bit more detail. Barely any new EVs are being released with CHAdeMo support (save for a few Japan-specific models). Even the original Japanese automakers (including Toyota and Nissan) have abandoned the CHAdeMo format for their newer models.
Plus as mentioned earlier, an increasing number of charging stations are building their stations with lots of CCS plugs, and only one or two CHAdeMo plugs.
For example, Electrify America are one of the most popular charging networks across America with over 730 charging locations (and 2,438 individual charging units) in May 2022. And many of their charging locations now only have a single CHAdeMo plugs, which has caused range anxiety for various Nissan Leaf owners.
This is part of an active plan by Electrify America to phase out CHAdeMo plugs from early 2022 onwards, with them pointing out that only 5% of all electric dispensed on the network is through CHAdeMo connectors – and that this number is set to drop as time goes on.
So from this, two things are clear:
- CCS is now the preferred plug format across North America and Europe, with CHAdeMo being the least popular by far.
- There are still CHAdeMo connectors in most charging stations, but this will stop being the case in many new charging locations going forward.
Simply put, CHAdeMo is the past and CCS is the future.
Is It Wrong To Buy An EV With CHAdeMo?
This begs the question: if you have just purchased a CHAdeMo electric car (such as a Nissan Leaf or Kia Soul EV), have you made a mistake? Or is your EV going to lose loads of value, due to it having a CHAdeMo plug?
The good news is that, as covered earlier, charging stations with the CHAdeMo plug are still fairly widespread. So if your EV supports CHAdeMo, you won’t find yourself unable to charge your EV at these existing stations – but you might have to queue up, if someone is already using them.
Also remember that your EV will have a “slow charge” port too, such as the type 2 inlet of the Nissan Leaf for basic charging. Whilst this is a lot slower, if you’re able to use this at home you will be able to recharge most of your EV’s battery overnight.
This means that you should always be able to charge up your EV, even if CHAdeMo plugs were to suddenly disappear overnight. But it could be an inconvenience at times.
In terms of re-sale value, it’s been widely known in EV circles that CHAdeMo is (slowly) dying out, and so the market has broadly priced this into second-hand car values. Heck, used Nissan Leafs are known to be pretty cheap – and whilst this is partly due to their poor range, the plug format is sometimes an additional factor.
How To Convert Away From CHAdeMo (E.g. To CCS Chargers)
If you already have an CHAdeMo car or charging station, you might be wondering if you can easily convert this to support CCS instead? Unfortunately this isn’t really possible.
It isn’t practical (or safe) to physically modify your EV to have a CCS port, instead of a CHAdeMo port. Some companies are exploring this as a service, but it’s not a mainstream option currently.
And you can’t really get CHAdeMo to CCS adapters, either. The two charging formats are too different, meaning that you can’t buy an adapter and use a CCS station with your Nissan Leaf, sadly.
In short, if you want to ‘convert’ away from CHAdeMo, it’s probably better just to change your EV. You don’t need to rush out and do this immediately because CHAdeMo will still be around for now, but it’s worth bearing in mind when you come to upgrade your current EV.
As we have looked at, CHAdeMo used to be a fairly prominent charging standard worldwide – especially due to the success of the Nissan Leaf. But since the Leaf has been discontinued and most other EVs are using CCS (or the Tesla supercharger format), CHAdeMo is moving towards obscurity.
It will probably continue to have prominence in Japan, alongside the CCS format, but if you are looking to buy an EV and you don’t live in Japan, you should ensure that it doesn’t have “CHAdeMo” mentioned anywhere!
Otherwise your shiny new EV might become harder and harder to charge as the decade rolls on.