Without an established industry standard for quick-charge electric vehicle (EV) stations, the city of Chicago has still decided to go ahead with a program to install seventy-three, $65,000 public charging stations, which would only charge Japanese-made EVs. The automotive industry has standardized 120 and 240 volt plugs — those primarily used in the home — but have not yet set a standard on the plugs or ports that can charge vehicles in 30 minutes or less. Because this, the Chevy Volt and the Ford Focus Electric will be left out in the cold when it comes to quick-charging in the Windy City.

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Photo by M.O. Stevens

Policy makers around the world are working together to try to standardize the plugs, much the way that gasoline nozzles are standardized. However, at the moment, German, Japanese and Italian standards are in a close race to the finish line and no one has pulled away as a front runner. The seventy-three quick-charge stations in Chicago will only be able to accommodate the Mitsubishi i MiEV and the Nissan Leaf – two Japanese-made vehicles. But while the city of Chicago has chosen to install the quick-charge stations to suit Japanese made models, they say that they will update the stations to align with any new standards, should they be applied.

Because of the lack of an industry standard, American EV manufacturers have decided to put their cars on the road without quick-charging capabilities. Currently the vehicles only have a standard Level 2 port — a port that accepts 120 and 240 volt charges. EVs need special plug-in ports in order to accept quick charge cables, so the American-made vehicles are not capable of charging quickly.

“With so few fast-charging stations available now or in the near future, we felt it was best to wait for an industry standard rather than include a plug that could end up outdated or unused,” said Megan Whatman, a spokeswoman for Ford Motor Co. the manufacturer of the Ford Focus Electric.

Via Chicago Tribune

Lead image by Bin im Garten