Monday, February 12, 2024

Tesla-Rivaling 'Ionna' Charging Network From Seven Automakers Starts Taking Shape

In North America, there are primarily two main charging standards for electric vehicles:

SAE J1772: This is the standard connector for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. Level 1 charging typically involves using a standard household outlet (120 volts AC) and Level 2 charging involves using a dedicated charging station (240 volts AC). The SAE J1772 connector is widely used and compatible with most electric vehicles sold in North America.

CCS (Combined Charging System): CCS is an extension of the J1772 standard and is used for DC fast charging. It adds two additional pins to the J1772 connector to accommodate DC charging. CCS is widely adopted by many manufacturers and is becoming increasingly popular for DC fast charging infrastructure across North America.

These two standards cover the majority of electric vehicles on the market and provide compatibility for both slow and fast charging needs. Additionally, Tesla vehicles come with their proprietary connector and charging infrastructure, but adapters are available for Tesla vehicles to use public charging stations that support J1772 or CCS connectors.

Why is this important?

Compatibility: Charging standards ensure that EVs from different manufacturers can be charged at various charging stations. This interoperability is essential for EV owners, as they need assurance that they can charge their vehicles at any compatible charging point, regardless of the manufacturer.

Infrastructure Development: Standardized charging protocols encourage the development of charging infrastructure by providing a clear framework for equipment manufacturers, utilities, and governments to work within. This, in turn, helps in the expansion of charging networks, making EV ownership more convenient and accessible.

Consumer Confidence: Standardized charging solutions give consumers confidence in the reliability and safety of EV charging. Knowing that their vehicle can be charged at multiple locations using standardized connectors reduces anxiety about range limitations and encourages more people to consider electric vehicles as a viable transportation option.

Market Growth: Charging standards facilitate the growth of the EV market by streamlining the manufacturing process for charging equipment and reducing costs associated with developing proprietary solutions. This can lead to lower prices for charging infrastructure, making it more economically feasible for businesses and governments to invest in EV charging networks.

Regulatory Compliance: Standardized charging protocols often become part of regulations and standards set by governments and industry bodies. Compliance with these standards ensures that charging infrastructure meets safety and performance requirements, promoting trust among stakeholders and regulators.

Overall, charging standards play a crucial role in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles by promoting interoperability, infrastructure development, consumer confidence, market growth, and regulatory compliance.

So what is Ionna and why is this news?

Last summer, seven of the world's biggest car companies announced they were joining forces to tackle America's EV charging woes head-on. Now that fast-charging joint venture has a name and a CEO. 

Ionna has received approval from regulators and is officially spooling up operations, the company announced on Friday. Its CEO is Seth Cutler, who previously held various executive roles at EV Connect and Electrify America, two charging networks. 

The venture, a collaboration between BMW, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis (the European owner of Jeep, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo and many other brands), aims to alleviate the charging anxiety that deters so many car buyers from going electric. Ultimately, that should help them sell more cars. 

In July, those companies announced plans to blanket North America with at least 30,000 high-powered charge points, thousands more plugs than Tesla's vaunted Supercharger network currently offers. That's a welcome development for the EV world, seeing as America's charging infrastructure is kind of a hot mess right now. 

There aren't enough public plugs available, and the ones that do exist suffer from nagging reliability issues. (The Supercharger network is the outlier here in terms of both user experience and convenience, but it was historically off-limits to non-Tesla owners.)

Where this Conversation leads?

Come to Everything Electric in Vancouver Canada, September 6-8, 2024.  The event will be a focal point for groups with vested interests in all competing standards as well as a place for consumers to jump into the conversation.  

The conversation needs more than corporate perspectives. It needs input from consumers, who ultimately have to pay the price for multiple standards.

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