When you own an EV, there's nothing worse than not being able to charge when you need it most. For owners of the Nissan Leaf, finding a hookup is even harder thanks to the car's unpopular CHAdeMO charging port. The Leaf's long-term usability looks even poorer, as Nissan appears to be neglecting to provide adapters for more popular port standards.
When asked by The Drive, a Nissan spokesperson did not say it was developing an adapter to allow the Leaf's CHAdeMO charging port to interface with the more widespread CCS and NACS charging plugs. This leaves many questioning the implications for a vehicle model that despite its recent poor sales, has had a strong presence in the EV world with numerous examples still on the roads.
When questioned about potential adapters, the spokesperson simply outlined the company's plans going forward. "We have only announced plans to adopt the NACS charging standard for CCS-equipped vehicles. Starting in 2024, Nissan will make available a NACS charging adapter for newly sold Nissan ARIYA models which are currently equipped with CCS," they told The Drive. "Nissan continues to support our LEAF drivers with the continued installation of CHAdeMO connectors at fast chargers throughout the U.S."
Nissan will soon switch to delivering vehicles to the U.S. and Canada with NACS ports as standard, but the Leaf won't be getting that upgrade. The Leaf is now the only current EV on the U.S. market to still use CHAdeMO, which never quite caught on.
The looming discontinuation of the Leaf model suggests CHAdeMO could die with it, at least in the American market. New charger installations are increasingly likely to prioritize NACS and to a lesser extent CCS, with CHAdeMO stations slowly dying out over time. Some networks began phasing the standard out years ago. It's a concern for existing Leaf owners, who already have to contend with limited charging options. Things will only get worse for the CHAdeMO faithful from here.
Data from the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that CHAdeMO is lagging behind CCS and NACS in terms of available chargers. A search for DC fast chargers using CCS ports turns up 12,090 ports spread over 5,906 stations. NACS charging is available at 21,081 ports spread over 1,918 locations. CHAdeMO is a distant third, with just 7,463 ports available at 5,158 locations.
With Nissan not offering a first-party solution, owners would typically look to third-party ones. However, building an adapter to charge a CHAdeMO-equipped vehicle from a CCS charger poses some sticky engineering challenges. This is largely due to the different ways the two standards were designed, in terms of safety locks, connection sequences, and communications protocols. It's a similar story for NACS, too.
These challenges are not insurmountable, as proven by some homebrew solutions, but they make any such adapter an expensive proposition to design and manufacture. Given the limited market of CHAdeMO users, it's not a tempting investment for aftermarket companies. Plus, with the safety and dependability of first-party solutions generally being more trusted, this may not be the ideal solution many Leaf owners were hoping for anyway.
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