Tesla has joined the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN), an organization formed a few months ago by several automakers and EVSE manufacturers with the mission of promoting technical standards for the Combined Charging System (CCS), and working to increase its capabilities.
Observers of the charging scene differ as to the significance of the move. In the past, Tesla has had little good to say about the CCS standard. “It looks like it was designed by committee, and things designed by committee are not really great,” said Elon Musk in 2011. Tesla created a proprietary standard for its Superchargers, and has never expressed any interest in abandoning that in favor of CCS.
CharIN’s immediate goal is to increase the CCS charging level from 50 kW to 150. Some Tesla Superchargers already support up to 135 kW (some CharIN members have hinted that, in the longer term, power levels could be increased to as much as 350 kW).
On the other hand, Tesla has long said that it’s open to collaborating with other automakers on fast charging. It may see its membership in CharIN as a way to help improve charging technology for the good of all.
David Herron, writer of The Long Tailpipe, thinks something more momentous is going on. He writes that Tesla “has picked a side in the fast charging debate,” and speculates that the company might redesign its Supercharger stations to use CCS. This would present several technical difficulties, such as finding a way to authenticate users, but it would make Tesla the world’s largest provider of open-standard DC Fast Charging.
It would also probably mean the demise of the competing CHAdeMO standard, which Herron, for one, doesn’t see as a bad thing. “Electric vehicle consumers need there to be a single fast charging protocol,” he writes.