A common criticism for EV fast-charging sockets is that they’re big and chunky, or as internet slang goes, they’re “chonky” like a fat cat. Probably the best example of this criticism was when Aptera promoted its petition to Congress to have Tesla’s much smaller and sleeker plug be the US standard instead of CCS. While this petition may have been a publicity stunt or an attempt to get Elon Musk’s attention (among other theories I’ve come across), they still have a good point. CCS sockets, especially when powered by a huge liquid-cooled cable, tend to be quite difficult to handle. CHAdeMO sockets are even larger in most cases, like something you would see on an aircraft carrier.
But I have bad news. If you are deeply bothered by the massive size of the CCS and CHAdeMO sockets, do yourself a favor and don’t continue reading this article, because the little tears you might shed on the CCS will turn into a nervous breakdown and possibly a bleed. cerebral. once you see what is happening at a truck stop or airport near you.
The Megawatt Charging System (MCS) is the big chunk of charging sockets
When the Looney Tunes hosts decided to do Wabbit Twouble in 1941, they probably had no idea that what they were drawing would end up becoming a popular internet meme in 2017-19. By mocking a very fat version of Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny blasts himself into a very obese bunny, at least temporarily. Since then, “big chungus” has become a symbol for anything huge, tall, or otherwise larger than life.
Now we see electric vehicle charging going in that direction. Why? Because the CCS charging socket is only designed for about 350 kW, and future semi-trailers, aircraft and other large road vehicles that need to charge with more than one megawatt of power need a larger socket. big to get that power safely. their batteries.
Here is a video showing the new disabled system:
The video above doesn’t give you much of a close up of the plug itself, but I did manage to find a video of Atlis that shows it in someone’s hand, close up, with a plug even bigger which the team thinks would be better.
Why the bigger plug? Because the new MCS prototype connector is only for DC fast charging. If you want to use an AC charge of any type, whether it is a 120 volt “trickle charge”, a 240 volt “level 2” charge or a 3-phase AC using an industrial connection, the vehicle will also need to have a CCS socket. So the triangular socket is even heavier if you consider that it will have to live next to a CCS socket.
I have no idea how likely the MCS socket proposed by Atlis will be successful, as I have no knowledge of the internal politics of CharIN (the body that decides these things). But, given that it could be an all-out jack for medium, heavy-duty, and shipping/aviation, it makes a lot of sense.
Why it’s important for small vehicles
It doesn’t matter what semi-trailers, small ships and planes use to load the catch. These plugs don’t really need to be “stylish” as much as they need to work well and be durable. Function trumps form when it comes to industrial and heavy-duty work. So why is it important that MCS sockets are big AF?
It doesn’t make much sense to me personally, but there’s an obsession with replicating the gas station experience with fast DC charging. To charge even a sedan or hatchback in five minutes, you’re probably talking about megawatt-level charging. 10 and 15 minute charging is already a reality with the 350kW CCS outlets, and I don’t think it’s worth spending and consuming extra power just to save 5-10 minutes.
A human being, even when riding in a self-driving vehicle, will want to get out, stretch their legs, have a snack or a drink, and pee once in a while, and you can’t do that in five minutes. Gas car drivers fill up and then already park near the convenience store or truck stop, so they don’t hit the road in 5 minutes either, in most cases.
But the silly 5-Minute Load obsession is a tacky idea, even if it’s based mostly on lies. So there will be cars and vans with MCS sockets in a few years. That will make a lot of sense for something like a future F-350 Lightning or a Silverado EV HD because their big batteries will need a megawatt charge just to fill up in half an hour and haul a 20,000 pound trailer. further down the highway. But, some manufacturers will decide that the big plug is necessary on a sedan or hatchback just to save a few minutes of charging time that no one needs to save.
At this point, it’s probably wise for the industry and the EV community to start talking about it. Aesthetics and ease of use are just the tip of what could be a trend that is devastating to the environment and taxing on the electric vehicle charging network.
What we need to encourage and discourage here
Above all, we need to ensure that efficiency continues to be part of the conversation. Instead of pumping megawatts of energy into an electric vehicle, we need to encourage manufacturers not to abandon efficiency so recklessly. Not everyone needs to drive an Aptera, but we could wipe out the gains of an EV transition if everyone started driving things like the Hummer EV and more just because it’s cheaper and “green ” now.
The other thing we need to talk about is where the MCS sockets are installed. It makes perfect sense to install MCS stations at places like truck stops, airports and docks. It makes sense to place one or two at a normal charging station for large pickup trucks and medium-duty vehicles (U-Hauls, box trucks, motor homes) to use when hauling large loads as well. However, it makes almost no sense that they are available in every stand like the CCS and CHAdeMO outlets are today.
We also need to question the wisdom of giant batteries and fast charging for most large electric vehicles. There are very many medium and heavy vehicles that never make long trips today. They often sit overnight next to a warehouse or sorting facility, then travel only a few dozen miles on their normal daily delivery route. No one needs a megawatt recharge for these short range vehicles that are not in use 24/7 and cause people to unnecessarily replicate the gas station experience for these vehicles is wasteful and expensive.
If we can keep megawatt charging in the niche roles it belongs to, it doesn’t matter how big the outlets are for those vehicles. But, if we’re stupid and let thoughtless fools push the industry to use the MCS plug for everything from motorcycles to bread vans, we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice.
Featured image: A screenshot from the Atlis Motor Vehicles YouTube channel showing the current MCS socket prototype (left) and their larger but more useful proposal (right).
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