LECTRON Tesla CCS Adapter: First Impressions

My family and I have a road trip to Canada coming up soon, and for the first time I’m going someplace — a small town in BC, Canada — where there aren’t Tesla Superchargers within range once I arrive. Even with a full charge from an overnight L2 charge, I can’t make it back onto the Supercharger network to continue my journey to Calgary (due to elevation and the fact that I bought the Model 3 SR+ rather than the LR which had 70 more miles of range). 🤷‍♂️

So I’m going to head east, and along the way there are no Superchargers, only CHAdeMO and CCS L3 chargers. Typically charging at around 32 miles per hour of charging, L2 chargers are too slow for a road trip unless you really don’t care when you get there. I need a way to connect my Model 3 to one of these L3 charging standards, and because:

  1. CHAdeMO is an old standard, being rapidly replaced by CCS
  2. Tesla doesn’t have their own CCS adaptor sold anywhere but South Korea (!!?)
  3. The Tesla CHAdeMO adaptor is sold out online

…I figured I’d buy the LECTRON CCS adaptor off Amazon that, at the time I ordered it, had zero reviews. And it was $600. 😮 What could go wrong? 😜

This is a simple, bullet-point first impressions post meant to get something online fast, not a detailed, well thought-out review. I have too many of those already sitting in my WordPress drafts folder. 😉 So here we go…

  • I tried to update the firmware before using it, and not only is it Windows-only (no macOS option), the updater just crashed and gave me an error over and over. Not a great first impression.
Crash, crash, crash.
  • It has to be used in a particular sequence (powered on, wait until green, connect the adaptor to the charger plug, wait 10 seconds, then connect to Tesla). The first charger I went to, I didn’t follow that sequence exactly, and it failed so I thought it was the EVgo charger and left. This was after two phone calls to EVgo, them rebooting the whole charger, etc. We tried everything. I did charge via a Tesla plug at that same charger, so we deduced it was probably the LECTRON CCS adaptor that was at fault (but really it was me that was at fault…classic PEBCAK error even though I was standing). 🙄
  • It’s comically huge and surprisingly heavy. It takes a reasonable amount of strength to connect and disconnect it, and it’s clumsy as hell. A smaller person with smaller hands may find it very challenging to use.
  • I’m concerned about the amount of pressure it puts on my M3. The weight of the adaptor + the CCS charger, all pulling down at a particular angle, puts a lot of pressure on a very small part of the car. I have no idea if Tesla engineered the charging port for that kind of weight.
  • I went to an Electrify America charger, followed the right sequence this time (RTFM!), and charging started. Oddly it stopped about four minutes, no explanation. It could be because I started multiple charging sessions back to back – it told me to move my car each time – and the charger was confused, but I’m not sure.
  • For the first time ever, I was a bit envious of other EVs I saw there that could just plug into these chargers without adaptors.
  • It charged at 42kW. That was giving me about 181 miles of charge per hour, which is 5x more than I can get from my L2 charger at home. Good stuff. That’s far slower than a Tesla Supercharger, but fast enough for reasonable road trip times.
  • After the successful partial charge, I went back to the EVgo charger to see if using the correct sequence would result in it charging. It did. I got 11 minutes of sustained 41kW charge before manually disconnecting. No issues.
  • The next test is to find an L3 CCS charger that puts out more power to see how much power the adaptor can take and if it’s stable (according to LECTRON, it’s limited to 50kW on my M3). That’s my big fear taking this thing on a road trip: that it will just flake out. I’m thinking about paying over market value for the Tesla CHAdeMO adaptor just to have something I *know* will work instead, though I consider it a bit of a waste of money given CCS is the future. I don’t know anyone with the Tesla CHAdeMO adaptor so I can’t borrow one.
  • I’m irked that Tesla doesn’t have a CCS adaptor for us owners and we’re having to use these third party adaptors in the first place. Why aren’t they selling a first-party adaptor in North America?
  • It uses microUSB to charge, which in 2021 for $600 is ridiculous. It should be USB-C. But also it’s one more thing to keep charged, using a deprecated connection standard. I also can’t help but chuckle at the idea of 40kW+ of electricity flowing through this adaptor, but it won’t work unless you plug a tiny microUSB cable with a trickle of electricity to charge it before hand. It’s probably too complex to siphon off the incoming charge to power the adaptor itself, but a guy can dream. 😉

So will I keep this or return it? I want to do more testing. It’s not a great product, that’s for sure, but it may be good enough for what I need.

5 Reasons Why I Bought An Electric Vehicle

Five years ago, in 2014 when I was looking for a new vehicle, I actively researched electric vehicles (EVs) and test drove a Chevy Volt. I was keenly interested in EVs. The Volt drove how it looked – which is to say, uninspiring – and for the price I thought the interior was cheap. It just wasn’t compelling.

There were really no other viable options for me at my price point (Tesla’s were a far off $80K+ dream), so I instead purchased a fun little zippy car: a Mazda 3 Touring in red. When I bought it I loudly proclaimed (mostly to myself) that it would be the last gas vehicle I’d ever buy. How much did I believe this? Well, when we moved into our new house in 2012 I had the garage pre-wired for EV charging on both sides – I knew the future that was coming even if I couldn’t get the EV I wanted…yet.

Zippy, fun, and small: this is “Little Red”.

The Mazda 3 didn’t get driven much until 2019 since I worked from home much of the time – it still had that new car smell even after a few years. Most of the miles were put on our Canadian 2009 GMC Acadia (fondly known as “Big Red”) as my wife drove our kids to and from school (30 minutes each way). We also drove Big Red on at least one big road trip back to Canada each year – it had 123,000+ miles on it and was a solid vehicle for our needs…but it was time for a change.

Continue reading 5 Reasons Why I Bought An Electric Vehicle