Volvo Calls for Standardized Electric Car Charging

Volvo XC90 at a charging point 5 photos
Photo: Volvo
CCS Charging plug/ Combo 2 DC PlugIEC 62196 “Type 2” (female)CHAdeMO charging socket (left) on an all-electric Nissan Leaf. An SAE J1772 socket is also shown on the right.Volvo XC90 charging on public socket for EVs and PHEVs
Volvo is asking other carmakers to agree upon a standard for charging plugs designed for battery-powered vehicles.
The Swedish manufacturer is a member of the Charging Interface Initiative and proposed the Combined Charging System as the norm for plug-in vehicles.

The CCI is a consortium of stakeholders that includes several car brands and specialized suppliers and which has introduced a combo plug for electric vehicles in 2012. The Combined Charging System supported by Volvo includes both DC wires and AC connectors, so the electric car and its charging plug would work across the Globe without any issue.

The CC System was first unveiled in October 2011 in Baden-Baden, at the 15th International Congress of the Association of German Engineers. Seven car makers had agreed to the proposed system by the middle of 2012, with the brands that decided to use the new connector being Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

Furthermore, the same seven carmakers have agreed upon the HomePlug GreenPHY communication protocol for the plug designed for battery-powered vehicles. The standard is intended for use in the smart electric grid, and was initially designed for smart home appliances, but was deemed appropriate for use in plug-in vehicles.

However, this communication protocol and the plug proposition contradict proposals from Japan and China, which suggested a CAN Bus solution, and a separate DC connector, respectively. More importantly, none of the carmakers in the two countries agreed upon the Combined Charging System at the time.

As Volvo points out, the proliferation of electric vehicles and the elimination of range anxiety will only happen when Governments, carmakers, and suppliers arrange adequate EV charging networks across all markets.

So far, four types of connectors have been used for charging plug-in vehicles sold to the public. Without any particular order, we will start with the IEC 62196 “Type 2,” which is used on the European Tesla Model S. The second charger is the “SAE J1772 connector,” used in North America and Japan, and found on Nissan Leaf and other models like the defunct GM EV1. The third system is the “CHAdeMO JARI Level 3” DC charger, developed in cooperation with Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Subaru. Last but not least is the Combined Charging System suggested by Volvo for use as an international standard.

Do you feel confused yet? In case you have hoped for a revolution of the electric vehicle, or, at least, an extensive introduction of plug-in hybrids, we have bad news for you.

Smartphone makers still haven't agreed upon the same type of charger, and it gets even worse, as electric appliances themselves do not have the same kind of plug because of different standards of electrical networks.

This incompatibility should not come as a surprise to anyone, as the world still has not agreed upon measuring units for temperature, distance, and mass. We are thankful that humans have the same standard for the measurement of time, though. Unfortunately, that does not go for calendars, as some countries rely on other systems.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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