Automakers team to demo standard charging system

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EV charging station

EV charging stations will someday be as common as gas pumps. Image: MJ/TR/Flickr/CC BY

The problem with electronic devices is compatibility between makes. Can you imagine if all cell phones used the same type of charger? That would make public charging stations possible and convenient. Such is the thinking behind a coalition of eight automakers, who want to make a standard interface across electric and plug-in hybrid models.

A standardized charging system

Whereas cell phone chargers are portable and relatively inexpensive, this is not so for quick-charging systems for electric vehicles. It makes sense for rival automakers to agree on this point. It will save everyone money and speed up the implementation of the system if a standard platform for charging vehicles is shared by all automakers.

It will also garner good will from consumers, who should be pleased that, for once, manufacturers have considered the customer convenience as well as its own profits.

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Eight automakers team up

Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have all teamed up to work together on a standardized fast-charging system for EVs and hybrids. The system they have all agreed on will be demonstrated at the Electric Vehicle Symposium 26 in Los Angeles from May 6 to May 9.

Universal plug

BMW issued a press release saying that all eight automakers will have a hand in the demonstration. According to that release, the demonstration will show that, by adopting a standard universal plug style, the Combined Charging System will work on any EV or hybrid made in Europe or the U.S.

Adopted as industry standard

The new Combined Charging System, which is capable of charging vehicles with various power requirements, has officially been adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers as the standard charging system for future EVs and hybrids. It will publish the official report of the standard in the coming summer. All eight automakers have new models in development that will adopt the universal plug configuration.

The European Association of Vehicle Manufacturers has also selected the new interface as its standard, and automakers will be required to put it in all EV and hybrid vehicles starting in 2017.

Cordless charging systems

The U.S. Department of Energy said in March that it would be willing to fund the development of the right feasible wireless charging system to the tune of $12 million. Several companies are competing now for that money. Wireless systems use an electromagnetic field to transfer energy and power-up batteries without the need to physically plug a vehicle in.

However, according to Torque News, cordless charging stations will not interfere with the usefulness of the Combined Charging System. Cordless charging will not be high-speed and will likely be more expensive than plugging in, so owners will enjoy the convenience of plugging in at home for a cheaper, quicker charge. Power can then be topped off at cordless stations while on the road.

Nissan and Toyota on the sidelines

Conspicuously absent from the group of automakers are Nissan and Toyota. Nissan’s Leaf is the best-selling EV in the U.S. However, Autoguide speculates that the two reluctant automakers will eventually adopt the system to save cost and implementation time and to skirt customer complaints.


Torque News

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