Issue: Aug 2013

Connecting agreements for single e-mobility charging plug

by Jon Knox

Representatives of German and Italian Standardization Bodies and experts of German and Italian industry have reached a breakthrough compromise on a common proposal to the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) as a step towards standardizing charging plugs for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The agreement is an important step towards achieving the single e-mobility charging infrastructure as required by the European Commission. The compromise foresees using the Type 2 socket outlet with an optional shutter for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Type 2 plug was introduced into the international standardization process as early as 2009. It supports both single- and three-phase charging and enables far greater powered charging and shorter charging times than the couplers used in Japan and the United States, which only support single-phase charging.

The availability of a single safe and efficient charging infrastructure enabling electric cars to be charged whatever their make and no matter where they are located is vital for the breakthrough of electromobility in Europe and the world in general. The option of using a shutter takes into account specific concerns in Italy and some other countries, and the special market requirements there. Compatibility with the Type 2 socket outlet that does not have this shutter - as used in the majority of European countries - is catered for in the agreement.

Over recent months Italian and German experts from standardization and industry have been working intensively to harmonize requirements for the different types of charging plug and charging modes according to the standards EN 62196-2:2012 and EN 61851-1. Important points of discussion were the mechanical shutter used in some countries (including Italy) in combination with the socket outlet for charging, and the specific requirements regarding the charging infrastructure for lightweight vehicles. For charging these lightweight vehicles, which include scooters and three or four-wheeled vehicles, it was also agreed to propose that the Type 3a socket outlet may be used either with or without a shutter. The European Standards EN 62196-1:2012 and EN 62196- 2:2012 published in 2012 by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) already describe plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors and vehicle inlets for electric vehicles, but did not set a single standardized charging solution for the whole of Europe.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Torsten Bahke, Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Institute of Standardization (DIN) in Berlin what impact the new standards for charging plugs will have on the electric vehicle market.

Bahke: The announcement by the EU Commission in January this year that an AC and DC charging system based on the standardized type 2 system is to be implemented in Europe will boost not only customer confidence but also that of investors in the electric vehicle market. This will have a positive effect, not only on infrastructure development and on the visibility and the commercial rollout of electric cars, but will also facilitate the creation of attractive business models.

AI: Tell us a little about version 2.0a of the latest German Standardization Roadmap for Electromobility.

Bahke: The roadmap, available in English and German, was drawn up by the Standardization Working Group of the German National Platform for Electromobility, established in 2010 by the German government. It gives an overview of the current standardization landscape, considers the different systems, identifies a number of gaps where work needs to be done and finally makes a number of recommendations, weighted for urgency. These recommendations are of clear international relevance as almost all standardization work in the electromobility area is undertaken at international level. Version 2.0a of the roadmap, which was published in May 2013, also reviews the present implementation status of all recommendations made hitherto.

AI: How has this roadmap impacted Germany’s and indeed Europe’s efforts to promote electromobility?

Bahke: The roadmap has had an impact at both the national and the international level. It serves as a point of reference for all stakeholders in this area as a document in which the most urgent issues that need to be taken up by industry and science are defined. These issues are of global relevance and its international character has been duly recognized by the European standardization organizations as well as by experts in China, the USA and other countries. As the first national roadmap to be published, it gave a strong impulse to other countries to draw up similar roadmaps and strategies of their own. The next step will be to coordinate the salient points of these strategies in order to achieve a globally harmonized understanding as to how the rollout of electric vehicles may best be achieved.

AI: How receptive are automotive manufacturers and infra¬structure and service providers to efforts towards standardiza¬tion of charging of vehicles, billing and payment issues.

Bahke: Irrespective of the different approaches under discussion at international level, the role of standardization as an enabler in the implementation of electromobility has gained wide acceptance in all branches in the last few years. The standardization of interfaces, particularly, is considered to be of prime importance, and good progress has already been made in this direction. As examples we may cite the standards for the connector and for the communication between EVs and grid, both of which involved long and hard discussions of the respective merits of the different national approaches. Other important standardization projects concern vehicle safety and energy storage. A basic requirement of industry is that the systems we are developing now are upwardly compatible for the integration of future technologies. This demand can be met by standardization, which allows the development of the necessary framework conditions without limiting technological innovation.

AI: DIN has been trying to promote electromobility standardization in other regions – such as China – how successful have these efforts been?

Bahke: In line with the needs of German industry, DIN is very active at international level in maintaining existing co-operations and creating new ones. The successful introduction of electromobility largely depends on Europe, USA, China, Japan and Korea working together to establish international harmonization. The German-Chinese Working Group on electromobility, established in 2011, is an excellent example as to how experts of two countries can be brought together to pool their expertise. To strengthen cooperative ties with the USA, we will be adding our support to the coming negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement.

AI: What in your mind is the biggest challenge for global harmonization for electric vehicle charging, and how do you think these can be surmounted?

Bahke: Talking about electromobility means talking about a very heterogeneous field with a large number of different players from different branches. Bringing together all these players and their different ideas at national and particularly at international level is probably the biggest challenge. Communication, co-operation and the willingness to find a consensus are the key elements in meeting this challenge and in creating – step by step – a systematic approach for the rollout of electromobility. Using the instruments of standardization addresses all these key elements, which is why it remains vital to successful market implementation.

AI: What are your predictions about the growth of electromobility?

Bahke: One of the success factors for electromobility is the progress that can be achieved in R&D, especially as regards the energy storage system. In this context, a decisive success factor will be how fast the results of R&D can be introduced into actual products, how fast inventions can be turned into innovations. The development of normative specifications can help facilitate this process by making R&D results publicly available quickly and by creating a basis for further standardization. In 2014, several manufacturers will be launching new electric vehicles on the market, and the charging infrastructure will also be expanding, which means there will be a significantly higher visibility for these vehicles and increasing acceptance by potential customers. Thus, in the longer term, electric vehicles will certainly become an economically and ecologically attractive option, especially in urban areas.

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