Making the right connections for electric vehicles
International and European Standards provide a technical “lingua franca” for trade partners throughout the world and help remove technical barriers to trade.
With the sale of electric and hybrid vehicles picking up speed, there is a need for an international standard for the connection to the charging point (or plug). The European Commission in Brussels has proposed the “Type 2” specified in IEC 62196-2 as the common standard for charging ports in Europe for AC and “Combo2” be the common standard for DC quick charging. European carmakers are in agreement with US manufacturers that the way the Society of Automotive Engineers’ combo standard, which integrates DC quick chargers with Level 2, is the right way to go. Neither group is supporting the Japanese CHAdeMO fast charger, which is already available in vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishii-MiEV, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Kia Soul.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Rüdiger Marquardt, member of the Executive Board of DIN, the German Institute for Standardization, what the impact of the European decision will be.
Marquardt: The announcement by the Commission was certainly a very important first step in the direction of a common charging infrastructure in Europe. What the industry needs, and even more so their potential customers, is a single standardized system that gives everyone involved long-term certainty that no matter where they are in Europe and whatever electric vehicle they are driving, they will be able to charge their batteries with the minimum of trouble. The Type 2 connector combined with the DC charger, known in Europe as CCS (Combined Charging System), in conjunction with the vehicle-to-grid standard specified in ISO/IEC 15118, represents such a system. The growing adoption and implementation of CCS will in turn increase customer confidence and lend further impetus to the installation of the necessary infrastructure. More charging points makes for greater visibility at street level, and greater visibility and greater confidence will boost sales of electric vehicles.
AI: Tell us a little about version 2.0a of the latest German Standardization Roadmap for Electromobility.
Marquardt: 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 gaps where work needs to be done and finally makes a number of recommendations, weighted for urgency. Version 2.0a of the roadmap, which was published last May, 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?
Marquardt: Because it defines the most urgent standardization issues that industry and science need to address quickly in order to avoid problems with interfaces, safety, storage etc., the roadmap has aroused a good deal of interest in Germany. Yet these are issues that obviously concern manufacturers and other stakeholders in all countries where an electric vehicle market can develop. As the first national roadmap to be published, it has encouraged other countries to draw up similar roadmaps and strategies of their own. Our colleagues in the USA, for example, with whom we cooperate very closely, have now also drawn up an electromobility roadmap. Although these roadmaps are national documents, their goal is international cooperation.
AI: How receptive are automotive manufacturers and infrastructure and service providers to efforts towards standardization of charging of vehicles, billing and payment issues?
Marquardt: That standardization can act as a catalyst in the development of innovative technologies is now a widely accepted fact. The electromobility sector is no exception. All branches of industry involved here see the need for internationally agreed standards. The standardization of interfaces, in particular, is naturally of prime importance, and we have already made good progress in this direction at international level. Examples include 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. Standards on vehicle safety and energy storage are also now in the pipeline.
AI: DIN has been trying to promote electromobility standardization in other regions – such as China. How successful have these efforts been?
Marquardt: The international standing that DIN enjoys and the reputation and strength of the German automotive industry, whose standardization interests we represent, mean that our voice carries weight in international debate, and we are making every effort to bring all key players together. We enjoy excellent relations with our Chinese counterparts. The German-Chinese Working Group on electromobility, established in 2011, is a prime example as to how experts of two countries can be brought together to pool their expertise. To strengthen cooperative ties with the USA, we are adding our support to the current negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. We have also been consulting with our US colleagues at SAE and ANSI how best to coordinate these activities. At government level, discussions have now begun with Japan. We are confident that we will reach solutions that will benefit all concerned.
AI: What is the biggest challenge for global harmonization for electric vehicle charging?
Marquardt: In emerging markets, there is a temptation to adopt the “winner takes it all” approach or to try and protect the domestic market by building a wall around it. At the moment, we see that the international EV-community is earnestly seeking common solutions. Communication, co-operation and the willingness to find a consensus are the key elements in standards work. Ideally, a solution is found that all concerned can live with. One of the success factors for electromobility will be the progress that can be achieved in R&D, especially as regards the energy storage system, and how fast research results can be introduced into actual products. Specifications such as DIN SPEC that are developed on a consortia basis within the standardization system can help facilitate this process by making R&D results publicly available quickly. For us as a standardizing body there are also specific challenges. Electromobility clearly involves a multiplicity of actors from a wide range of technical disciplines. Our main challenge, then, is the coordination of the whole process – monitoring standardization worldwide in order to avoid duplication of effort, identifying and getting the relevant experts to the table, and managing the efficient development of the standards that the market needs.
AI: What are your predictions about the growth of electromobility?
Marquardt: We are optimistic. Several manufacturers have already launched or will be launching new electric vehicles on the market this year, and the charging infrastructure will also be expanding. That means there are more electric vehicles on the road, more discussion of them in the media, more people see them at the charging points, more have an opportunity to drive one for themselves. This significantly higher visibility, coupled with “What the industry needs, and even more so their potential customers, is a single standardized system that gives everyone involved long-term certainty that no matter where they are in Europe and whatever electric vehicle they are driving.” increasing acceptance by potential customers who can rely on a single charging and billing system will, we feel, ensure that electric vehicles become a highly attractive option, both in economic and ecological terms, and especially so in urban areas.
AI asked Toshiyuki Shiga, President of CHAdeMO Association of Japan, what impact the new standards for charging plugs will have on the Japanese OEMs.
Shiga: It would be ideal for auto manufacturers to be able to deploy the vehicle with common charging standard to global market. In addition, all the stakeholders have to be very careful not to confuse the market/customers, as a result of charging standard discussion, since it may discourage the e-mobility sales as well as the investment for charging infrastructure deployment. Thus it may slow down the e-mobility penetration that is one of the urgent issues for the environment protection. This is an issue for the entire auto industry.
AI: With the CHAdeMO standard effectively being phased out, what is your organization’s advice to Japanese OEMs?
Shiga: First of all, the Directive proposed by European Commission and being approved by the European Parliament and the Council of EU does not describe bans on charging standards which do not comply with the European standard. In fact, an informal agreement is already reached between the Commission, Parliament and the Council (called Trialogue session), that quick chargers (QC) to be installed after January 2017 shall be equipped with at least one COMBO connector. This allows multiple standards to co-exist in the market. The CHAdeMO association welcomes and supports such direction, and will continue to monitor the official approval phase to follow, and take necessary actions in collaboration with respective entities from both global environment/ customer convenience perspective. We believe this is the right direction especially given 2/3 of all passenger EVs on the roads today are compatible with CHAdeMO.
AI: How will the industry cater for multiple standards?
Shiga: The CHAdeMO Consortium believes that Multi standard QC (a charger equipped with multiple QC connectors) is the most practical solution since it can serve all the QC needs. The majority of European charger manufacturers have already introduced the multi standard QCs in the market.
AI: Are we on the right road to global harmonization?
Shiga: It would be ideal to have a single common charging standard common, but the timing target to make that happen needs to be carefully reviewed. A number of CHAdeMO QCs are already installed in the market (1000 in Europe, more than 3500 globally), and CHAdeMO technology continues to evolve based on the feedback from the market. Standard communization should be the way to go to further improve the reliability and user friendliness of QC technology through sharing the market experience and know-how with other charging standards