Auto manufacturers agree on specifications to connect electric vehicles to the grid

The industry recommendations will enable the relevant EU standardisation bodies to make rapid progress with defining a common interface between the electricity infrastructure and vehicles throughout Europe. The recommendations also provide decisive guidance to public authorities that are planning investments in public charging spots.

“This is an important step towards the successful deployment of electrically chargeable vehicles in Europe. A uniform and user-friendly charging infrastructure is a prerequisite to build a market”, said Ivan Hodac, Secretary-General of ACEA, the automobile industry’s trade association in Brussels.

“We want to avoid a situation where customers have to carry a multitude of charging cables to use their vehicles in different cities, regions and countries, just as we see today with items like mobile phones.”

The European specifications could form the basis for a global standard. Japanese and South Korean manufacturers have been closely involved in developing the joint industry recommendations for the electric car in the European market.

The joint specifications cover, in a first step, charging of passenger electric cars and light commercial vehicles, both at home and at public charging spots. During a transition period, customers will be enabled to use the different plugs already on the market.

A uniform solution will become standard for all new vehicle types by 2017. The auto industry expects to make recommendations for quick charging and heavy-duty vehicles shortly.

The European automotive industry is key to the strength and competitiveness of Europe. The ACEA members are BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler, FIAT Group, Ford of Europe, General Motors Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, Porsche, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault, Scania, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen and Volvo. They provide direct employment to more than 2.3 million people and indirectly support another 10 million jobs. Annually, ACEA members invest over €26 billion in R&D, or 5% of turnover.

Presently various field projects in relation to electric vehicles are in place across Europe and elsewhere in the world, and broader market introduction will pick-up in 2011 and 2012.

Most stakeholders assume a realistic market share for electrically chargeable vehicles in the range of 3 to 10% of new sales by 2020 to 2025, depending on how quickly the most immediate challenges can be addressed.

The internal combustion engine using conventional fuels will still be the dominant source of power in the coming decades. That is why progress must also continue to increase the environmental performance of more conventional propulsion systems as well as fuels, and the automotive industry will sustain its efforts in this field. Government policies must continue to include these CO2-efficient technologies and solutions in their overall sustainable mobility policy approach.

Electric vehicles include:

* Battery electric vehicles (BEV) with no other power source than the battery

* Extended-range electric vehicles (EREV), which use battery as main energy source for daily trips, but use a combustion engine driven range-extender running on hydrocarbons to sustain the battery and to overcome range limitations

* Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which use battery as main energy source for daily trips, but run in common hybrid mode, with use of the combustion engine running on hydrocarbons, after batteries are depleted