Electric Vehicles Ready to Charge Ahead

The two IEC International EV Standards reflect a global consensus on the plugs and sockets that are needed to charge EVs. They pull together the huge volume of research and development surrounding EV charging mechanisms from around the world, whilst addressing the diverse electricity infrastructure and regulations in different countries.

With their help it may be possible to avoid the very real risk that incompatible solutions would be developed by separate organizations in different regions, something that would clearly be against the best interests of the worldwide vehicle manufacturing industry. Different national approaches would thwart the mass marketability of EVs, requiring customizations that would lead to higher prices and slower market access.

A clear call for International EV charging Standards

Major car makers predict that up to 10% of cars sold in 2015 will be EVs and Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes-Benz, declared at a major motor show a few days ago: "Internal combustion engines’ days are numbered…". With major manufacturers and countries driving this technology forward, related infrastructure development simply can’t wait.

At the EV strategic Round Table organized by the IEC and e8 in Washington DC in January 2011, and more recently at the International Conference on Electromobility Standardization at the Frankfurt Motor Show, global car manufacturers, utilities and suppliers expressed the urgent need for International EV charging Standards.

Says Ronnie Amit, CEO and General Secretary of the IEC: "The IEC has clearly heard this call from industry and doubled its efforts to reach consensus on the most appropriate EV charging systems. The two newly published IEC International EV charging Standards represent the first step towards satisfying this urgent market need and provide the basis for stakeholders to build the EV charging infrastructure."

IEC International Standards: setting a baseline for EV development

There is no doubt that differing regulations and legacy electricity networks hamper the development of uniform global EV charging stations. Without international solutions, this could easily lead to a situation where vehicle manufacturers would have to produce numerous product variations in order to meet the EV charging requirements of each country.

The two new IEC International EV Standards define a limited set of options which each country and manufacturer can choose from. This will ensure that EVs and the components needed to charge them can be used in as many countries as possible, bringing down costs for manufacturers and potentially increasing EV attractiveness to consumers.

Formulating common standards is not easy under the best of circumstances and the many historic differences in electricity infrastructure further complicate this task. Nevertheless, because of IEC’s well established process and international approach these two International Standards will allow vehicle manufacturers to develop products that can operate across a wide range of markets. Rather than imposing completely new approaches, they build on three sets of plugs and sockets which are already widely accepted.

What do these two newly published International EV charging Standards cover?

IEC 62196-1 contains the general requirements for the charging system, while IEC 62196-2 standardizes three types of mains connecting systems, known as Types 1, 2 and 3.

• Type 1 – single phase vehicle coupler (vehicle connector and inlet), for example Yazaki or SAE J1772 (Japan, North America)
• Type 2 – single and three phase vehicle coupler and mains plug and socket-outlet without shutters, for example VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2
• Type 3 – single and three-phase vehicle coupler and mains plug and socket-outlet with shutters, for example SCAME plug developed by the EV Plug Alliance.

Which of these is appropriate depends largely on the electrical infrastructure and regulatory conditions in each country.

The above standards build on IEC 61851-1, which defines the four modes of charging an EV from a power source.

• Mode 1 (AC) – slow charging from a standard household-type socket-outlet
• Mode 2 (AC) – slow charging from a standard household-type socket-outlet with an in-cable protection device
• Mode 3 (AC) – slow or fast charging using a specific EV socket-outlet and plug with control and protection function permanently installed
• Mode 4 (DC) – fast charging using an external charger

Modes 1 to 3 are estimated to allow an EV to be fully charged in between three and ten hours through direct connection to a mains supply. Mode 4 could fully charge an EV in under ten minutes, but as it uses off-grid batteries it is the most expensive to implement.

IEC 62196-1 applies to all four of these modes while IEC 62196-2 applies only to mains charging (Modes 1 to 3). A third standard, IEC 62196-3, is being developed to standardize DC charging (Mode 4).
In addition, IEC 61851-1 also defines three cable and plug setups which can be used to charge EVs: Case A, where the cable is permanently attached to the EV; Case B, where the cable is not permanently attached to anything; and Case C where the cable is permanently attached to the charging station.

Standards to match regulatory parameters

Taken together, these Types, Modes and Cases allow manufacturers to work to common standards within which they can meet the regulatory requirements across differing markets.
For example, Italy and the United States have limited Mode 1 charging on safety grounds, while Mode 3 is receiving a lot of interest in the United States and Europe for public charging points and Mode 4 is favoured in Japan.
Furthermore, technical constraints mean that all Mode 4 cables need to be permanently attached to the charging station (Case C) and United States regulations demand that Mode 3 charging stations also have Case C cables.
The newly published International EV charging Standards IEC 62196-1 and IEC 62196-2 offer clarification by standardizing the plugs and sockets which can be used in different electricity infrastructures.

The IEC is the world’s leading organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". It brings together 163 countries and close to 10 000 experts.

IEC International Standards include globally relevant technical specifications and metrics that allow electric or electronic devices to work efficiently and safely with each other anywhere in the world. IEC work covers a vast range of technologies from EVs, renewables, power generation, transmission and distribution, including Smart Grids, to home appliances and office equipment, batteries, nanotechnology, communication protocols, to mention just a few. The IEC supports all forms of conformity assessment and manages Conformity Assessment Systems that certify that equipment, systems or components conform to its International Standards.