• Apr 12th 2011 at 10:01AM
  • 23


A scuffle over different types of connectors for plug-in vehicles has derailed Europe's attempt to adopt a standardized charging plug. According to EurActiv, this highlights "industrial jealousy" as the plug-in vehicle sector grows to enter the mainstream automotive market. The European Union's "focus group on electro-mobility" had aimed to adopt a connector standard for recharging plug-in vehicles by the end of March, but a battle between rival designs has postponed the decision.

Sources close to EU's focus group reportedly told EurActiv that France and Italy expressed safety concerns over Germany's plug design. The German connector was expected to be adopted as the European standard, but the French and Italians blocked it for reasons that are thought to extend beyond the plug itself. EurActiv reports that an undisclosed source with close ties to the EU's focus group said that the scuffle, "is very regrettable and it is clear that industrial interests are at stake."

[Source: EurActiv | Image: Jonas Dalidd / AOL]


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  • 23 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Scale up USB until it can cope with 50kW
        • 4 Years Ago
        Standard USB is too easy to insert upside-down, thus shorting things out (it happens far to regularly, though fortunately not yet to me). Notice all other variations don't have that problem.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why can't we just have one worldwide standard EV plug (the J1772)?

      It works, it would bring costs down if it were the same everywhere, and it would save having to have adapters.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7?
        Certainly, I agree with your side more, that it makes more sense to have the more expensive charger off-board (this is more related to J1772 + CHAdeMO vs having Mennekes handle up to 43.5kW than with three phase specifically).

        However, having the connector support 3-phase also (the car doesn't necessarily support it), seems to make it a superior connector (or at least more flexible).
        • 4 Years Ago
        @rcappo
        The biggest problem about J1772 is that it doesn't support 3-phase, which is an issue in Europe since 3-phase is widely available. The Mennekes connector is actually compatible with J1772. You just need an adapter. It's actually a more superior connector. If the Europeans didn't have nationalistic bickering, they might have decided on this standard first and successfully convinced the US to use it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Given the numbers on the ground (Volt, Leaf, Ampera) and backing by GM, Toyota, Nissan, etc. one may expect J1772 (the 5-pin one on the right) is moving quickly to become the de facto standard in the US and will likely push into locations elsewhere simply based on known volume.

        The Chadmo and Italian/French plugs are both dead ends.

        If the German Mennekes connector can be harmonized with the J1772 connector, at that point, we're all set for the foreseeable future.
        • 4 Years Ago
        jake:
        Given that the charger is in the car, putting in a 3-phase charger that will be rarely used might not make sense. It might be cheaper if chargers that want to run off 3-phase just convert the power internally and offer it as single/split phase to the car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Absolutely! It's ridiculous to have different plugs.

        Some suggestion for the worlds plugs.

        UK - Opposite to the rest of world, and poorly made, Doesn't matter because the factories been on strike since 2006 due to worker stress at having to update 1938 bake-lite design.
        France- Very avant-garde, impossible to figure out.
        Italy- Stunningly beautiful design, always faulty, impossible to repair.
        Germany- Industrial over engineered, always works, but only in Germany
        Switzerland- Superb workmanship, totally reliable, prohibitively expensive
        USA- Waiting for UN 'mandate' to effect 'regime change to US model
        Japan- Actually working
        PRC- Japanese model, copied badly with defects, sold cheaply.
        ROC- Japanese model, copied very well
        S,Korea- Japanese model, improved on
        Australia- Any of the above shoved in with brute force and adapted with a bit of No 8 fencing wire.
        Russian- No where to plug in, But Boris can get one cheap from his contact.....
        Irish- Connects to tap.

        Well, that should have upset everyone, maybe I can get a spot on Top Gear

        No doubt, right now some Korean or Taiwanese is working on a universal adaptor!
      • 4 Years Ago
      In a way, its actually good that the standard takes a longer time to work out. Hopefully this gives a chance for finding a solution that enables really high powered fast charge.

      Again, CHAdeMO is at 62Kw already and being deployed in large numbers ( over 600 stations in Japan according to http://www.chademo.com/ ) , whatever gets adopted in EU and US should NOT be inferior.
        • 4 Years Ago
        chademo is not economical for all uses. DC chargers are expensive, EVSEs are cheap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The original article does not bring into mention a competing standard, but I would not be surprised if the Italians and French do not have something already in mind. Also, with the argument that is being presented, I do not see why a plug could not be modified to meet the requests of the Italians and French. Shutters that open when inserted into the socket on the vehicle do not seem too complicated to add to an existing standard.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This WiKi better explains the current situation in Europe and the next steps :
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_62196

      Despite I'm French, for me there is ZERO doubt that the German Minnekes plug is a lot better than Italian plastic plug also supported by France since Schneider bought the Italian company who designed it. Nobody seams to be willing to show a basic picture of that Italian plug.... because it's a ridiculous plastic plug with 3 x ranges of 2 x connectors, presented at last Paris Motor show making all serious people laugh at it. That dead end could not do anything usefull for the future of the EVs anywere, so I bet there may be other bargainnings behind the scene on that argument (Patents licencies to use German plug ?).

      Clearly the German plug has everything required for overnight home charging for today and for tomorrow too (Perfect for 3xPhases 22KW chargings right now, that could recharge a best dream 500Miles 130KWH battery in 6H = overnight, and current 24KWH Leaf battery in a little >1h). It is just missing tomorrow "fast DC charging capability, for on the road", while outside the home, that only the CHAdeMO plug can handle today. Wiki quotes an effort to do very high power DC charging via Minnekes up-date to be agreed by 2013....So I'm more curious on where the Germans sit on that key improvement, for our future.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree we should have world standard connectors but I'd like them to be a lot more elegant than all of them so far. why not a flat connector with 2 main poles, maybe optical between them for communication. a bit like a thick fork. round and the size of a fire hose is unnecessary.
      it doesn't take much copper to carry even 400A.

      and a 3phase plug is also uncalled for. a battery can't store 3 phase electricity anyway so of course you just rectify it into 2 poles before the plug..

      the smaller the plugs the less of a barn door port on the car it will need. that's especially important if you want ports several places on the car which you likely do
        • 4 Years Ago
        FEV, I don't think anyone uses chargers of a design that would be called an inverter.
        inverter is a somewhat bad word used to describe DC to AC converters, typically battery powered AC motor drives.
        a charger is a DC provider. there is no good reason for giving 5 pin 3 phase AC to a battery charger. DC or pseudo DC is fine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes I read that, but there's usually little if no demand to do that in charging station for all different cars when the inverters inside the car can manage everything after the car is plugged in (unless cars are using simpler and cheaper chargers instead of inverters).
        • 4 Years Ago
        FEV; I know 3 phase exists in europe. I live in Europe. what I said if you read what I wrote is that it should simply be rectified before it's fed to the car. the power is not reduced by that and the car has no use for 3 phase.
        • 4 Years Ago
        IEC 61851-1 ("Mode 4": 400 A / 1 kV DC) already has that kind of plans for the 2013 timeline. That means quite a lot of power that only a few nanobatteries can handle.

        Reminded that IEC photovoltaics use also 1 kV DC and require 2.5 to 6 mm2 conductors to move 40 A at 85 degrees Celsius ambient temperature. You still need to take account some space for proper insulation, so we'll see in next years what kind of cables they end up with for Mode 4.

        1-phase doesn't seem to fly beyond the Mode 1 (1 x 16 A / 250 V AC) conductors. 3-phase is already widely available and will be more so (in Europe) for the future smart grid installations. Modes 2 (3 x 32 A / 480 V AC) and 3 (3 x 63 A / 480 V AC) are already three-phase. (Amps and Volts used were maximum, not grid, values.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's an idea: whoever manages to produce the first European electric car for sales to the general population (no renting or limited fleet schemes) gets to decide which plugs to use.

      It's ironic that the last countries to get their EV act together cannot agree on simple things.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ehh.. not so much. Renault (a French company) is most likely to get the most EVs out in the near future. Daimler's castrated Smart ED notwithstanding.

        But it's the French (and the Italians) that are putting up roadblocks to the well designed Mennekes plug (IEC 62196 Type 2). They're trying to promote their own (IEC 62196 Type 3) that is no better as far as I can tell. The Mennekes is ready to go and so far Renault has already been using it.

        They're claiming safety, but this has more to do with politics, profits, and nationalism than anything else.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If the Europeans don't get their act together, it'll be the Japanese (Leaf) & American (Volt / Ampera) standards that the Europeans end up ratifying based on de facto compatibility requirements.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let me guess, the over-engineered version on the left is German. I see a more complicated and expensive desgin to manufacture. And all of those 'keyed' protrusions don't make me confident it'll be reliable. The one on the right looks like an old Amp-style military connector. Almost indestructible in my experience.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Try again. The German connector looks a lot more like your assumed military connector than the CHADEMO. I'm glad they are trying to figure this out right now. I personally like the Mennekes since it is ONE plug for 3.7-43.5kW charging. The IEC 60309 that i believe the French prefer is great because it is readily available and installed in a lot of locations in Europe. It's drawback however is that it defines a whole range of plugs with color coding for voltage combined with a variety of pin layouts and that it can be pretty big. Since some of the utilities in Europe are rolling out stations with the Mennekes connector this might force the hand of the focus group.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No this image if from the Nissan Leaf. The connector on the left is the TEPCO Chademo DC fast charging connector. The one on the right is the Yazaki J1772 connector. Both have nothing to do with the story, so I don't get why they are shown.

        The relevant connector is the Mennekes (type II) connector, which I personally think is better than both shown.
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