European charging station standards a welcome move

The European automobile manufacturers' trade association (ACEA) recommended one plug/connector for all electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids regardless of the OEM.
By Helena Perslow, IMS Research September 28, 2011

The European automobile manufacturers’ trade association (ACEA) announced last Thursday (Sept. 22, 2011) that it has defined a set of recommendations to standardize the charging of electric vehicles. This would mean one plug/connector for all electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids regardless of the OEM.     

This is a welcome initiative which addresses one of the biggest issues hampering the future of electric vehicles: the lack of standardization. The lack of one, ‘true’ standard has so far resulted in the development of at least three ‘standards’ running in parallel worldwide for charging stations and connectors, whilst the charging equipment existing electric vehicles come with literally varies from OEM to OEM. The current sentiment is that the opportunity to work on a joint venture to standardise chargers and connectors has gone and passed. This announcement from the ACEA is therefore welcome news.

Naturally, one main question remains: Will this announcement actually mean that we will see a standardisation as, after all, this is only a recommendation? With millions already spent on research and development for current solutions, it is unlikely that OEMs will be happy to see their efforts being discarded after just one announcement. The difference here, and the reason why this initiative can be successful, is that the recommendations have not been put together by politicians far removed from the automotive industry, but in a joint effort by all major OEMs in Europe. Having the OEMs on board is key to driving this standard forward.

Despite all of the above, the ACEA does not anticipate full implementation for at least another vehicle cycle, aiming for MY 2017 (when IMS Research forecasts that 7.8% of all vehicle production will be some type of EV). This means that the mix of current approaches will continue for some time, frustrating OEMs and consumers alike.