Common standards for electric cars key to mass appeal  

Posted by Big Gav in

Reuters has an article on the need for common standards for recharger plugs for electric vehicles - Common standards for electric cars key to mass appeal.

Automakers will need broad, political support to come up with a common standard for plugs and infrastructure for electric cars if they are to become a convenient option for consumers, they said.

Auto executives gathered at the Geneva auto show this week said a lack of standardization could become an issue when the zero-emission cars start to sell in larger numbers by mid-decade, as they compete with low-emission hybrids.

"Standardization and harmonization is a big critical issue in Europe," said Michel Gardel, vice president at Toyota Motor's European operations. "Because for now if we travel from Denmark to Italy you have to change your plug four times."

Reaching a common industrial policy for anything is a headache in Europe, where governments prioritize domestic interests, sometimes at the expense of regional harmony and convenience for consumers.

That could be a problem for electric cars when they eventually become capable of going longer distances, for cross-border travel.

"What we're trying to do as an industry -- and it's tough, because there are a lot of competitive issues -- let's make sure that we have one plug," Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan alliance, told fellow participants at a World Economic Forum session in Davos earlier this year.

"Because if consumers start to say, 'If I move from one country to the other and I have a different plug, a different device, it's a problem. For the suppliers it's a problem. For the electricity companies it's a problem," he said, according to a transcript of the closed-door session seen by Reuters.

Executives at Renault and Nissan -- which together want to lead the electric vehicle (EV) field -- downplayed any immediate problem for electric cars, saying they expected drivers to use them for commuting and short-distance driving, plugging in mostly at their home charging stations.

"It's not a show stopper," Simon Thomas, senior vice president of Nissan's European operations, told Reuters in Geneva on Wednesday. "At the worst, it's a minor inconvenience."

Even without a common standard, Thomas said, consumers would most likely have an extra cost of just a few hundred euros to buy a different cable to plug in.

"It's not optimal in that all the car makers would like to have one standard everywhere in the first European countries that are launching (EVs). But everyone is working on it," said Beatrice Foucher, product head at Renault.

1 comments

It would seem that we need a worldwide standard. Establish it early.

And I would suggest that the design should be robot-charging ready.

We've already got gas pumps which can open/fill/close gas tanks. Think how easy it would be to build a motorized arm which would connect a stationary charging station to an EV.

One could top up at a rapid charging station without even getting out of their car. Lots of people would pay a few hundred dollars for the convenience in their own garage.

If plugs are standardized and connection locations standardize within a reasonable range on EVs then designing an auto-plug system would be simple.

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