Global EV Charging Standard for Interoperability Expected Later This Year

By · July 24, 2013

CHAdeMo and SAE Combo Cord

The SAE combo cord is on top. The CHAdeMo DC Quick Charge cord is on the bottom. Work is being done to allow the various protocols to be interoperable.

All the requirements for a global interoperable standard for electric car charging have been identified and a fully validated standard should be out by August, said Ted Bohn, a power electronics engineer at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility, in an interview with PluginCars.com.

The new global standard will be called J2953. By August, Ecotality, a leading manufacturer of charging equipment, will begin running repetitive tests with various charging units and vehicles. The standard should be finalized and published by this December, said Bohn.

What would the standard mean to rank-and-file electric car drivers seeking a charge in public? Well, wouldn’t it be great if you could plug your electric vehicle to any public charger, and know with absolute certainty that it would work? That is, you would know that the vehicle, regardless of the make and model, could communicate with the charging unit, which could talk to the utility, and all parts of the system would speak the same language? Electric car owners don’t have that assurance right now.

In early June, EV experts in the United States and Europe established centers to create global standards and technology for plug-in electric vehicles. All the players in the electric car world have a stake in achieving interoperability, said Bohn. “For the consumer, all I want to know is when I plug my car in, it will work,” he said. “For an EVSE maker, I don’t want to upset the customer,” by having something go wrong.

Argonne National Laboratory and the Department of Energy and are taking the lead here in the U.S. The EV-Smart Grid Interoperability Center was established in early July at Argonne’s site in Lemont, Ill. “It’s a gateway to adopting standards and policies that will expand the use of EVs on the road,” Argonne director Eric Issacs told the Chicago Tribune.

Global interoperability involves more than just having a compatible plug. It requires harmonized standards and test procedures as well as compatible enabling technologies including communication controllers and messaging protocols, metering, and plugs. Automakers, EVSE producers, and utilities are all involved, said Bohn.

Utilities want to be able to manage the load on their grid and ensure they don’t have stranded assets in the future, Jason King, spokesperson for Pacific Gas & Electric told PluginCars.com. A stranded asset is an investment in equipment that can no longer be used for the initial purpose, he explained. For example, those who bought a Betamax device now have a stranded asset, said King. “The biggest benefit for our customers, in knowing that their investments (in the charger and vehicle) are not wasted,” he said.

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