back to article US, Euro e-car makers back 'standard' AC/DC jack

Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen have joined Ford, Chrysler and General Motors to back a standard fast-charge connector and jack for e-cars. The system combines a multi-pin AC port with a two-pin DC inlet. Slow, but cheap, overnight charging is handled by the AC lines, but drivers will be able to use the same …

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  1. Robert E A Harvey
    IT Angle

    IT angle

    This may displace the claims of the Power over Ethernet people that their socket is the only 'power outlet' which is the same in every country on earth.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: IT angle

      Clearly you missed the bit about Japanese cars having a different socket.

      1. Robert E A Harvey
        Facepalm

        @Lost all Faith

        Oh Aye.

        Back to PoE then.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      New measurement!

      Actually, that inspires a thought: how about expressing the charging time in PoE minutes? Not sure what the max is, but for e-cars it will be a whopping big number - maybe worth using "PoE weeks" instead..

  2. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge
    WTF?

    Is it just me....?

    Looking at the picture of the plug, is anyone else put in mind of a startled-looking woman with big norks?

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me....?

      I hope you never have to take a Rorsach test!

    2. groovyf

      Re: Is it just me....?

      I see the bottom part of the plug has taken its cue from Bender's face.

  3. S4qFBxkFFg

    I see 4 pins in the socket that don't correspond to the plug - what are they for?

    1. Colin Miller

      3-phase?

      As a guess, the centre is Earth, the top left/right are Live/Neutral,

      and the four others are for 3-phase charging (with Neutral).

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Mushroom

      @Extra pins

      Split phase, signalling and vehicle detection.

      There's some pretty hefty voltages (600 VDC) and currents (400 A) involved as well.

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAE_J1772

  4. Xpositor

    What was wrong...

    ...with micro USB?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: What was wrong...

      You try running 500V @ 200A through a wire less than 1MM thick. Let's just say you won't have much of a wire (or connector) a moment later. Dealing with current that beefy takes a decent amount of metal to keep the works from melting from its inherent resistance.

      1. easyk
        Happy

        Re: What was wrong...

        bull crap!. all you need to do is wire in 10,00 of them in parallel

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Charles 9

        Fails the Turing test.

        Prepare Charles 10, increase Sarcasm detector thrshold 10%...

      3. GeorgeTuk

        Re: What was wrong...

        I think Charles, you may have missed the joke on that post.

        Nevermind it is Friday!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Micro USB

      When I clicked on this article I though maybe the manufacturers had agreed on something to replace that useless 'cigar lighter' socket.

    3. Steven Roper
      Stop

      Re: What was wrong...with micro USB

      Well, for one thing, maybe astromech droids like R2D2 need to be able to tell the difference between a data port and a power socket?

  5. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    That has to be the ugliest socket I''ve ever seen in my life. Even SCART and DVI were more elegant.

    What was wrong with just putting a pair of DC pins side by side in a large-enough connector, and maybe one small one for some kinda "sense/data" pin that could also act to key the connector's polarity? AC pins are going to differ in voltage and frequency anyway and you're going to have them handle them in the car by, well, converting them to DC. Surely that's better done at the fuelling station AND home charger than anywhere else, otherwise they would just add weight to the car and be skimped upon (and be upgrade-proof!)?

    Or is this is a drive to "sell" you 100 KWh of AC electricity that is only 90KWh once you have DC losses and only 80KWh once your battery gives you it back? Push the thermal / conversion losses onto the poor sap stupid enough to buy an electric car?

    Still have yet to actually see anyone in real life top up an electric car, though, and I live inside the M25 and do an awful lot of driving.

    1. Blofeld's Cat
      Mushroom

      Connector design

      Remember these are intended to be used by the general public in "filling stations". We are also talking about a lot of current, voltage and power. Up to 600 VDC at a 400 A (240 kW)

      These are the same people that occasionally drive away with the petrol nozzle still attached...

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: Connector design

        And how does that help make the connector more complex (and the same connector is used for "home" fill-ups too - that's one of the stated points of the standardised, dual-power adaptor!)?

        That amount of power, in a female socket means you have to jab metal objects into the end to short it. It will be suitably fused, but more importantly it will probably have contact-sensing (like any modern "jumpstart" battery - if you short the connectors at any point, no power flows - power is ONLY applied when it's probed the other end and found a load that's suitable for charging and operates on dumb principles because lead-acid batteries don't have any circuitry!). Failing that, the "keyed" connector should ensure that there's contact and could even be designed to relay correct physical contact of the connector back to the "pump" which only switches on when it's been told that the connector is mated properly (can be as simple as a spring-button lock on the connector that only operates when "latched" into the correct socket).

        If it hasn't, I refer to my original point - what a crap, overcomplicated connector.

        And I'd rather have two huge meaty inch-thick DC cables that do auto-sensing than all that gumph which just looks ripe to go wrong in the case of a sheared cable or damaged connector (you're telling me that little old ladies trying to force that into their car's port sideways for years at a filling station won't eventually break those plastic interiors and make the AC contact the DC?).

        It just seems an incredibly ugly, overcomplicated and poor design to make dual AC/DC connectors and pumps and then rely on convertors inside your car (and your problem if they blow up and you can't charge your car any more) rather than just pushing ONLY DC and doing all the messy, expensive conversion before you shove things down a standardised, minimalist connector that needs as little as possible done to it afterwards and metering it from actual, usable DC power at the point of filling.

        1. Blofeld's Cat
          Boffin

          Re: Connector design

          Lee,

          Could I politely suggest that you read the specification as it considers most of your issues.

          You may also wish to read up on current battery technology, as I think you will find that very few electric vehicles use lead-acid batteries.

        2. Ru
          Boffin

          Re: "rather than just pushing ONLY DC"

          If your car accepts standard AC, you can charge it anywhere regardless of the availability of charging equipment. You could just nail a suitable plug onto the end of a standard domestic power lead or industrial 3phase outlet... this is pretty much how basic home charging is done on most e-vehicles anyway.

          Making the charger optional makes life easier for everyone, except the sorts of people who get angry about power sockets.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Blofeld's Cat
          Unhappy

          Re: Connector design

          It wouldn't be beyond the wit of man to automatically stop the e-car from driving off if the charger's attached!

          Quite so. Unfortunately people tend to underestimate the capabilities of idiots.

          Motorhomes have interlocks to prevent the engine being started if they are plugged into a hook-up bollard, and yet I repair or replace several hook-up bollards every year.

          It just takes a small piece of grit, a loose connection or the supply being turned off and twang!

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      ".....the design has to be formally approved by SAE members in a ballot."

      It's designed by committee. Think of it as the electrical equivalent of a camel.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Not sure if it's really committee or if it's simply a ballot to be returned using an Stamped Addressed Envelope..

    3. Alan Firminger

      Guesswork

      Look at the pictures. And remember that cars travel around.

      The plug mains connector shows what we can assume is two pins and earth. There is also space for different configurations around the earth.

      The socket shows five pins for mains and a blank space. One pin has to be neutral.

      The plug will give connection to one of four voltage options.

      Your car has an input voltage appropriate to the market, which means you have a connector that selects what it wants. Public recharge stations, perhaps in hotels and car parks, offer all the voltages.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh

    And from the headline I thought it was a marvellous new way to power sat nav and mobile phones while travelling from A to B.

    Icon is for me.

  7. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Anti tamper?

    So how do you stop the local chav's unplugging your car/nickig your cable as they pass?

    no shackle point I notice.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Anti tamper?

      IIRC the AC part of the plug's designed to be used in an enclosed setting, such as a garage. If the chav can get into the garage to reach your plug, you have bigger problems than them making off with the cable.

      As for the DC part, this is meant for quick applications so exposure there would be limited: more like at the filling station.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Anti tamper? @Charles9

        The charging stations I have seen so far (in LocGov owned/operated car parks) do not have their own cables attached as far as I could see.

        I have never seen any of these bays occupied - though the maximum stay 4 hours sign Sunderland Council have inflicted on these bays may have more to do with that.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Anti tamper? @Charles9

          >: do not have their own cables attached as far as I could see.

          That's because such cables are likely to suffer the same fate as garage airlines. Give the charging point a socket, and have the cable attached to the car. That way you have some change of finding a usable charging point.

          Or just use a liquid like biodiesel or ethanol. Tried & tested.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Anti tamper? @Charles9

            "Or just use a liquid like biodiesel or ethanol. Tried & tested."

            And then rejected. Diesel is too polluting, and biodiesel too low in volume to use mainstream. Meanwhile, ethanol isn't as powerful as petrol and can't be produced in mainstream volumes without eating into food supplies. Meanwhile, synthetic petrol production is still in the initial phases. I would be great if it worked out, thought we'd still need a source of vast power to produce it all (*yawn* call me when you can present a cost-effective land-effective non-fossil non-nuclear power plant design in the 2GW range or so--then we'll talk).

      2. Steve Button

        Re: Anti tamper?

        Charles 9, errrr No. these things are popping up outside of many buildings (like the office I'm sitting in which has a couple, although I've never seen them used). It's a really good point about anti tamper. It just needs a place where you can attach a padlock or something similar, but you just know someone is going to be left sitting on the tarmac because a) someone has decided to maliciously unplug them or b) someone else with an electric car hijacks your juice.

        1. TheRealRoland
          Happy

          Re: Anti tamper?

          Ah, that's what someone else tried to say -- use your tongue to start the siphoning of the electricity into your own car!

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Anti tamper?

      They'd be too busy sticking two pounds into a charging station and then finding ingenious way to blow it up like connecting it to a nearby lamppost, arcing them to each other, sticking their finger in it or whatever else.

      Electric cars are a really stupid idea at the moment anyway. Charge time in hours is the cause of the problem you describe and one of their biggest downfalls. A tank-filling time in minutes means most people don't leave the car unattended while fuelling. A similar charge time would do the same but because of the sheer huge nature of the power involved (the equivalent of a tank full of petrol, which is extremely safe considering its energy density), it's not going to happen for a very, very, very long time and even then still be more dangerous.

      Hopefully, we'll stop all this electric junk soon and come up with something that's likely to actually work better than a milk float (all-electric since the 1960's, I believe).

  8. cs94njw

    Still in shock. Both the EU and the US agreed on a power standard!?????!??

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Yeah. The US agreed on 120V, and the EU on 230V!

      (Crazy thing is that I've seen a number of US homes that have an "electric furnice" (heater) in the garage that run the heater from 220V)

      1. easyk

        <unverified information from memory> US homes typically get two 120V lines and a neutral. The 2 lines are 180 degree out of phase and can be used to power 240V appliances.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You are correct. Each hot side typically fused or circuit breaker limited to 60-200 Amps.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          lmgtfy @easyk

          No, not two 120V lines. Residential distribution is single phase 240V. There are transformers on the poles with a center tap. Every house has three wires: two hot and one neutral/ground connected to the center tap on the transformer and to ground in the house. Use the two hot wires, you get 240V; use one hot and the neutral you get split-phase 120V. The electric panel divides half the 120V circuits on one hot lead, and the other half on the other lead.

          Electric water heaters, stoves/ovens, heating systems, clothes dryers, and the rare heavy duty appliance all run on 240V; everything else runs on 120V.

          Is that the same as two 120V lines that are 180° out of phase? Seems like it could be hard to keep two independent 120V feeds in phase; easier (if more expensive) to use a transformer to split a single phase 240V supply.

          1. easyk

            Re: lmgtfy @easyk

            thats why i hire an electrician for anything more advanced than switches and light fixtures. :)

      2. Alan Firminger

        230 volt supply was agreed as a European standard giving an acceptable compromise between the continental 220 volt standard and the UK's 240 volt. This was settled about 1988, I am not going to research that - just accept a long time ago.

        Prior to this and after we all had and have a supply spec within plus and minus 6 % . The continentals had many supplies below tolerance, so they made an effort and solved two problems, probably helped by a grant from Brussels.

        There are still 220 volt goods on the continent and many of us have legacy 240 v items. No matter.

        1. Alan Firminger

          This is better

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity#Standardization

  9. Crisp Silver badge

    Awesome

    Dare you to stick your tongue on it!

    1. TheRealRoland
      Happy

      Re: Awesome

      What, afraid that your tongue will freeze to all that metal in the winter?

  10. nozzo
    Facepalm

    and inside the car

    please can they replace the hideously clunky 'cigar lighter' system for something that doesn't move around, fall out, short etc..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gender confusion?

    I always thought the connector with the metal pins in it (the male) was called the plug, and the opposite was called the socket. If so, the pictures seem to have been labelled wrongly.

    Anon because I'm not 100% sure and I don't want to make a fool of myself.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Pint

      Re: Gender confusion?

      So they're actually a Slug and Pocket then?

      Now why have I just thought of the pub? Must be Friday.

  12. Steve Button
    FAIL

    What about a connector for the INSIDE of the car?

    Instead of having to hook up my tomtom / phone / etc to a bloody cigar lighter socket FFS.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: What about a connector for the INSIDE of the car?

      Many modern cars have one or more USB ports these days. Even my '10 reg mid range Kia.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They look

    Like robot "faces" to me.

    Try outs for Scutters in a big screen presentation of Red Dwarf?

  14. Armando 123

    That's nice enough ...

    ... but I still don't see the charging being quick enough that you can use this for long trips (and by 'long', I mean by US standards). Until that convenience is figured out, if it ever is, petroleum and possibly hydrogen will be better options.

  15. dotdavid
    WTF?

    Er...

    1. Create an electric car

    2. Profit!

    3. Finalise essential infrastructure standards

    Anyone else think they got some of that in the wrong order?

    Still I guess better late than never.

    1. ShadowedOne
      Go

      Re: Er...

      Oh I don't know, it seems to have worked well for the petrol powered car.

  16. Chris Miller

    Back of the envelope

    With a 100kW connector, you can charge your 30kWh battery in only 20 minutes (just time to get a cup of coffee). But how much heat does that generate? Do these vehicles allow for the dissipation of 10kW of heat (assuming the charging process is 90% efficient, which is probably wildly optimistic)?

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: disapating 10kW of heat

      That's what boils the water for your coffee.

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Back of the envelope

      >Do these vehicles allow for the dissipation of 10kW of heat

      Toast 12 slices of bread in one go?

      Up for that!

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Back of the envelope

        I bow to no-one in my enjoyment of toast with a nice cup of tea, but I don't think I'd want to heat them on the bonnet (hood) of my car!

    3. Orv Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Back of the envelope

      Most electric cars have a small radiator to dissipate heat from the electronics and in some cases the battery pack. I know on the Tesla the radiator fans will cycle on as needed during charging to keep the electronics cool; I'm sure other electric cars are similar.

      10 kW is about the equivalent of the waste heat from a 20 shaft horsepower engine. It doesn't take much to dissipate that. It's easy to lose sight of just how massive the heat dissipation from a traditional car needs to be.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about insertion force?

    I have had occasion to use the 32 and 63 amp standard 3 phase 415 volt plugs and sockets. A lot of force is required to mate and seperate them. Are figures for mating/seperating force for these new plugs availaible? How does it compare to the typical strength of an 75 year old female?

    1. easyk

      Re: What about insertion force?

      good point. the connector housing could be made with an integrated de-mating lever arm or some such mechanical advantage doo-hickey.

    2. Aaron Em

      Re: What about insertion force?

      Big handle on the back makes me think it takes a pretty good shove. (Fnar, fnar.)

      I'm more wondering why the socket's the side with the conductors exposed. Seems a bit risky to me.

  18. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    FAIL

    These connectors should be lockable (both ends)

    Even Top Gear noted that children (and 51-year old children) will be instinctively unplugging these if the recharging car is left unattended. The owner will come back to find that the range is "2 mles".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: These connectors should be lockable (both ends)

      Have you seen 'Home Of The Future' - C4, a bit ago? This is exactly what happened. Rather unfortunate.

  19. JustNiz
    FAIL

    DC pins

    I hope that the cable is actually the supply side and the socket block is whats fitted to the car.

    If not there's a big problem.

    Given they can be carrying up to 500V at 200A, and that DC tends to weld you to the connector, .the DC pins at the bottom of the socket especially, look way too easily touchable especially for small children's fingers.

    1. Esskay
      Thumb Up

      Re: DC pins

      That's correct - think of it like a petrol bowser, the "cable" is attatched to the pump, the hole is in the car. It's the same situation here.

  20. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Ceeform?

    What exactly was wrong with CEEFORM?

    Was it simply that it's already a standard for all the voltages and currents used, colour-coded, tested and has pilot pins available to ensure a good connection is made before applying power and to unpower during disconnection?

    I see no pilot pins on the plug shown, so this thing is really going to arc.

    It looks like it has all the disadvantages of CEEform and none of the advantages.

    No covers over the pins on either side, so kids can stick spoons in them.

    Send the designers home, they have no clue.

    Bring back the people who designed the UK plug.

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    *Something* like this had to happen

    It's a sign of moving out of the "Early adopter" phase into a more mature stage

    It's the difference between private mobile radio networks (the sort run by cab companies) and cellular networks with roaming.

    The joker in the pack is the chicken and egg timing between the infrastructure suppliers (who'll want to get the switchover started) and the EV mfgs, who'll want to leverage their existing (and incompatible) designs as long as possible.

    Hopefully this decision will let new infrastructure developers start rolling out a *common* connector at last.

    As usual with technology standards the question will be how fast will technology develop to the point this will have to be updated (are any of those pins "not connected" for later usage?).

  22. Walter Bays

    Standards - so many to choose from

    The plug isn't energized until a handshake protocol with the car assures that the plug is correctly inserted. So no danger in licking the plug, though I wouldn't do it as it would be unsanitary and foul tasting.

    Cars start charging at 50 kW and quickly ramp down. You get most of your charge in the first 10 minutes, and probably wouldn't wait much past 30 minutes. So using these DC quick charge stations you'd probably wait with the car or have a coffee nearby. For slower AC charging you'd likely be away from the car at a restaurant, movie, or shopping. And of course you no more need the AC and DC electrical plugs combined than you need your diesel and gasoline nozzles combined at the gas station.

    The car won't start while plugged in, so you can't drive away with the cord. Quick charging is more suitable for modest road trips than serious cross country trips, though these guys drove 1,254 km in 24 hours: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9NqSuk5gjQ

    Why wouldn't they adopt and extend the existing CHAdeMO quick charging standard that has thousands of chargers and vehicles already in place? The main purpose of the SAE appears to be to stall the EV market for a few years with the confusion of multiple standards, so that the sponsoring American and European car makers can catch up to the Japanese car makers.

  23. martinwinlow

    Er, ... so where does Mennekes (IEC 62196-2) fit in to all this? This socket is already the most widely adopted, non-Chademo type 2 socket in Europe and also championed by Daimler. Is this going to be abandoned in favour of the 'J1772 Combo'?

    Looking at the pins on the Combo, it looks like the top half is Mennekes (2 or 3 phase AC power and 2 signal) and the bottom half Chademo-like DC. Maybe its a sensible bringing together of both. I'm confused whey they call it the J1772 Combo' as J1772 appears to have been left out altogether. As someone else said, I don't much care what standard is adopted - let's just get on with it! MW

  24. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    And another reason to have lockable cables

    The cables are probably going to be worth *well over* (!) $100 per set. They'll disappear faster than ice in August if left unattended.

    Off to the Patent Office I go.

  25. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I was hoping

    For a unified CABIN standard dammit.

    Back to the matter at hand. From the wikipedia article:

    =====

    Connector

    The connector is designed for single phase electrical systems with 120 V or 240 V such as those used in North America and Japan.

    The round 43 mm diameter connector has five pins, with 3 different pin sizes

    AC Line 1 and AC Line 2 - have same size power pins

    Ground Pin

    Proximity Detection and Control Pilot - have same size pin

    Proximity Detection - Prevents movement of the car while connected to the charger.

    Control Pilot - Communication line used to coordinate charging level between the car and the charger as well as other information.

    The connector uses a 1 kHz square wave at +/- 12 volts generated by the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), i.e. the charging station, on the pilot pin to detect the presence of the vehicle, communicate the maximum allowable charging current, and control charging.[13] The connector is designed to withstand up to 10,000 connection/disconnection cycles and exposure to all kinds of elements. Approximating one connection/disconnection cycle daily, the average connector's lifespan should be just over 27 years.

    =====

    I'm amazed they think that one connect/disconnect cycle per day is enough to design for. Somehow I predict the average connector lifespan to be about 6 years in the real world on cars and something less than 18 months on public charge posts.

    As for the "proximity sensor" - unless this works until the connector bodies are well clear of each other there are going to be driveaway incidents - and if it does work like that it's going to be fun to make some "dummy plugs" and stall cars simply by slapping 'em on the bodywork near the chargepoint.

    Discussions about 120/240V are largely irrelevant unless the design allows for less than 2kV live/earth isolation. (Lightning strikes are a bitch). It's not as if universal switchmode supplies are a new invention - and for real charging oopmh you'll need 400/440V 3 phase - which is more or less the same in all countries apart from frequency. It'd be incredibly shortsighted not to design for that too.

    High voltage/current DC on a consumer-demountable conector = massive fail. DC arcs aren't self-extinguishing.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: I was hoping

      While DC arcs aren't self-extinguishing, they will extinguish when the power is cut off. ;) I'm guessing an interlock will cut off the high voltage power the instant the handshake pin disconnects -- and if they follow good connector design guidelines, the DC pins will be longer and make first/break last. As a backup I would expect either a high-voltage DC breaker or a fast-acting silver-sand fuse.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I was hoping

      "I'm amazed they think that one connect/disconnect cycle per day is enough to design for. Somehow I predict the average connector lifespan to be about 6 years in the real world on cars and something less than 18 months on public charge posts."

      Remember, the intention is that the vehicle only gets plugged in at home when it's done for the day and then unplugged the following morning, so yeah once a day.

      As for public connectors, it would simply need to be built to higher spec to withstand more abuse, probably with a quick-disconnect design to minimize damage in the event of a drive off (which one of the sense pins is supposed to prevent anyway). Petrol hoses get their knocks as well and have to be maintained or replaced every so often as well, so this isn't anything new.

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