Rather like mobile phone technology, there are different types of charging plugs for different electric vehicles in the UK. The different styles and sizes of plugs can be confusing especially when trying to standardise business vehicles or charging points at your business premises.
Charging plug features
There are multiple different plug standards and each has its own benefits – some are optimised to connect your EV to a home electrical system (typically 240v AC) which is easy to setup but slower to charge; some are designed for high-capacity and fast-charging DC points, normally at a business premises or garage.
When you’re looking at selecting your vehicles, have a look at the charging plug standard it uses and consider these questions:
- How quickly do you need to charge the vehicle/s?
- What rate of charge can the vehicle accept?
- What is the current fitting on the EV?
- Where is the vehicle going to be charged on a regular basis, will this be a domestic wall box, public charging facilities or an AC rapid charging point on business premises?
Charging plug standards
There are four main standards in use – each has its own benefits and you’ll find different versions on vehicles according to the age and country of production. Here’s a quick review of the charging plug standards.
Type 1 Electric plug standard
The Type 1 five-pin connector has been largely overtaken in the UK and Europe by the Type 2 but can still be found on some older EVs like the first versions of the Nissan Leaf, the Kia Soul and the hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander. The Type 1 is designed for Alternating Current or AC, a mix of slow and fast charging and has a capacity of between three and seven kW.
Type 2 Electric plug standard
The Type 2 plug is a seven-pin plug and fitted by most car manufacturers to their EV models in line with EU legislation. Most tethered – a tethered cable is a charging cable attached permanently to the charger – public charging points will have a Type 2 plug. Like Type 1, this system is intended to work with slow and fast charging, but it can handle a much greater kW delivery. The Type 2 connector can be locked to the vehicle which is a benefit that the Type 1 doesn’t offer – this means that no-one can disconnect the vehicle whilst it is charging and the driver is not present.
Combination plugs for a Combined Charging System (CCS)
Most new electric vehicles are fitted with the Combined Combination System (CCS) which allows charging at a rapid public DC socket and a home AC unit.
Japan’s car manufacturers are working on an alternative to the CCS called CHAdeMO which is a DC rapid charging system with capacity of up to 400kW and its developers are looking to at least double this charge capacity in the near future. Unlike its main rival the CCS standard, CHAdeMO requires two separate plugs for rapid and AC charging but this system also has the added ability to convey electrical current in two directions which theoretically allows for “Vehicle to Grid” transfer where unused electricity stored in a fully-charged EV could potentially be transferred to power a building or sold back to the National Grid.
If you’re considering standardising your electric vehicles for your business and fitting a charging point at your premises, there are multiple plug standards to contend with. Try and go for the widely-used CCS standard, but first look at the rate of charge (in KW) needed to charge your vehicles – this is particularly important if you have a number of vehicles in your business and needs careful review of the frequency of your business travel, the distance of a typical journey and how quickly EVs need to be recharged and returned to the road to support the business.