The answer is twofold. Firstly, it depends on the continent. In the United States, for example, there are two electric car charger standards for electric and plug-in hybrid cars: Type 1 (AC) and CCS1 (Combined Charging Standard) or CHAdeMO (DC). Europe also has its own two electric car charger types: Type 2 connector (AC) and CCS2 or CHAdeMO (DC).
An easy way to find out which electric car chargers are suitable for your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle is to check the handbook. In the UK, for example, there are multiple electric car charging networks, and each one can function a little differently.
There are three parts to an electric car charger: the electric car connector (or “plug”) that goes directly into the car via an inlet port, the cable, and a second plug at the other end of this cable that attaches to the power source — if the cable isn’t directly attached to the terminal.
Choosing your electric car connector depends on the charger type and the car’s own inlet port. There are four types of electric car connector, two for alternating current (AC) and two for direct current (DC).
The “type 2” electric car connector can be used at all of the most common charging infrastructures, and can receive up to 22kW. The “type 4” electric car connector is used for fast charging using direct, not alternating, current, and can receive up to 50kW. To adapt to this, the Combined Charging System (CCS) has been developed, combining the type 2 electric car connector with contacts for direct current charging.
Fast and slow terminals usually have “Type 1” or “Type 2” plugs, while rapid chargers use CHAdeMO, CCS and “Type 2” plugs. As a general rule, most European models have “Type 2” inlets and the CCS standard, while Asian electric vehicles have a “Type 1” and CHAdeMO combination.
People have diverse lifestyles, so there isn’t one charging solution to suit everyone. This is why governments and operators are rolling out a wide array of electric car charging points (and also for plug-in hybrid cars). There are now, for example, more than 200,000 public charging stations in Europe.
There are 4 modes, or ways, of charging your electric vehicle. Mode 1 refers to the use of a traditional power socket to charge your electric vehicle. But, because there is no dedicated circuit, charging the car is very slow. Mode 2 is the use of an electronic control unit, like the Renault Flexi Charger, to regulate the power. Mode 3 is when you have a dedicated control unit, a Wallbox for example, integrated into the electric supply. This offer faster and safer charging than Mode 1. Mode 4 refers to the use of the fast-charging infrastructure often available on highway rest stops, parking lots, in city centers etc.
By far the most popular way of charging an electric vehicle is at home. Why? Because not only is it more convenient, but you can get a full long charge overnight, and can even make the most of advantageous electricity rates: electricity suppliers are increasingly rolling out special tariffs for electric vehicle owners with cheaper night-time rates. And, while you can charge your car using a standard domestic socket, it’s a safer, (much) faster and more economical decision to install an electric car charger at home, such as a Wallbox.
Governments offer grants for electric car chargers. In the UK for example, the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) currently provides grants to help with the purchase and installation of chargers both at-home and at places of work.
Or in the US, where the country, state and even utility companies provide grants to municipalities and transit authorities for the installation and update of electric charging infrastructure. Even in less heavily-populated countries, grants are available: like in New Zealand, where 21 company projects have recently been awarded a combined 3.8 million NZD from the nation’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.
Don’t forget, driving an electric car also means you can enjoy privileges that vehicles with an internal combustion engine can’t. Certain towns and cities offer electric cars dedicated parking zones, access to low emissions zones, exemption from traffic restrictions, public charging stations for electric vehicles offering dedicated parking spaces, and more.
Whether at home, work or on the road, the electric car charging infrastructure — and charging stations for electric vehicles in particular — is improving at a fast rate around the world. Plus, technology is even being developed on electric cars to enable the vehicle to self-charge itself while driving, much like their hybrid counterparts!
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