DETROIT -- Audi AG, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Porsche AG and Volkswagen AG have agreed to support an international standardized approach to charge electric vehicles in Europe and the United States.
The agreement will allow electric vehicles made by those manufacturers to share the same fast-charging stations.
The standardized system integrates all charging scenarios into one vehicle inlet-charging connector. It also uses identical ways for the vehicle to communicate with the charging station, a press statement from Ford said today.
The automakers' decision to endorse the combined charging system was based on studying existing charging strategies, the ergonomics of the connector and the preferences of U.S. and European customers.
Level 1, 2 success
The automakers cite the success of Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations as an example of how standardization should help boost the sale of electric vehicles and improve customer satisfaction. Level 2 stations allow 220-volt charging in the United States.
There have been previous attempts at standardization for EVs. For example, the industry in the United States has agreed upon a standard Level 1 charging plug, known as the J1772, in part due to efforts by SAE International.
Prior to standardization of that plug, an EV owner had no way of knowing if the charge port they were pulling up to was compatible with their vehicle.
But industry executives have criticized SAE and other engineering groups for the slow pace of getting automakers and governments in multiple countries to agree to standards, as each automaker has championed its own approach to developing electric-vehicle technologies.
The manufacturers say the development of a common charging approach is also good for the industry and charging-infrastructure providers. Standardization will reduce build complexity for manufacturers and accelerate the installation of common systems internationally.
Two transatlantic groups -- Transatlantic Business Dialogue and the Transatlantic Economic Council -- supported the agreement, Ford spokesman Dan Pierce said. Their efforts "in prioritizing this project and fast-tracking the interactions among automakers, associations and governments" were instrumental in reaching agreement on a universal charging system, he said.
Their role partially explains why the agreement focuses on Europe and the United States. No Asian automakers are part of the agreement.
Smart grid tie-in
The group says this harmonized approach provides a framework for future infrastructure planning.
For example, it provides a communication protocol to help in the integration of electric vehicles into the smart grid. A smart grid is an electrical grid that attempts to respond to the actions of all the electrical power users connected to it.
The seven automakers agreed to use a system known as HomePlug Green PHY as the standard communication protocol. That system, also known as HomePlug GP, was developed by the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, a group promoting and setting standards for powerline connectivity.