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Explained: What Kind Of Chargers Do Electric Vehicles Need?

With electric cars driving into the country, the need of the hour is an efficient charging network. However, unlike petrol or diesel pumps, which have standardized nozzles for all types of vehicles, electric vehicles have different types of chargers for various types of vehicles.

Just like how mobile phones earlier had different types of chargers for different brands of phones, the electric vehicle space is going through a similar learning curve. The Indian government has mandated a certain type of charger for low-power electric vehicles, while the new breed of powerful electric SUVs has a different requirement.

However, that isn’t likely to be an issue. For example, MG Motor India has a tie-up with Finnish clean-energy company Fortum to set up DC fast-charging stations across the country.

But, before we get to that, let’s cover some basics. Like what kind of chargers exist and what are they capable of? There are various kinds of chargers – regular AC chargers, fast-chargers, and rapid chargers.

Type 1 AC Charger

A basic Type 1 EV charger.

This is the simplest EV charger that some entry-level electric vehicles use. It can slow-charge a vehicle from an AC socket or home-charging system. It provides AC charging power levels up to 220 volts and a maximum of 16 amps of current. It can manage single-phase input power levels of up to 3 kW. With such kind of chargers, the vehicle has to convert AC power to DC, which makes it a slow process.

Type 2 Charger

The Type 2 charger works on AC and DC systems.

The Type 2 Charger is capable of faster charging and is compatible with both AC and DC charging systems. These types of chargers work with three-phase input power systems. It is fairly common in European charging stations. It can handle input power between 7.4 kW to 43 kW with a 400 volt AC supply. These types of chargers are also usually set-up in EV consumers' homes for faster charging times as it is also compatible with vehicles with CCS plugs.

CCS or Combined Charging System

The CCS system is emerging as an acceptable global standard.

A combined charging system plug or CCS type plug (often called a CCS Type 2) is becoming quite common with new-age electric vehicles. These charging systems can handle regular charging from home-charging stations and are also capable of providing DC fast-charging for cars from commercial charging stations.

The plug has two additional contact points for DC fast charging. Common DC fast-chargers provide input power of 50 kW, but this type of plug can handle charge power levels up to 350 kW as well. The MG ZS EV, for instance, supports the CCS system of charging for faster charge times on the go.

CHAdeMo Charger

CHAdeMo is a prominent standard used in Japanese EVs. 

This was one of the first types of fast-charging systems developed and is present in over 70 countries globally. It can handle DC fast-charging of up to 50 kW. However, the new-age vehicles are now switching to the CCS system as it offers more versatility. This was earlier offered on a lot of Asian electric vehicle brands as this charging format was developed in Japan.

GB/T Charger

The GB/T charger is popular with electric vehicles in China.

The Indian government had recommended the GB/T type charger for EVs under its Bharat DC 001 standard. These chargers, installed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a government body, are capable of DC fast-charging with an output of 10-15 kW for low-power EVs. However, this type of connector can handle capacities of up to 230 kW as well. China is also developing a 900 kW version for its EVs.

In general, the Indian government has mandated Bharat spec DC and AC standards for EV chargers.

Except for the basic three-pin Type 1 charger, all the other charging systems have additional pins that communicate with the vehicle. This way the on-board systems on the vehicle can determine the right amount of current needed to charge the vehicle. Some types also come with an electronic lock which prevents cable theft while the vehicle is charging, while others have a physical locking system.

Do you have to worry about charging systems when you buy an EV? Not really. Companies like MG India send technicians to your house to set up a home charging system for your EV. In addition, the onboard infotainment system will guide you to the nearest DC fast charger if need be. It’s only going to get easier from here on.

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