The new European plug.

Welcome folks, to the new charging standard for EVs and PHEVs in the European Union. It’s based on a design by Mennekes, and will support a range of charging options for EVs at anything from a standard 13A, 240V supply through to a mighty 400V three-phase, 63A supply.

Best of all, it seems like the Mennekes system is designed with interoperability in mind and may even offer some retro-fitting for suitable vehicles.

With Elektromotive set to roll out a series of upgrades to it’s charging points in the UK to allow for a ‘pay as you go’ charging system (as well as a new version of their Elecktrobay charging station supporting the new standard) there really isn’t a better time to look into going electric.

The uber veritile Plug for plugging in in Europe!
The uber veritile Plug for plugging in in Europe!

More details of the new charge standard after the jump

The team who have developed the new charge plug are being wonderfully open about the charging tech involved. This informative brochure developed to introduce the new standard coins a rather cute term for charging an EV from a non-intelligent, household supply – cutely termed as the “Visiting Grandma” solution. The concept behind this of course, is that any EV owner will have their own high current, 32A, 230V AC charge point in their home and will make use of any similar charge points while out and about (at work, at the shops etc.). But when visiting family or someone who doesn’t have a Mennekes intelligent charge point (read Elecktrobay charge point with Mennekes socket) a simple ‘dumb’ adaptor cable will allow the EV or PHEV owner to charge at a frustratingly slow 13A, 230 V from any standard domestic socket. Thus, Grandma will not have to have a costly EV charge station when you go to visit. It’s nice to know that these guys have thought about Grandma and the EV owner who likes to travel. It will certainly help ease this standard into the mainstream too – as anyone with a new charge adaptor will be able to use a “Visiting Grandma” system on pre-existing 13A and 16 A charge points. In other words, this system is backwards-compatible.

The new charge standard supports a two-way communication between the charge station and the car, allowing the car to request a specific power level to ensure that it’s charge electronics are not fried if there are restrictions on how fast a specific battery chemistry can be charged, for example.

But for those cars with suitable batteries and chargers, the new standard will allow for charging at a blisteringly fast 25.6 kW. That would enable a Tesla to charge to 80% in about 45 minutes. Neat. A smaller EV battery pack, like that used in a Prius PHEV, would charge fully in under 30 minutes at that rate. You get the point.

If this standard is universally adopted, and three-phase outlets become the norm at shopping malls (or anywhere where three phase power is easily tapped) the EV and PHEV revolution will be given yet another push towards the day when we fill up with electrons and not gasoline.