What's The Charge
Posted on 19 March 2019 - by EVision - The Latest EV News
Charging electric cars often throws up the most questions from the uninitiated and the curious, which is understandable. Hopefully I will be able to throw a bit of light on what to do when it comes to charging your EVision Electric Car the next time you take out a Tesla rental or rent a BMW i3 from us.
What does Tethered and Un-Tethered Mean?
OK, so let me get this one out of the way early on. Some charge points you come across will be ‘tethered’ and some will be ‘un-tethered’. A tethered charge point is one where the cable is attached to the charge point and you just need to plug the other end directly to your car. ALL Tesla Superchargers are tethered connections. If you are at an un-tethered charging unit you will need to have a cable in your car to attach to the unit before plugging the other end into your car.
Aren't all Chargers the Same?
Well, no. For example, let’s compare electric cars to mobile phones. If you try charging an iPhone with an Android cable, or try charging your Samsung phone with an iPhone cable, you will quickly run into trouble. The same can be said of electric cars. There are primarily 4 different charge connector types to be aware of. These are Type 1, Type 2, CCS and CHAdeMO connections.
Type 1 Chargers
Type 1 chargers are the primary charge point connector for North American and Japanese cars. So if you had a Chevy Volt (unlikely in the UK) or a Nissan Leaf (quite likely in the UK) then this is the type of connector that is compatible with your car. A Type 1 charge point will be an AC (alternating current) unit and will be slower than a DC (direct current unit). Type 1 charge points are also quite rare in the UK; however, you can charge your car from a Type 2 charge point if you have an adapter cable.
Type 2 Chargers
This is the one you will see most often, whether in the UK or in Europe. The Type 2 connector is the one that has been standardised by the EU and is the one that all European car manufacturers use (they are also the standard for a majority of the rest of the world too). Even Tesla cars that are sold in Europe are fitted with a Type 2 charging port. As with the Type 1 connector, the Type 2 provides an AC current and will generally be slower than DC units (although Tesla Superchargers will provide a huge amount of power through their Type 2 connections). Every service station in the UK and every major charge point provider in the UK will predominantly offer Type 2 charging.<meta charset="utf-8" />
These charger connections have been around for a while but are now starting to become more and more common. A CCS charge point provides a fast DC current charge. Several of the cars on the EVision fleet, including the Jaguar I-Pace and the BMW i3, have CCS charging capabilities. There is no extra charge port on the car, you simply open up the 2 pin socket below the Type 2 socket and the CCS charging connector slots right in.
CCS will most likely be the standard going forward in the UK (with the Type 2 still available as an option). The CCS connection has allowed ultra-fast charging to be a possibility, with some stations able to provide 500KWh of charge (for the moment). The new Tesla Model 3 cars that are being shipped to Europe have the CCS connection capabilities. It has also been rumoured that Tesla are looking to retrofit their Model S and X cars to be CCS compliant. Tesla has already started upgrading their Supercharging stations to include a CCS cable as well as the traditional Type 2 connector (more on the Tesla Superchargers later).
The CHAdeMO charging connectors are, like the Type 1 connectors, for Japanese and North American cars. These connections are for the DC fast charging and are used on cars such as the Nissan Leaf. One thing you will notice about the CHAdeMO is that it is absolutely MASSIVE! With the previously mentioned CCS connectors, the innovator simply added another couple of pins for the DC charging. The CCS connector isn’t much bigger than the Type 2 connector. The CHAdeMO inventor, however, appears to have looked at the Type 1 connector and decided to go for a supersized option, ending up with something that was much more OTT than originally planned.
Although the CHAdeMO charging ports are more common than Type 1, they are still nowhere near as common in the UK as the EU standardised Type 2 or CCS. Also, EVision Electric Car Hire does not carry any makes of car that require a CHAdeMO connection. Although, EVision does have a CHAdeMO adapter that will fit onto a Type 2 connector where a CHAdeMO charger is the only one available where you are (which has happened to your blog writer in the past).
I’ve Heard That Tesla Have Made an Announcement about a 3rd Generation of Superchargers. What’s That All About?
Yes, this is true. Tesla made a huge announcement regarding their Supercharger stations (which are still currently in the process of being upgraded in the UK for CCS charging). The new Superchargers will be capable of charging up to 1000KWh (just waiting for everyone to read that last sentence several times before I continue). This is not a typo. There really will be a charger that is this powerful. Any car that is capable of receiving the full power will see 75 miles added to the battery in less than 5 minutes. This means that a Tesla Model S P100D could charge to 80% in around 13/14 minutes. Tesla has, once again, thrown down the gauntlet and is waiting for everyone else to play catch-up.
Can All Cars be Charged up at this Speed?
No. To be able to use the ultra-fast charging you would need a car that is capable of handling that kind of charge. When you charge a car the battery heats up. In order for the battery not to overheat (which you really don’t want to happen), the car will only accept the amount of charge that the vehicle can handle. The Jaguar I-Pace is capable of handling very high charging speeds. The Renault ZOE, however, would not. Battery cooling technology is essential to the development of battery charging technology. The better the cooling system, the better the battery can handle fast charging. This is, in itself, quite an interesting technology to see develop (there are so many different advances happening all the time, it’s quite dizzying). With air cooling technology seeming to have reached its pinnacle, liquid cooling seems to be taking battery cooling technology to the next level. Will we get to a point where we can fully charge a car quicker than you can fill up a petrol tank, go into the petrol station shop, queue up and pay for your fuel (I would argue that we are almost there already). Well, why not. Although I am no scientist, the advances are happening at such a great speed and there doesn’t seem to be any permanent barriers in sight.
At Least the Prices are Consistent… Right?
Again, this is a no. Just as prices for conventional fuel vary from station to station, so too does the price of charging. However, there is some good news here (a lot of good news actually). Charging electric cars is cheap, ridiculously cheap. There are many charge points where charging is not just cheap it is free as well. Even the charging stations that require payment will still be a fraction of the cost of buying petrol or diesel. One of our drivers delivered a BMW i3 from Kent to Edinburgh towards the end of 2018, costing a grand total of £13 in charging costs. Good luck getting a petrol or diesel car from Kent to Edinburgh for that amount. I severely doubt you would even venture further than the north circular area of the M25 on £13 worth of diesel or petrol.
Perhaps where EV charging has its biggest issue is actually the payment method itself. There has been a great cry for companies to try and standardise the payment methods. For example, some chargers you can just plug in, leave the car, unplug the car upon your return and go (Tesla are the prime example here). Some charge points will accept touch pay for their charge points (again, no issues here insofar as payment methods go), and then we come to the dreaded app and RFID card chargers. An RFID card is similar to a credit card with smart technology built in. What you would do is set up an account for the provider, add money to the account and then swipe your card to pay for your charge.
The flaw with RFID cards, if you haven’t spotted it already, is that there are many different charge point providers. It is not practical to use them. By analogy, it would be like Shell petrol stations insisting on payment by a Shell card, which cannot be used anywhere else. And then BP, Total, Texaco etc etc requiring you to only use their cards at their stations.
The apps are slightly less restrictive. You would download an app for the charge point you want to use, enter payment information, input the charge point number and proceed with charging. Unfortunately, this can lead to you having several different apps on your phone. There is also often a connection fee to pay as well as charge fee when using the apps (still only about £1 for connection).
The method of charging (in the sense of money charging, not electric charging) can be very different too. Some charge by time, some will charge by power usage, some have fixed rates. Some prices are fixed by the owners of the premises where the charge point is located, rather than the company who provides the charge point. All in all, there is a lot of information to take in.
Very Confusing. Is This Likely to Change?
We really hope so. In fact, a Bill was presented to Parliament towards the end of 2018 which aims to do just that. Conservative MP, Bill Wiggin, presented the Electric Vehicles (Standardised Recharging) Bill 2017-19 which has so far passed the First Reading stage in the House of Commons with the Second Reading scheduled for March 2019. Unlike a lot of subjects that are discussed in Parliament (don’t mention the ‘B’ word) there does seem to be a lot of cross-party support for the furtherance of the electric vehicle industry. This Bill, should it go through both Houses and receive Royal Assent, will standardise the way in which we pay for charging, removing the need to download and use many different phone applications. A desired aim from this Bill would be to have contactless payment as standard on all charge points, with the charge points being available to all users. When this happens we will, inevitably, be another step closer to a smooth transition for all to an EV world.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Keep an eye on the EVision social media channels, particularly YouTube. We will be putting together information videos regarding subjects such as using public charge points very soon.