168367 Volvo Cars vision of an electric future

Volvo Supports Global Standards for Electric Vehicle Charging

In October, we covered Volvo’s plans to produce more electric vehicles. As alternative means of powering automobiles become a reality, Volvo is backing a global infrastructure focused on electronic vehicle charging. Dr. Peter Mertens, Volvo’s Senior Vice President for Research & Development, is one of Volvo’s central figures pushing for support from the automotive industry.

“We see that a shift towards fully electric cars is already underway, as battery technology improves, costs fall, and charging infrastructure is put in place,” he said.

Some consumers may well enjoy the benefits of an electric vehicle but are concerned as to where and how they will keep it charged. Currently, Volvo has plug-in hybrid cars and will offer a plug-in hybrid variant on every new model as their entire product portfolio changes in the coming years. In addition, a fully electric vehicle, based on the modular SPA vehicle architecture, is due by 2019.

A New Standard

With so much riding on their electrified vehicle plan, Volvo now stands with the Charging Interface Initiative, a consortium of stakeholders working to establish the Combined Charging System. The Charging Interface Initiative, based in Berlin, is developing the Combined Charging System as the world standard for charging battery-powered vehicles. They are drawing up requirements for such standards, outlining certification for use by automakers, and even accepting members.

According to Volvo, this is necessary for electric vehicles to be successful.

“While we are ready from a technology perspective, the charging infrastructure is not quite there yet. To really make range anxiety a thing of the past, a globally standardized charging system is sorely needed,” Dr. Mertens said.

Technology & Support

The Combined Charging System offers regular and fast charging capabilities so electric cars can be both possible and practical. The technology combines single-phase with rapid three-phase charging, using alternating current at a maximum of 43 kilowatts, as well as direct-current charging at a maximum of 200 kilowatts, with a future possibility of up to 350 kilowatts. It also manages communication between the electric vehicle and the infrastructure.

The Combined Charging System was developed by multiple European automakers like Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen. In 2014, the Combined Charging System was denoted as the European standard. Subsequently, all new electric vehicles and infrastructure destined for the European market will include a Type 2 inlet and connector by 2017.

In addition to Volvo, the Charging Interface Initiative and their push for a universal charging infrastructure is endorsed by the European Directive, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, and the Society of Automotive Engineers.



Volvo has a rich legacy of research, particularly in the area of electric vehicles. Volvo can trace their development of electrified cars some forty years back, but without a universal plan as presented by the Charging Interface Initiative, such history might be forever confined to the drawing board.

“We are very happy to support and be involved in the setting of standards for electric vehicle charging systems. The lack of such a standard is one of the main obstacles for growing electric vehicles and their share of the market,” Dr. Mertens said.

What do you think of electric vehicles and an infrastructure to support them? 

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.

  1. Very interesting article!

    The CCS Direct Charge Fast Charge (DCFC) “global standard” is unfortunately two related but non-interoperable standards, one based on the J1772 Alternating Current (AC) level 1 and 2 slow charge connector that is ubiquitous in North America and Japan, the other on the Meineke AC level 2 slow / medium charge connector that has been mandated in Europe.

    This isn’t much of a problem, since vehicles don’t drive from Japan to Europe to North America very often (ahem), but it’s worth noting.

    While CCS using IEC Type 1 isn’t widely deployed in North America or Japan yet, the J1772 AC connector on which it is based is VERY common. Regrettably, this means that unifying the world on IEC Type 2, which provides a superset of IEC Type 1 functionality, isn’t economically practical even though it’s technically advisable.

    So we’ll live with 2 networks in the USA – dual Type 1 CCS / CHAdeMO installations for most cars in the 50 to 100 kW range, and the Tesla Supercharger Network for Tesla vehicles in the 120 to 135 kW range. This is certainly no worse than the gasoline / diesel / E85 petroleum divide, and so if we never settle on a single standard, it shouldn’t impact EV adoption in the least.

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