June 29, 2010 / 5:15 PM / 9 years ago

EU moves towards common electric car standards

BRUSSELS, June 29 (Reuters) - The European Union moved closer towards common standards for electric cars on Tuesday when its executive arm launched work on a single charging system for their batteries.

The European Commission and standarisation groups — the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute — signed a deal on defining how the plug and socket system should look and work.

“This signing is very important for the future of green cars. ... Our work in favour of new models is impossible without standardization and infrastructure,” Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani told a news conference.

Under the agreement, the groups will develop the charging standard for the 27-nation bloc by mid-2011 while ensuring it is safe, interoperable with all types of electric vehicles and energy-efficient.

The deal comes after European auto industry association ACEA said last week it had agreed plug and socket specifications for slow or overnight charging, paving the way for EU-mandated standards. [ID:nLDE65N1JE]

Common standards for electric cars are vital in boosting their sales, allowing the EU to meet its goal of lowering dependence on fossil fuels.

Global sales of plug-in cars, which are wholly battery powered and need to be charged from a power point, were forecast to be 23,000 this year, rising to 500,000 by 2015, British consultancy J.D. Power said in a report on June 18.

The report said sales of plug-in cars would be hampered by high vehicle costs and short driving ranges compared with hybrids, which run partially on petrol and partially by battery.

Some analysts say common EU infrastructure might not be ready for the planned mass release of some electric cars.

American electric car maker Tesla Motors (TSLA.O), which raised $226 million in its initial public offering on Monday, plans to release in 2012 a battery-powered electric sedan aimed at mass-market consumers. [ID:nN29132160]

Nissan Motor Co’s (7201.T).T> all-electric Leaf is due to go on sale in Europe early next year, and Renault (RENA.PA)’s electric Kangoo and Fluence will arrive a few months later.

In the United States, $15 million in federal stimulus funds have gone toward installing 4,600 charging stations across the country. (Reporting by Andrea Swalec; Editing by Marcin Grajewski and David Holmes)

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