June 24, 2010 / 4:10 PM / in 8 years

Europe moves closer to electric car infrastructure

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Europe’s carmakers moved a step closer creating an infrastructure for electric cars after agreeing on plug and socket standards for slow or overnight charging of the battery-driven vehicles due to hit roads from next year.

The European auto industry association ACEA said on Thursday its recommendation will enable the EU to progress rapidly in defining common charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Tesla roadster.

“We want to avoid a situation where customers have to carry a multitude of charging cables to use their vehicles in different cities, regions and countries, just as we see today with items like mobile phones,” said ACEA Secretary-General Ivan Hodac in a statement.

The industry body’s proposal foresees a transition phase for the next few years, with a uniform interface first taking effect by 2017 for slow charges off Europe’s 220 volt grids.

No agreement has been reached yet on how to quickly recharge depleted EV batteries, a more controversial issue since it will require far more investment in infrastructure and may not even be used by anyone but commercial owners of EV fleets.

Typically private owners are expected to charge their EVs overnight while a fast charge could take as little as an hour.

Alongside developing the safest, most powerful lithium-ion auto battery, agreeing on a norms for EVs is considered to be a competitive advantage in what many auto executives believe is the dawn of a new era for the industry.

ACEA argued that the European specifications could form the basis for a global standard, since Japanese and South Korean carmakers were closely involved in developing the joint industry recommendations for the European market.

Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by David Holmes

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