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IEC publishes two EV charging standards; global consensus on plugs and sockets

The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has published two new International EV charging standards: IEC 62196-1 and IEC 62196-2. The two IEC International EV Standards reflect a global consensus on the plugs and sockets that are needed to charge EVs.

The newly published International EV charging Standards IEC 62196-1 and IEC 62196-2 standardize the plugs and sockets which can be used in different electricity infrastructures. They pull together the volume of research and development surrounding EV charging mechanisms from around the world, while addressing the diverse electricity infrastructure and regulations in different countries.

With the new standards it may be possible to avoid the very real risk that incompatible solutions would be developed by separate organizations in different regions, something that would be against the best interests of the worldwide vehicle manufacturing industry. Different national approaches would hamper the mass marketability of EVs, requiring customizations that would lead to higher prices and slower market access.

At the EV strategic Round Table organized by the IEC and e8 in Washington DC in January 2011, and more recently at the International Conference on Electromobility Standardization at the Frankfurt Motor Show, global car manufacturers, utilities and suppliers expressed an urgent need for International EV charging Standards, IEC said.

The IEC has clearly heard this call from industry and doubled its efforts to reach consensus on the most appropriate EV charging systems. The two newly published IEC International EV charging Standards represent the first step towards satisfying this urgent market need and provide the basis for stakeholders to build the EV charging infrastructure.

—Ronnie Amit, CEO and General Secretary of the IEC

The two new IEC International EV Standards define a limited set of options which each country and manufacturer can choose from. This will ensure that EVs and the components needed to charge them can be used in as many countries as possible, bringing down costs for manufacturers and potentially increasing EV attractiveness to consumers.

Formulating common standards is not easy under the best of circumstances and the many historic differences in electricity infrastructure further complicate this task, the IEC noted. Rather than imposing completely new approaches, the new standards build on three sets of plugs and sockets which are already widely accepted.

IEC 62196-1 contains the general requirements for the charging system, while IEC 62196-2 standardizes three types of grid (mains) connecting systems, known as Types 1, 2 and 3:

  • Type 1: single-phase vehicle coupler (vehicle connector and inlet), for example Yazaki or SAE J1772 (Japan, North America)

  • Type 2: single- and three-phase vehicle coupler and mains plug and socket-outlet without shutters, for example VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2

  • Type 3: single- and three-phase vehicle coupler and mains plug and socket-outlet with shutters, for example SCAME plug developed by the EV Plug Alliance.

Which of these is appropriate depends largely on the electrical infrastructure and regulatory conditions in each country.

The above standards build on IEC 61851-1, which defines the four modes of charging an EV from a power source:

  • Mode 1 (AC): slow charging from a standard household-type socket-outlet

  • Mode 2 (AC): slow charging from a standard household-type socket-outlet with an in-cable protection device

  • Mode 3 (AC): slow or fast charging using a specific EV socket-outlet and plug with control and protection function permanently installed

  • Mode 4 (DC): fast charging using an external charger

Modes 1 to 3 are estimated to allow an EV to be fully charged in between three and ten hours through direct connection to a mains supply. Mode 4 could fully charge an EV in under ten minutes, but as it uses off-grid batteries it is the most expensive to implement.

IEC 62196-1 applies to all four of these modes while IEC 62196-2 applies only to mains charging (Modes 1 to 3). A third standard, IEC 62196-3, is being developed to standardize DC charging (Mode 4).

In addition, IEC 61851-1 also defines three cable and plug setups which can be used to charge EVs:

  • Case A, where the cable is permanently attached to the EV

  • Case B, where the cable is not permanently attached to anything

  • Case C where the cable is permanently attached to the charging station

Taken together, these Types, Modes and Cases allow manufacturers to work to common standards within which they can meet the regulatory requirements across differing markets.

For example, Italy and the United States have limited Mode 1 charging on safety grounds, while Mode 3 is receiving a lot of interest in the United States and Europe for public charging points and Mode 4 is favored in Japan.

Furthermore, technical constraints mean that all Mode 4 cables need to be permanently attached to the charging station (Case C) and United States regulations demand that Mode 3 charging stations also have Case C cables.


  • IEC 62196-1 Plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors and vehicle inlets - Conductive charging of electric vehicles - Part 1: General requirements

  • IEC 62196-2 Plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors and vehicle inlets - Conductive charging of electric vehicles - Part 2: Dimensional compatibility and interchangeability requirements for a.c. pin and contact-tube accessories

  • IEC 61851-1 Electric vehicle conductive charging system - Part 1: General requirements



This is a good very step towards worldwide common charging systems. The next step will be fast charger-connector standards for 100+ Kwh future battery packs and standards for on-the move charging systems.


I suppose the EV industry learned from computer makers that requiring a 110/220 V switch to be set correctly was asking for trouble. This universal plug scheme (presumably with omnivorous vehicles) is bound to accelerate progress.


Its amazing how we ever figured out how to power PCs across many countries.


Yes, it is amazing how other (non-car) technologies are progressing.

Japan has recently built new ultra bright (19,400 lm) white LED lights with efficiency as high as 117.3 lm/w. Those lights are very small (38 mm x 38 mm x 5.5 mm) and run very cool at (+25 C) and can be dimmed all the way down to 590 lm and can last 50,000 hours. Smaller version will eventually be used on e-cars and e-trucks as ultra light, long lasting, more efficient head lights. A far cry from current 15 to 20 lm/w head lights. Meanwhile, 19,400 lm is more than enough for playgrounds, parking, street and highway lights.

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