GM and SAE Team Up to Standardize Electric Vehicle Charging System
If you own a cell phone, or anything that charges from a wall out let for that matter, chances are you have already been through the headache of carrying a hand full of chargers that each work on a single device. Even products made by the same company rarely work on a different model and in some cases, a single year difference can bring an entirely new adapter. Looking at this, General Motors saw a problem coming down the road with our plug in electrics and always trying to find the right adapter for the right vehicle. From this, a new movement to standardize the connections for all new plug-in vehicles has started and, in my opinion, should be forced onto some other markets as well.
Establishing standards and making sure everyone abides by them is not easy task. To help with this, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has set up a task force, currently under the designation of SAE J1772, to design and test a single charging unit that will be used across every platform, regardless of year, make or model.
Of course, it takes more than just designing a plug and calling it good. The design has to be practical and cost efficient. Not to mention, it must be able to withstand the twisting and turning it will have to undoubtedly go through at the end of those stressful days at work. The task force is also working to engineer a plug that will break away cleanly and smoothly when someone tries to drive off while they are still plugged in, which is also an inevitability.
Although the idea seems almost common sense, many people are asking if and why we need to standardize something as simple as a wall plug. In a single word: acceptance. If people no longer have to worry about always needing the right plug, they are more likely to accept the transition into electric vehicles, and that is the overall goal.
Also, if the plugs themselves are standard, you won't necessarily have to order one from a dealership should anything happen to yours. Ideally, you could go to a local hardware store and purchase one, rather than have to go searching all over the place to find the connection that matches you needs.
The whole process of standardization will take quite some time but the final result could save thousands over the lifetime of your vehicle, not to mention countless headaches. SAE is planning on presenting a few concept drawings sometime in the near future.