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Combined Charging System

09.12.2014

When the “Charging Interface Initiative” was launched by the five major automobile manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen in 2009, their mission was clear: to find a universal charging system for electric vehicles that can be used worldwide.

Carmeq: expert and mediator 

In order to coordinate their concepts, ideas and interests regarding a joint system, the big five turned to Carmeq, where they set up the Charging Interface Office. Its chief role is to evaluate and agree their concepts in close collaboration with the car manufacturers’ experts and ultimately boil them down to a common denominator. 

The team at Carmeq supervised the development step by step, which involved far more than merely a uniform charging socket or the plug design. After all, extensive safety measures for all charging types, a common charging topology and, of course, uniform software for the communication between the car and the power grid were additional challenges, not to mention the work on the committees on the path towards standardisation, represented here in this country by the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN), for instance. 

“We are valued by all manufacturers as a neutral partner. Despite the proximity to Volkswagen, this independence in the collaboration is very important to us,” says Cornel Pampu, Head of the Charging Interface Office, explaining the setup. Carmeq’s team has frequently stood out with its technical expertise and supported the experts, which convinced the major American OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Chrysler, Ford and GM to join the initiative. 

Compact, safe and fit for the future 

In January 2011, the concept was submitted for international standardisation. The Combined Charging System requires one single charger socket on the vehicle, which can be used for all available terminals and four charging modes: Single-phase charging with an alternating current, rapid alternating current charging with a three-phase AC connection or at public stations, direct current charging on the house mains and ultra-rapid direct current charging at electric charging stations. A locking mechanism through the vehicle prevents the plug from being pulled out accidentally while charging. Electrical signals also control the charging process. Moreover, fully automated digital communication between the vehicle and the charging station is provided, which enables internet applications to be incorporated and complex charging procedures controlled, such as when compensating for power peaks (“smart grid”). In 2012 the initiative won the eCarTec Innovation Award from the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology for this novel approach and practical implementation. 

New charging station sets example 

In his own way, Holger Matz, who is responsible for the technical side of things at Carmeq as business team manager for Electric Vehicle Energy Systems, ensured that the topic of e-mobility is in the public eye by generating publicity. With his fourteen-strong team, he erected one of the first charging stations with the new combined system in Germany – right on the doorstep of Carmeq’s Berlin headquarters, where, depending on the charging capacity, Carmeq employees and their customers and guests can now charge their electric vehicles in less than half an hour. 

Additional tasks defined by the initiative include generating publicity, broadcasting the concept of e-mobility and capturing people’s imagination. The office also supports its partners in the process. Besides high-profile events, this also includes trade fair appearances and other marketing measures. Since the rollout in 2012, real lobbying work has also been on the agenda. “We spoke to a government-related organisation in Norway that is responsible for tenders in the e-mobility sector, for instance,” explains Matz. “Really, they had settled on the Japanese charging system but we managed to win them over with the Combined Charging System. This now guarantees us access to the Norwegian market.

” By the time the members of the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA) only offer e-vehicles with combined charging systems in Europe from 2018 as planned, the course will have been set. Thanks to the support of many dedicated Carmeq employees, however, the combined charging system is already regarded as pioneering on the international stage. 

You would like to charge your electric vehicle with us? More information on “Charging at Carmeq” is provided here (German only).

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