Do all EVs use the same charger?

Fast read

The most common charging plugs for AC charging in Australia are the Type 2 (Mennekes) and Type 1 (J1772) plugs, while the CHAdeMO and Combined Charging System (CSS) are the most common for DC charging.

Tesla vehicles have their own charging technology and can only be charged on dedicated Tesla rapid chargers. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the charging equipment and plugs required for different vehicles to ensure smooth and efficient charging.

Can your EV use any charger?

As we all become more and more face-to-face with electric cars and hybrids, how does one fuel this new technology? If you can charge your phone, you can set up an EV charger. The one thing to watch out for is that not all vehicles use the same charging plug. Imagine the irony: someone’s running low on charge, discovers a charging station, but ends up stuck because they lack the right plug and can’t locate an adaptor.

So right now, while not all charging plugs on EVs are precisely the same, the charging equipment for electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles is already pretty straightforward and, in many cases, becoming more and more uniform.

Charging from the PowerPoint – that’s straightforward

AC charging is the most common method to charge EVs and Hybrid Vehicles within Australian homes and private properties.

Usually, a plug-in hybrid or EV comes with external charging cables as a standard inclusion or as a purchasable option, which lets you charge the car from a home wall socket. Therefore this cable that will fit the vehicle will work with Australian PowerPoints, and no compatibility issues should be encountered.

As this charging method is relatively slow, car owners regularly install a dedicated car charger in their homes or use EV rapid chargers on the road.

Charging from a dedicated EV home charger  

The most common EV charger in Australia is called Type 2, or the Mennekes plug for AC charging via home chargers. This plug is the local industry standard for brands such as the MG ZS EV, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, and Audi e-Tron.

The Mennekes/Type 2 plug is also prevalent in the Hybrid Vehicle sector and works for cars such as the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and the BMW X5 xDrive40e.

The Mennekes plug has seven pins for two-phase charging. However, it has two additional pins to support three-phase, high-voltage charging.

In Japan and North America, the J1772 plug is the most common. It is also known as a Type 1 plug. However, on some cars in Australia, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle manufactured before 2019, or Japanese imported EVs, you may still see a J1772 AC plug.

The J 1772 plug has five pins. Two pins communicate between the EV and the charging device to work out the maximum current available and check how much more charge the battery needs. The other three pins are there to output the AC charge.

woman standing in front of an EV charger
Top-up charges with EVs can be as quick as it takes to drink a cup of tea!

DC charging plug – three options available

Some cars use the CHAdeMO charger for DC charging in Australia, which stands for “CHArge de MOve” (translation: charge for moving). The word stems from the Japanese saying: “o CHA deMO ikaga desuka “, which in English means: “How about a cup of tea?”. This is a play on how long it takes DC charging to charge a car.

Becoming the more popular DC charging in Australia is the Combined Charging System (CSS), which originates in Europe and is also the European standard. It is also the most popular DC charging for plug-in hybrids.

The CSS enables one to charge the EV/Hybrid no matter if one has Type 1 or Type 2 plugs. It is the commonly available charger for charging stations in shopping centres or on highways and has become the default connection for public charging stations.

It is expected future rollouts of EV charging stations will utilise this technology which allows one to use the J1772 and the Mennekes plugs.

Our ‘special car’

Last but not least – our “special car” is the Tesla range. These cars utilise their technology. Although the EV charger resembles a Type 2/Mennekes plug, the communication protocol restricts charging solely to Tesla cars on dedicated Tesla rapid chargers.

So if you drive a car from another brand, you can not use the Tesla charging network, as your vehicle will not know the Tesla communication protocols.

We still have various plugs because different manufacturers and countries have foreign alliances and interests. Still, we can expect that a cohesive standard solution will be available very soon.

Till then, Australia has used the Type 2/Mennekes for AC charging as the most common standard,  CHAdeMO for Japanese-manufactured vehicles, and the combined CCS plus for DC charging.

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