It’s really nice that almost all non-Apple smartphones use the same charger, which is the MicroUSB standard. Electric cars may be going the same way. Global engineering group SAE International has published a new standard for plug-in electric cars. It goes by the catchy name of J1772 Revision B. Although the convenience of a standard plug is by itself a huge improvement, the standard also includes a specification for “quick charging.” Quick charges uses high voltage direct current to charge your car in as little as 30 minutes–but you won’t be able to do it at home. So the new standard–nicknamed “Combo”–uses paired couplers, which means your car can use both AC and DC charging with the same plug. 


The standard is a revision of the 2009 J1772, which only had an AC charging plug, which meant “volt stations,” or electric car charging stations, couldn’t offer the rapid recharge. The limitation of AC is that beyond a certain voltage, alternating current has heat issues.

GM and Ford are already on board, but Tesla’s continuing to use thier proprietary standard.  There’s been an existing Japanese standard, the CHAdeMO plug, which was installed on the Nissan Leaf. It looks like the Japanese automakers are going to stick with their standard, so we could have a VHS vs. Betamax fight  shaping up over the future of electric cars.

The competing Japanese standard

If you want to read the standard, or look at the SAE’s press release, it’s available here.

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