Transport Evolved’s Guide to Rapid Charging: Europe

We’ve talked a few times about the complications of rapid charging in the UK and Europe. Multiple rapid charging standards have been rolled out and adopted, some which use the same or slightly different plugs. This has led to all sorts of confusion. So here is the Transport Evolved guide to rapid charging in Europe (UK and mainland Europe).

We’ll be bringing you more parts in this series including Rapid Charging: US and Fast Charging: Europe and US.

Rapid, Fast or Slow Charging

Charging rates and speeds for cars can be classified as either slow, fast or rapid. They break down as follows:

  • Slow: Charging from a normal domestic socket, or rates equal to this from other sources.
  • Fast: Charging at a rate faster than that of a domestic socket and less than 40kW.
  • Rapid: Charging at a rate of or faster than 40kW.

CHAdeMO

This is the end of a CHAdeMO rapid charger.

This is the end of a CHAdeMO rapid charger.

The Japanese CHAdeMO is, as of writing, probably the most common type of rapid charging connector in Europe. Operating at 50kW this connector can charge a compatible car from 0 – 80% in around 20 minutes in ideal circumstances.

Cars with this connector: Nissan LEAF, e-NV200, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, Peugeot iOn, Citroën C-Zero, Berlingo.

Rapid AC (Type 2)

One socket for all types of charging. So long as it is alternating current.

One socket for all types of charging. So long as it is alternating current.

This rapid charger uses the three-phase ability of the European Type 2 connector to allow high-power alternating current to be pulled by a car. This is then converted to direct current by the car’s high-power on-board charger before going to the battery. Operating at 43kW this can charge a compatible car from 0-80% in around 20 minutes in ideal circumstances.

Cars with this connector: Renault ZOE.

Combined Charging Standard (CCS)

Direct current comes over the additional two pins.

Direct current comes over the additional two pins.

The agreed and ratified EU standard for rapid charging. CCS operates at 40kW and can charge compatible cars from 0-80% in around half an hour. Note how this connector looks like a standard Type 2 connector with two extra pins. It is these extra pins that supply the direct current to the battery.

Cars with this connector: VW e-Up!, e-Golf, BMW i3, i3 REx.

Note: The Rapid AC (Type 2) connector will attach to these cars. However the cars will not be able to rapid charge using it. They will be limited to the rate of their on-board chargers. In most cases this is 3.3kW or 7kW. To rapid charge a CCS connector needs to be sought out.

Tesla SuperCharger

tesla-type2

It looks identical to the Type 2 connector but there is some special Tesla tech in there.

To make use of the abundance of three-phase alternating current in Europe, Tesla changed the Model S’ connector and on-board charger. Tesla created their own version of the Type 2 connector that is backwardly compatible with the existing standard. This allows the Model S to charge using three-phase alternating current at the limit of the on-board charger (11kW or 22kW) and also rapid charge at 135kW using two specially adapted direct current pins.

Cars with this connector: Tesla Model S.

Note: The Rapid AC (Type 2) connector will attach to these cars. However the cars will not be able to rapid charge using it. They will be limited to the rate of their on-board chargers. In most cases this is 11kW or 22kW. To rapid charge a SuperCharger connector needs to be sought out.

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  • Surya

    I still don’t get the concept of the CCS plug. The top part is Type 2. If you want to use AC charging, you’ll plug in with a regular Type 2 plug.nIf you want to do the quick charge, you need the bottom 2 pins. OK, so the idea is that anyone plugging in with this combo plug will be using those bottom 2 pins for DC quick charging. So why is the top part even there on the connector then?

    • Mark Chatterley

      For the communication. The lower two pins just transfer the power. The top part is needed so the car can communicate with the charging station and vice versa.nnWhere it gets really silly is that the Type 2 connector can be used for DC charging as is. It’s in the spec. Which is how Tesla were able to adapt it (albeit going well over the spec’d rating by beefing it up).

      • Surya

        Thanks for the clarification. I did know about the DC pins in the Type 2 connector and the Tesla adaption of those, but not about the communication.nnStill, it’s a silly concept, the CCS plug