Germany’s New Draft Legislation For Electric Car Charging: A Model for All to Follow?

Since the launch of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt back in 2011, we’ve seen a dizzying array of different standards emerge around the world defining which plugs, sockets and charging stations should be used to charge an electric car’s battery pack. As well as confuse buyers of plug-in cars, the differing standards are often regionally-based.

This means automakers often use the charging standard preferred in their home country, even if the market they’re selling the car to has a different charging standard.

The CCS connector is about to become mandatory in Germany for all new DC quick charging installations, along with a set of other new rules.

The CCS connector is about to become mandatory in Germany for all new DC quick charging installations, along with a set of other new rules.

The result? Not every car on the market today can use every single rapid charging station, making finding a public charging station for your particular make and model of car a bit of a headache, especially if you’re somewhere new.

But now a new draft legislation from Germany seeks to change that forever by mandating that all new quick charging stations built in Germany offer Germany’s preferred CCS quick charging standard in addition to any other quick charging standards being offered, as well as a fall-back type2 fast charging outlet in case of hardware failure.

And while the legislation could end up disadvantaging those automakers which use other rapid charging connectors, it could become a model that other countries around the world could use as the basis for a ‘charging for all’ methodology that the plug-in world so desperately needs.

The Volkswage e-Golf is one of the many German-made electric cars to use CCS.

The Volkswage e-Golf is one of the many German-made electric cars to use CCS.

CCS — or Combined Charging System to use its official name — is a relatively new DC quick charging standard backed by all the major German automakers. Unlike the complicated CHAdeMO DC quick charge standard from Japan — which uses a completely separate, multi-pin connector from the level 2 (type1) charging socket used for on-board slower-speed AC charging — the CCS quick charge standard is designed to piggyback onto the existing Type 2 charging socket found on all electric cars made by European manufactures. This means the CCS connector is essentially a standard type 2 European charging socket with two extra connectors underneath for high-power DC charging of the battery pack.

(Since type 2 charging stations are not used in the U.S., German cars made for U.S. export feature a modified version of the CCS charge socket, with the upper portion of the socket made up from a Type 1 (J-1772) socket instead of the European Type 2 socket. CCS Rapid chargers in the U.S. are therefore pin incompatible with European CCS chargers, )

Initially Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz — the firms responsible for helping shape the CCS charging standard — had wanted Germany to mandate that the CCS quick charge standard was the only DC quick charging standard that could be used in Germany, essentially banning the installation of any new CHAdeMO DC quick charging stations needed to quick charge cars like the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi Outlander, Mitsubishi i-Miev and Kia Soul EV.

New CHAdeMO charging will be allowed, but sites must also include CCS

New CHAdeMO charging will be allowed, but sites must also include CCS

Now, the proposed draft legislation is softer. Instead of mandating CCS as the only rapid charging standard for future charging infrastructure installations, it allows companies to install other DC or AC rapid charging standards provided a CCS charging station is also installed.

Further, it ensures that a failsafe type 2 (level 2) charging station is also installed in case of rapid charger failure and mandates that all charging providers report their charging station’s status to a central government database as well as carry out regular maintenance to ensure a high reliability of charging stations nationwide.

The legislation only covers new installations however, meaning that any existing CHAdeMO DC quick charge sites, any existing 3-phase 43 kilowatt AC quick charge sites (used only for the Renault ZOE electric car), and any existing Tesla Supercharger sites won’t have to comply.

But for any new installations, it means that CCS-compatible cars will need to be catered for, too.

From a pessimistic perspective, the new proposed legislation could be seen to be unfair to those with non-CCS vehicles, giving German-made CCS-compliant plug-in cars a competitive edge over their counterparts from elsewhere in the world. But since most public charging providers will want to cater to as many different electric vehicles as possible in order to increase revenue, we think installation of ‘triple-head’ DC/AC quick charging stations will quickly become the norm.

Only in a few cases — at dealerships for example — do we expect CCS-only installations.

From an optimistic perspective, the new legislation helps pave the way towards a future where all plug-in cars are better catered for, with better error and status reporting nationwide for German plug-in drivers.

More importantly, it ensures that when things go wrong, there’s always a basic fast-charging socket available as a fallback, meaning that even when things go wrong, people can still charge.

Sites will have to include basic backup alongside rapid charging options.

Sites will have to include basic backup alongside rapid charging options.

While we’re not bothered on which charging connector is crowned king, we think adding backup options — be they humble electrical outlets or fully-fledged type 2/level 2 charging stations — as well as mandating a minimum service interval and better interoperability will dramatically change plug-in networks worldwide.

That’s if similar approaches are adopted elsewhere, of course.

Do you agree? Would you like to see charging for all at every rapid charging site? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • dm33

    Very one sided story. Such legislation is awful. CCS has practically no deployment vs CHAdeMO and does little other than stall deployment of the de facto standard for quick charging.

    • Matt Beard

      This is very much Betamax v VHS – the CCS connector is technically a better solution and should win, but CHAdeMO is VHS and may end up on top. This legislation is like requiring all video rental shops stock at least a small number of Betamax films even if they specialise in VHS. It is not a huge extra cost as single CHAdeMO or dual-standard are very close in price.

      • vdiv

        Actually the Tesla-enhanced Mennekes Type 2 plug is the better solution as it is smaller and versatile. It really shows how idiotic CCS is.nnSo will Tesla now be required to provide charging for other makes?

        • vike

          I was wondering about that. The cost of accessing Superchargers is “baked in” to the Tesla purchase price, so Superchargers don’t need billing systems. Does this mean they have to add them just to sell charging service to non-Tesla CCS customers, even when the station is built at Tesla’s expense and sometimes even off the grid?

          • vdiv

            They do have an authentication system so in order for a third party to use them they will probably have to make some kind of a funding arrangement with Tesla. I don’t believe Tesla really wants to share the supercharger network with other makes as it will create some congestion issues. They just say that to appear open and embracing of all EVs. If that was really the case they would have installed L2 charging next to their superchargers already as required by this bill.

        • Tim Morgan

          I assume that if I install a charger at my house, I don’t have to comply with this law. In the same way, it seems to me that Superchargers are not *public* chargers, so they wouldn’t have to comply either. As someone else commented, they have no provision for billing or for any other type of connector. They’re only available to members of a private “club”—people who have bought Tesla cars which are Supercharger-enabled.

      • EVcine

        Betamax did win in the end it became Digital Betacam which went on to be the single most successful tape format in broadcasting history still being used for SD transmission and archivism in massive quantity around the world. No video tape format has lasted so long and dominated the world like DigiBeta . I can assure you most SD TV broadcasts you have been watching for the past 20 years has come off DigiBeta.

        • Matt Beard

          A good point, and one I am very well aware of 😉 Having said that, I haven’t used one since last century and I would be worried if any serious broadcaster is still adding DigiBeta to any archives. At the moment most I know of are busy converting tapes like this to more modern archive formats.

          • EVcine

            The problem with digital files is they are all based on systems that come and go. The BFI is still using more DigiBeta for SD content than any other format.

          • Matt Beard

            That shocks me! Where are they expecting to find DigiBeta players in 20 years time, or 50 years time! Personally I would vote for AXF.

          • EVcine

            You misunderstood I meant out going not archiving.

          • Rui Fonseca

            That worries me. In the future there will be many files that you won’t be able to open unless you have some old program that can only be run in older SOs.

      • Rui Fonseca

        I hope CCS wins.
        In this case it makes sense to regulate because the adoption of EVs benefits everyone.
        Enforcing a standard allows for more efficient development of a charging infrastructure.
        A good charging infrastructure is essential for EV adoption.

  • Richard Glover

    yes. the above picture of the CCS connector says it all. if it looks right, then that’s the one to go for.nwe all hope that the day when we simply stand by our machines whilst they fill up super quick is not far off and the CCS type is designed for that

    • vike

      CHAdeMO’s designed for that too. And it has millions more charging sessions of real-world experience. While I appreciate CCS’s aesthetic appeal, the fact is that it brings nothing to the table technically and needlessly muddied the DCQC waters for no cause beyond throwing furniture in Nissan’s way. Its backers are not EV leaders, so their motivations are pretty obvious.

      • Richard Glover

        you are certainly correct there but that is water under bridge. I only have experience of the CHAdeMO which whilst I find it reassuringly solid, it is a little non slick to use.

        • vike

          There are still a lot of clunky CHAdeMO ver 0.9 connectors out there (mostly the kinda nasty 0.9 Yazakis), but the ver 1.0 are much more “slick”, and will be the standard going forward. Many 0.9 connectors are already being replaced. You can see the differences here:nnhttp://www.chademo.com/wp/chademo-connectors/

      • Rui Fonseca

        The same can be said of the motivations of those who don’t back it.

  • Matt Beard

    I really like this – not the mandating of a CCS connector (that is a minor part for me) but the other provisions.nnnAll sites really should have a Type-2 backup socket for times when the rapid has failed (or for getting the last 10-20% slowly without hogging the rapid.nnnAll chargers should be reporting their status to a central database of some kind that everyone can use.nnnAll rapid chargers (and slower ones too) should have some sort of service level / maintenance requirement.

  • MEroller

    We (the electromotive world at large already driving/riding electric) had to actually write to our MP’s to help cement the notion that CCS ONLY is the wrong way to go and would put precisely those early adopters at a disadvantage that helped bring the whole automotive electrification process up to speed. Thus this compromise seems a little more reasonable now. But still only those quick charging stations with only CCS and Type 2 will receive government grants on installation :-(nnAll the lobbying here in Germany and in the EU makes me sick and angry, it is no better than “good old” bribing and should be prohibited by law – and that appropriately enforced too!

    • vike

      So you’re saying that including CHAdeMO support in a quick-charge station disqualifies it from government subsidies it would otherwise get? That isn’t mentioned in the article, and if true it makes this a horse of a very different (and much sicker) color. If you have a source for that handy, it’d be a favor to readers if you could post the link here.nnAssuming it’s true, given the importance of auto manufacturing to Germany and the status of CCS as the transparently yankee-euro-anti-nissan tool that it is, this isn’t too surprising for Germany, though I’d be very disappointed if this position were more widely taken through the EU.

      • mrowa

        The German national fast charging stations project SLAM that is planning to deploy 600 chargers in the country explicitly excludes CHAdeMO, by saying that ONLY CCS-only chargers can recieve subsidies. See a document from the project website that says exactly that : (in German), check page nr 6, first paragraphe on the left. nhttp://www.slam-projekt.de/pdfs/investoren/investorenbroschuere.pdfnnit makes Germany the only European country that explicitly excludes multi-standard chargers from a subsidy scheme.

        • vike

          I really don’t see what you’re describing on that page. In the table on page 7 though, I guess the relevant comment regarding grants is:nnEs ist auf Antrag eine Bezuschussung reiner CCS-Su00e4ulen in Hu00f6he von bis zu 40% (bei Nachweis des KMU-Status bis zu 50%) der anrechenbaren Kosten mu00f6glich.nn. . . which Google Translate (sorry, I don’t read German) interprets as:nnIt is at the request of a subsidy pure CCS columns of up to 40% (with proof of SME status up to 50%) of the eligible costs possible.nn. . . which I take to mean something like “subsidy of up to 40% (50% with proof of SME status) is available for CCS-only charging stations”.nnGerman speakers can verify that interpretation, but it sure seems to reek of anti-competitive (specifically anti-Japanese) interference by the German government.nnWithholding subsidies from any station that includes CHAdeMO or Chameleon alongside the mandated CCS utterly changes the character of this legislation, and makes this story seriously misleading as written. Sure, CHAdeMO is “allowed”, but investors interested in setting up charging stations are being given a strong financial incentive to avoid offering anything but CCS. Again, this is a little slippery for me because of the dodgy translation, but I hope Ms. Gordon-Bloomfield will look into this and correct the story as the facts dictate.nnInteresting wrinkle – will subsidies also be withheld from charging stations that are “multi-format ready”? There are already a number of those, a sensible reaction from both manufacturers and charging providers who want to hedge their bets. In theory, a grant could be obtained to build such a station as CCS-only, then at some point in the future CHAdeMO could be added at minimal expense. I wonder if there would be penalties for doing that.

          • MEroller

            Indeed, SLAM is the specific subsidy project that excludes every charging station that has anything more than CCS on board from being subsidized . It is truly sickening what politics are doing here to thwart the advent of electric mobility as long as possible in Germany 🙁

          • So can you help us understand this better?

          • I’ve just done some more digging: and it seems that these are two different projects. There’s the proposed legislation (which we covered above) and then there’s the SLAM project, which seems to be asking for funding. nnSo the two projects aren’t linked.

          • Marc Kudling

            Correct Nikki. As I got it: The SLAM project funds about 400 CCS charging station throughout Germany, but these might also be multi standard chargers – CHAdeMO is not excluded, but not required either. nThe legislation draft on the other hand tries to straighten things out. In my opinion, it is good that operators will have to report their stations, so there will be a central database with all EV quick chargers soon. Also, operators will be mandated to run regular maintenance procedures. That is good for safety and reliability. On the other hand might also increase the costs and make some operators remove stations. But the main issue with all this CCS/CHAdeMO efforts is, that these systems will be outdated very soon! The charging power is just to low. That’s also why Tesla never jumped on CCS even though they were part of the first committees! 50 kW is not sufficient for a 85 kWh battery. At least not if you want to call it quick charging. There will be soon cars with 40 kWh and more all over the place. Will we have to replace all these expensive CCS chargers then? I say yes! That is my personal opinion.

          • mrowa

            But the document I quoted earlier says rather clearly that SLAM state subsidies will only go to CCS-only chargers, isn’t it? So effectively, if anyone wants to build chargers with CHAdeMO they will have to pay for them out of their own pocket, whereas if it’s CCS THEN it’s subsidised. Which means that people will probably be less willing to install multi-standard, than single. Right? nNikki, yes, it’s a fast charging project I was talking about, while the law is something different.

          • EVrider

            mrowa – so have you forgotten how Nissan subsidised the initial rollout of CHAdeMO-only chargers – for obvious market share reasons? The Germans are only doing the same business tactic in reverse. Business is business. Business aside, the latest CCS standard handles way more power (and therefore reduced charge time) than CHAdeMO’s current guise.

          • MEroller

            Sure, SLAM is a project (comparable to the various “electric highways” out there), whereas legislation is legislation. One thing they do have in common though: CCS is their KING, which leads to strange side effects. I will work my way through the SLAM stuff and summarize the quirks around Chademo for you per email, Nikki.

          • MEroller

            Nikki, you’ve got mail 🙂

          • Thanks 🙂

          • We’re working on it. We’re not native German Speakers, so we’re working our sources very hard!

          • EVcine

            Google Translate is very easy.

          • Google translate misses the point. Thanks to our contacts, we’ve got some more solid info now. Thanks 🙂

    • Rui Fonseca

      The way to go is:
      – For the next 10 years you can install any plug type as long as you install CCS.
      – After 10 years you can only install CCS.

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  • Roger Atkins
  • EVcine

    TESLA has the slimmest most attractive and easy to use charge plug and they also have have the most powerful chargers massively more powerful than anything else.nSo why is all this typical ugly Euro crap so bloody awful even the chargers themselves are big, ugly horrid things and there is NO reason for them to look like that. Just another case of Euro idiots with no design imagination.

    • TornyiBarnabu00e1sazIsten

      You sound like you have a Tesla plug up your arse.

      • EVcine

        You sound like a typical ignorant thug who can never appreciate when someone is acting for your and everyone else’s benefit.nTypical to your kind you have no actual complaint to make about anything wrong with what I have said. Most people want well designed products that are pleasing or neutral to the eye and work properly when they need them to.

    • Threesides

      I’m pretty sure the European version of the Tesla supercharger is designed by Tesla, not by “Euro idiots with no design imagination”. Still, the European version is different from the US version, you can’t supercharge a European Tesla in the US, and vice versa.

      • EVcine

        WRONG !! A TESLA MODEL S can charge at any SUPERCHARGER anywhere in the world !!

        • André W. Asbjørnsen

          The supercharger plug for non-US Teslas is based on a type 2 plug design enhanced to handle more power. The plug for superchargers in the US is different. Just look it up…

          • EVcine

            Total rubbish the TESLA plug is a universal device for all TESLA Model S and TESLA Superchargers. The cars only need different attachments for NON Tesla charging stations.

          • Threesides

            You’re very loud. Which is a bad sign for you, because loud people are usually wrong. If you bring a US Model S to Europe, you won’t be able to connect to a supercharger directly. Trust me. I’m not loud.

        • Threesides

          Good luck trying to force the plug into the car then.

      • EVcine

        You cannot even understand what I said. I was talking about the NON Tesla devices in Europe that are ugly crap designed by idiots.

        • Threesides

          You may be right. Maybe I was blinded by your display of hate. But then again, I’m probably just a Euro idiot to you.

  • EVcine

    Still no one is addressing the issue I raised. Why is it that both the plug featured in the photo and the chargers featured in the other photo are so big and ugly when they handle far less power than the TESLA system that has a slim plug and nice designed chargers ?

    • Rui Fonseca

      They may allow for better heat dissipation and have more room for future improvements (increasing charging speed).

  • Victor Skimmeland

    Well,Tesla obviously has been left out the consideration here. Limits on Tesla will probably wake up the Americans, most likely causing sanctions against German permium cars in America. A helping hand from American Trade officials in Europe may serve Tesla very well in the long term back home as well, as they experience continued attacks against their sales model from the Big Three of Detroit, various dealer corporations and Republican politicians in several states.

    Now, there’s no way other car manufacurers are going to be let in on Tesla’s free Superchargers unless they buy their way in. And buy their way in, they may. Tesla has extended an olive branch to all. So who will be the first among German manufacurers to defect in order to get access to a Europe-wide supercharging network? Audi? BMW?

    Finally, a German law trying to muscle the Japanese out of the market is not likely to survive for long with the French, either. Two French electric car makers – Peugeot and Citroën – subscribe to the Japanese standard, while Renault doesn’t comply with the German standard either. ESA, anyone?

  • Ole_Henriksen

    Teslas charging solution should`ve been made the european standard. Better design, smaller and easier to use, far greater charging speeds +++. The CCS and CHAdeMO solutions are outdated already….

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