Development of conductive charging systems for electric vehicles poses unique challenges in vehicle electrification. For many of us, the charge plug represents one of the most tangible indicators of its revolution. Just a few years ago, this product was relatively unknown. Today? Charging stations are becoming more of a familiar feature in the urban landscape.
EV and plug-in hybrid owners believe the charge plug provides an obvious point of difference between their cleaner, greener vehicles. For OEMs and their suppliers, the charge plug also stands out. Primarily because it provides the industry with a unique set of challenges, derived from both the automotive and consumer domains – not just in terms of engineering, but also in the approvals and certifications required for these products to get to market.
A different breed of automotive connector design
Of course, the shift to electrification has required the development of a wide array of innovative new connectors capable of safely handling the far-higher voltages employed in zero and low emission vehicles.
However, in the case of the charge plug, the need for protection extends further, encompassing not only end users, technicians and the vehicle, but also the electrical infrastructure, buildings and/or stations associated with the charging process. And the challenges do not stop there. Because the charge plug is handled so frequently by the end user, ergonomics become another key consideration
Change is the only constant
The relentless pace of change represents another complicating factor for the development and deployment of the charging cord set. Even by the standards of the electrification revolution, the speed is incredible. In the space of five or six years, Aptiv has migrated its charge plug range from first to third generation designs. Additionally, as the drive for greater battery capacity and faster charging intensifies, so does the development cycle.
Negotiating the approval maze
Alongside the engineering convergence complexities, OEMs and suppliers must also contend with different approval and certification processes because the charge cord links the vehicle to an electrical infrastructure. As a result, it effectively has one foot in the automotive world, and another in infrastructure and consumer products.
So while North America, Europe and Asia have each generally adopted common standards such as IEC 62196, SAE J 1772, GBT 20234, UL 2231, IEC 62752 and IEC 61851 for charging EVs and plug-in hybrids, electrical infrastructures and regulatory requirements within them can still vary from country to country.
Aptiv leads the field
No one understands these issues better than Aptiv. The company has been an active supporter of the automotive electrification movement since its inception, and with its sustained commitment to R&D in this field, it’s resulted in an extensive array of industry-leading high voltage connectors.
This includes a comprehensive portfolio of approved-for-use charge plugs, charge cord sets and electronics to serve various customers in more than 100 different countries worldwide.
No substitute for experience
With many industries backing the drive for dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions, the momentum behind electrification in the mobility sector is understandable. But the demand for charging solutions is not growing in just volume. As OEMs seek to deliver greater convenience and range capability in their EV and plug-in hybrid designs, further evolution will happen.
Who is best placed to respond are companies that have been through the learning curve of the different approval and certification processes. Who best placed to respond are companies that can support customers that are vested in electrification.
The answer is clear. The answer is Aptiv.