Charging standards are on the way

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Electric, electric, electric. The hoopla about electric trucks has been literally inescapable. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re about to take over the trucking world, but it may be quite a few years before everything is in place to make them fly.

Among all the hurdles yet to be leaped over, one practical aspect has been given short shrift: charging standards, of which there are none. And by the way, “shrift” is an archaic noun that originally referred to the confession uttered before an execution. A short one was a good idea, lest the man with the beheading axe get too impatient. But boy, do I ever digress.

Anyway, let’s look at those standards. It’s an important issue, and very quietly progress is being made.

Penske Truck Leasing has joined the Charging Interface Initiative, a group oddly known as CharIn, focused on promoting the Combined Charging System (CCS) as a global standard for charging electric vehicles. Penske’s not alone. Giant electric truck and battery maker BYD joined the group in the summer, with other members including companies such as BMW, FCA, Ford, GM, Porsche, and Renault.

Earlier this year the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) published a recommended practice for the plug-in charging of heavy-duty electric vehicles. The new standard was designed to offer a single-vehicle charging coupler solution for three-phase and single-phase AC and DC charging.

SAE approved a new three-phase coupler for the plug-in charging of electric vehicles, along with the organization’s recommended practice for plug-in charging of such vehicles.

Dubbed the J3068 Electric Vehicle Power Transfer System, the new coupler was developed from existing international standards, which were extended to cover higher North American grid voltages and higher power levels.

According to SAE, J3068 allows vehicles to fully utilize three-phase AC power where it’s available and preferred, such as at commercial and industrial locations.

(For more information about J3068: Electric Vehicle Power Transfer System Using a Three-Phase Capable Coupler, or to purchase the standard, go to

Penske will focus its attention on promoting charging standards for commercial vehicles by participating in the group’s High Power Charging for Commercial Vehicles Task Force.

“As a leading services provider to commercial fleets, we feel standardization around electric vehicle charging and charging stations will help accelerate the use of electric vehicles within the transportation industry,” said Brian Hard, president and CEO of Penske Truck Leasing. “The interoperability of vehicle charging stations over the road is essential for commercial fleet uptime, efficiency, maintenance, and general ease of use for the industry.”

Standardizing electric vehicle charging standards could reduce complexity of the technology for fleets and drivers as well as for maintenance providers and vehicle recharging companies.

“Our goal is to extend CCS capabilities to meet the requirements for commercial EV charging,” said Oleg Logvinov, the spokesperson for CharIn in North America and president and CEO of IoTecha. “The input from end users is the key to our success. Penske is the first fleet operator to join our team and this brings this important work one step closer to successful completion.”

BYD is bringing its clean energy expertise and experience to the coalition as it develops the CCS. BYD notes that standardization eliminates the need for customers to invest in multiple charging systems.

“CCS is currently the world’s only charging system that covers all charging scenarios with a single product, and our support of CCS will help pave the way for more efficient transportation solutions,” said Bobby Hill, vice-president of BYD North America – coach and bus.

This is very encouraging stuff because no new technology can thrive until standards exist and allow it to expand unfettered. Better yet is when end users participate in the development of those standards. We’re on the right path.


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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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