FRANKFURT -- Europe's automakers proposed a joint set of recommendations to standardize the charging of electric vehicles, enabling the use of one type of plug regardless of car make, electricity provider or country.
The proposal could be crucial in ensuring zero-emission electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV gain between 3-10 percent of new vehicle sales by 2020 to 2025, the European auto industry association ACEA said.
"This is a major step towards the broader introduction of electrically-chargeable vehicles in Europe and paves the way for a harmonized solution around the globe," said Ivan Hodac, Secretary General of the ACEA, in a statement Thursday.
"We call on the European Commission, the standardization bodies and the infrastructure providers to adopt these recommendations and to clear remaining issues as soon as possible."
The market across Europe and abroad is fragmented by a variety of solutions.
The European auto industry's recommendations cover the whole link between the public charging infrastructure and the vehicle inlet, including communication between the two, and address slow and fast-charging with direct or alternate current, ACEA said.
Carmakers will begin applying them uniformly in each new vehicle cycle as soon as approved by relevant standardization bodies, but full implementation for all new vehicles types is not expected until 2017.
"Standardization provides predictability to investors; it enables economy of scale and reduces costs. We have also ensured a solution that meets the highest safety standards and is easy to use," said Hodac.
In July, Wulf-Peter Schmidt, Ford of Europe's manager of sustainability, said that without a widespread, reliable charging infrastructure, affordable, safe products and common standards it will be difficult for electric vehicles to gain traction.
Schmidt, who has been taking part in EU-level discussions on EV standards, said that there had been competing views on how to move forward, with some manufacturers believing simplicity is the key while others think the rules and the required equipment for charging EVs should be engineered for the long term. Their fear is that the equipment that becomes part of the standards could be inferior to new technology even before an infrastructure is created.
''If we make the decision too quick there could be problems with harmonization," Schmidt said.
Sources: Reuters; with contributions from David Jolley