There are many reasons to consider switching to one powered by electricity from a gasoline-powered car. Electric vehicles are quieter, have lower operating costs and produce far less total emissions well to the wheel. Not all electric cars and plug-ins are created equal, however. The EV charging connector or standard type of plug particularly varies across geographies and models.
Norms on North American EV Plug
Every manufacturer of electric vehicles in North America (except Tesla) uses the SAE J1772 connector, also known as the J-plug, for level 1 charging (120 volt) and level 2 charging (240 volt). Tesla provides every car they sell with a Tesla charger adapter cable that enables their cars to use charging stations that have a J1772 connector. This means that any electric vehicle sold in North America will be able to use any charging station with the standard J1772 connector.
This is important to know, because the J1772 connector is used by every non-Tesla level 1 or level 2 charging station sold in North America. All our JuiceBox products for example use the standard J1772 connector. On any JuiceBox charging station, however, Tesla vehicles can charge by using the adapter cable that Tesla includes with the car. Tesla makes its own charging stations which use a proprietary Tesla connector, and other brands’ EVs cannot use them unless they buy an adapter.
This may sound a bit confusing, but one way to look at it is that any electric vehicle you buy today can use a charging station with a J1772 connector, and every level 1 or level 2 charging station available today uses the J1772 connector, except for those made by Tesla.
Standards DC Fast Charge EV Plug in North America
For DC fast charging, which is high-speed EV charging that is only available in public areas, it’s a little more complicated, most often along major freeways where long distance travel is common. DC fast chargers are not available for home charging, as there are usually no electricity requirements in residential buildings. It is also not recommended to use DC fast charging stations more than once or twice a week, because if done too often, the high recharging rate can adversely affect the battery life of an electric car.
DC fast chargers use 480 volts and can charge an electric vehicle faster than your standard charging unit, in as little as 20 minutes, thus allowing for convenient long-distance EV travel without worrying about running out of juice. Unfortunately, DC Fast Chargers use three different types of connectors instead of just two different connectors, as used in level 1 and level 2 charging (J1772 and Tesla).
CCS (Combined Charging System): The J1772 charging inlet is used by the CCS connector, and two pins are added below. The J1772 connector is “combined” with the high-speed charging pins, which is how it has got its name. CCS is the accepted standard in North America, and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed and endorsed it. Just about every automaker today has agreed to use the CCS standard in North America, including: General Motors (all divisions), Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Honda, Kia, Fiat, Hyundai, Volvo, smart, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls Royce and others.
CHAdeMO: The Japanese utility TEPCO developed CHAdeMo. It is the official Japanese standard and virtually all Japanese DC fast chargers use a CHAdeMO connector. It’s different in North America where Nissan and Mitsubishi are the only manufacturers that currently sell electric vehicles that use the CHAdeMO connector. The only electric vehicles that use the type of CHAdeMO EV charging connector are the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Kia quit CHAdeMO in 2018 and now offers CCS. CHAdeMO connectors do not share part of the connector with the J1772 inlet, as opposed to the CCS system, so they require an additional ChadeMO inlet on the car This necessitates a larger charge port
Tesla: Tesla uses the same Level 1, Level 2 and DC quick charging connectors. It’s a proprietary Tesla connector that accepts all voltage, so as the other standards require, there’s no need to have another connector specifically for DC fast charge. Only Tesla vehicles can use their DC fast chargers, called Superchargers. Tesla installed and maintains these stations, and they are for the exclusive use of Tesla customers. Even with an adapter cable, it would not be possible to charge a non-tesla EV at a Tesla Supercharger station. That’s because there is an authentication process that identifies the vehicle as a Tesla before it grants access to the power.
Standards on European EV Plug
EV charging connector types in Europe are similar to those in North America, but there are a couple of differences. First, the standard household electricity is 230 volts, almost twice as much as North America’s used. There is no “level 1” charging in Europe, for that reason. Second, instead of the J1772 connector, the IEC 62196 Type 2 connector, commonly referred to as mennekes, is the standard used by all manufacturers except Tesla in Europe.
Nevertheless, Tesla recently switched the Model 3 from its proprietary connector to the Type 2 connector. Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles sold in Europe are still using the Tesla connector, but speculation is that they too will eventually switch to the European Type 2 connector.
Also in Europe, DC fast charging is the same as in North America, where CCS is the standard used by virtually all manufacturers except Nissan, Mitsubishi. The CCS system in Europe combines the Type 2 connector with the tow dc quick charge pins just like the J1772 connector in North America, so while it is also called CCS, it’s a slightly different connector. Model Tesla 3 now uses European CCS connector.
How do I know which plug-in my electric vehicle is using?
While learning can seem like a lot, it’s pretty simple really. All electric cars use the connector which is the standard in their respective markets for level 1 and level 2 charging, North America , Europe, China , Japan, etc. Tesla was the only exception, but all of its cars come with an adapter cable to power the market standard. Tesla Level 1 or 2 charging stations can also be used by non-Tesla electric vehicles, but they need to use an adapter that can be purchased from a third party vendor.
There are smartphone apps like Plugshare, which list all the EV charging stations that are publicly available, and specify the type of plug or connector.
If you are interested in charging electric cars at home, and are concerned with different types of EV charging connectors, there is no need to worry. Every charging unit in your respective market will come with the industry standard connector that your EV uses. In North America that will be the J1772, and in Europe it’s the Type 2. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our customer support team, they’ll be happy to answer any electric vehicle charging questions you may have.