Volvo joins carmakers' call to standardise electric car charging

A global standard for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is "sorely needed" as the last piece in the jigsaw to cement the rising popularity of EVs, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has claimed.

The Volvo XC90 - one of the Group's range of plug-in hybrid cars

The Volvo XC90 - one of the Group's range of plug-in hybrid cars

In a company statement, Volvo Cars’ senior vice-president for research & development Peter Mertens said the lack of EV charging standards and certification “is one of the main obstacles for growing EVs’ share of the market.

“We see that a shift towards fully electric cars is already underway, as battery technology improves, costs fall and charging infrastructure is put in place,” said Mertens. “But while we are ready from a technology perspective, the charging infrastructure is not quite there yet. To really make range anxiety a thing of the past, a globally standardised charging system is sorely needed.”

Combined charging

To support the company’s drive towards a global EV charging standard, Volvo Cars has this week thrown its weight behind the Charging Interface Initiative, a consortium founded by fellow car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Mennekes, Opel, Phoenix Contact, Porsche, TÜV SÜD and Volkswagen to accelerate the adoption of a ‘Combined Charging System’ (CCS) for electric cars.

The CCS combines normal and fast-charging capabilities in one integrated system, with rapid three-phase EV charging and direct-current EV charging both available from the same charge point, making EV ownership more practical and convenient – especially in urban environments.

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of plug-in hybrid cars, Volvo has previously pledged to offer a plug-in hybrid variant of every new model and introduce a fully electric vehicle by 2019, as it replaces its entire product portfolio in the coming years.

No idling

Meanwhile, Volvo Group - which is seperate from Volvo Cars and is responsible for the production of trucks, buses and construction equipment - this week released its 2015 Sustainability Report. In the report, Volvo reveals that total energy consumption for the Group amounted to 2,106GWh last year - a reduction of 70GWh compared to 2014. The main activity behind this reduction, Volvo Group says, was increased energy efficiency.

Specifically, the Group cites a behaviour change initiative for the Volvo Construction Equipment (VCE) side of the business, which focused on reducing the idling time of its drivers. By raising awarenss of the environmental benefits of switching off engines rather than idling, electricity consumption at the VCE's six largest plants reduced by 19% in 2015 and by 39% overall since 2012 - this is equivalent to heating 343 houses in Sweden for a full year.

Biofuel

Later in the report, the Group signals an intention to move further into the alternative fuels market, with a heightened focus on low-carbon Dimethylether (DME), which can be produced from any biomass source.

Field-testing of DMA fuel produced from food waste for Mack and Volvo Trucks in 2015 reduced CO2 by 68% compared to conventional diesel fuel, Volvo said. “Volvo Group truly believes that DME holds great promise for the future,” the report reads. “The Volvo Group will continue developing engines that can operate on DME as a fuel for commercial vehicles with an initial focus on highway applications.

"In the future, DME could be used in most applications.”

Luke Nicholls


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