The bigger picture
The EV industry is still in its infancy. Although they were first seen in the 1900s and then briefly in the 1970s, technologies have evolved at such a rapid pace in recent years that these previous experiments cannot really be taken into account.
Today’s EV development cannot be conceived without considering the bigger picture. EVs are not stand-alone products. Connection to the grid, two-way communications, energy storage, to name but a few issues, have to be taken into account. A broad roll-out of EVs will require significant investment into the energy and charging infrastructure.
Wide support from standardization and CA
Car manufacturers however are not alone in this still new venture. Governments increasingly push for electrified transportation and in many cases offer incentives for EV development.
Support also comes from the standardization and conformity assessment (CA) sector. The IEC in particular has recognized very early on the benefits that EVs could offer in terms of potential energy storage and the environment.
Electric and electronic infrastructure
Many IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and thousands of experts work on the electric and electronic infrastructure that allows cars to operate as expected and connect safely to the grid. IEC standardization work includes:
- a multitude of components, switches, connectors, wires
- lighting and displays that are built into any modern car
- audio, video, in-vehicle communication and connection
- batteries, capacitors and fuel-cells
- connectors and charging infrastructure, electric accessories, inductive charging, and more
- functional safety of charging stations and vehicles
- overall electrical safety and protection from shocks, overvoltage and fires electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
- interfaces and protocols for vehicle-to-grid communication, IT security and data protection
The IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB) has also established a Systems Evaluation Group, SEG 5: Electrotechnology for mobility, to evaluate the interaction between plug-in electric vehicles and the electricity supply infrastructure and propose an IEC approach for the development of e-mobility standards. Its mission is to determine the best solution (in terms of safety, interoperability and system performance), for the future work of systems-level standards for electric vehicles within the IEC. This includes close synchronization and coordination with automobile manufacturers and suppliers, ISO/TC 22: Road vehicles, IEC Systems Committee (SyC) on Smart Energy, IEC SEG 1: Smart Cities, applicable IEC TCs and Subcommittees (SCs), fora and consortia.
Certifying compliance to Standards
However, compliance with IEC International Standards is only the first step. To make sure the parts and components used in manufacturing EVs are of the highest quality and reliability, they need to be tested and certified.
Here again the IEC, through its Conformity Assessment Systems, offers a key part of the solution.
IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) has a specific programme for EVs, called ELVH The IECEE CB Scheme, through its registered CBTLs (Certification Body Testing Laboratories), and NCBs (National Certification Bodies), can test and certify charging systems and stations and plugs against two series of IEC International Standards:
- IEC 61851, Electric vehicle conductive charging system
- IEC 62196, Plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors and vehicle inlets
EV charging Standards
The IEC 62196 series comprises three International Standards. They define the plugs and sockets which can be used to charge an EV. IEC 62196-1:2014 contains the general requirements; IEC 62196-2:2011 standardizes dimensional compatibility and interchangeability requirements for alternative current (AC) pin and contact-tube accessories; and IEC 62196-3:2014 deals with dimensional compatibility and interchangeability requirements for direct current (DC) and AC/DC pin and contact-tube vehicle couplers.
These Standards build upon IEC 61851-1:2010 which defines the four modes of charging an EV from a power source. Modes 1 to 3 are estimated to allow an EV to be fully charged in between three and ten hours through direct connection to a mains supply. Mode 4 could fully charge an EV in under ten minutes, but as it uses off-grid batteries, it is the most expensive to implement.
The new general IEC 62196-1 Standard applies to all four of these modes while IEC 62196-2 applies to mains charging (Modes 1 to 3) and IEC 62196-3 to DC charging (Mode 4).
In addition, IEC 61851-1 defines three cable and plug setups which can be used to charge EVs: Case A, where the cable is permanently attached to the EV; Case B, where the cable is not permanently attached to anything; and Case C where the cable is permanently attached to the charging station.
IECEE-certified automotive parts and components
But IECEE was involved in the testing and certification of parts and components for the automotive industry long before it launched the ELVH category. Lighting, switches, electrical safety, EMC, hazardous substances have all belonged to the IECEE portfolio for many years.
Relying on batteries
And so have batteries. Fuel-powered and hybrid cars, trucks, buses, locomotives and aircraft also rely on batteries to start their engine or, in some cases, the auxiliary power unit (APU).
When testing and certifying EV batteries, IECEE focuses on multiple aspects. Electrical energy storage is an important element that will have an impact on EV range and battery-charging frequency. Endurance and lifespan are also under scrutiny. To avoid risks such as overheating and short circuits, parameters such as voltage, current, power and temperature also need to be measured and tested.
Through its standardization and conformity assessment work, the IEC offers a truly global platform that covers the electric and electronic infrastructure that allows cars to operate safely and helps the EV industry make the connection to the grid.