The bigger picture
The EV industry is still in its infancy. Granted, they were first seen in the 1900s and then briefly in the 1970s, but since then, technologies have evolved at such a rapid pace that these previous experiments cannot really be taken into account.
Today’s EV development cannot be conceived without taking the bigger picture into account. 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.
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 sector. The IEC in particular has recognized very early on the benefits that EVs could offer in terms of potential energy storage and environmental issues.
Electric and electronic infrastructure
Many IEC TCs (Technical Committees) 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 SMB (Standardization Management Board) has also set up a strategic group, SG 6: Electrotechnology for mobility, to investigate interactions between EVs on the one side and the electricity supply infrastructure on the other. The aim is to analyze market and industry developments, identify gaps and overlaps in IEC International Standards and to ensure that a timely delivery of the appropriate standards.
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, has the solution.
EV programme launched
In 2012, IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) launched 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 & 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 two International Standards. They define the plugs and sockets which can be used to charge an EV. IEC 62196-1 contains the general requirements while IEC 62196-2 standardizes three types of mains connecting systems, known as Types 1, 2 and 3. Which of these is appropriate depends largely upon the electrical infrastructure and regulatory conditions in each country.
These standards build upon IEC 61851-1 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 only to mains charging (Modes 1 to 3). A third standard, IEC 62196-3, is being developed to standardize DC (direct current) 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 APU (auxiliary power unit).
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.