19 January 2021

Charging Cables – Inconspicuous, but Indispensable

Nobody has ever chosen an electric vehicle (EV) by its charging cable, but let’s face the truth: If you don’t have one, you won’t drive. Refueling or in this case empowering cars via their charging cables is crucial for passengers to keep their mobility. And by this, our inconspicuous cable is a very important item to get on the road (again).

Additionally, it is an economic factor: Like the reserve tire or the emergency kit a charging cable must be included in every EV. The market for EV is expanding and so is the market for charging cables.

Safety is Key
Keeping in mind that charging could be a human safety issue it is extremely important to have a product that will protect the user in any situation for a mall functioning and a potentially dangerous situation. Smart cables are far more than an open channel for energy transfer. By controlling and negotiating the charging process they are – in fact – a safety device. Here is what the cable does for you to ensure safe charging even at doubtful charging installations:

  • It monitors permanently the grid for voltage, the ground connection and the frequency to observe that the installation meet the expectations.
  • At the same time the residual current is monitored, and the charging gets terminated if a dangerous level is exceeded.
  • Furthermore, the cable monitors the charging current and cycle to prevent any overloading or short-circuiting (and therefore, overheating and potential fire) during charging. In case that the power socket is of poor quality, the charging get slowed down or stopped at all in order to avoid dangerous circumstances. The cable will indicate that the car is not charging.

Unfortunately, the cable doesn’t talk to you to inform you over its current state. At least not yet. So, for the human touch a Human-machine-interface of any kind must be included. The range here goes from simple single-color LEDs to fully fledged touch displays with connectivity features like those of a wall box.

When Two Worlds Collide
The automotive market for electric cars currently offers a wide range of vehicle types. Although standardized connector systems do exist worldwide, there are various challenges when it comes to validation and certification. Still, for an aftermarket application with a limited market this is a manageable task. But a European grid with a limited customer base is not comparable to the demand of an OEM-device (Original Equipment Manufacturer) with global market. Here, two worlds, the residential/industrial sector and the automotive world, literally collide. Which results in IEC/GBT/UL requirements with additional national regulation and power grids clash various OEM requirements like robustness, plug and play, safety and protection. Several international standards have been defined for these charging cables and are included in the Inter Cable Control and Protection Device (ICCPD). Those different sometimes contrary requirements create a large variation matrix and all variants need to be tested/validated to fulfill the individual certifications and OEM requirements before a market release.

Neways Charging Cable Electronics
Lost track on the regulations? We didn’t. Together with its partners Neways began developing charging cable electronics when the ICCPD standard was still in its very initial stage. So, whenever the standard was modified, Neways kept up and will keep up with every change to come. The charging cable electronics developed by Neways can be deployed worldwide as it takes all the international requirements into account. Actually as mentioned at the beginning: inconspicuous, but indispensable.