Who said electric cars are complicated? If you need to charge while out on a journey, choosing the right charger for a rapid range top-up is easy enough as there are only two real choices and your car will only be designed to take one or the other. The first goes by the funky name of CHAdeMO and the other the more straight-laced Combined Charging System otherwise known as CCS. There is a third type, the Tesla connector designed by Tesla for Teslas and which used only with the Tesla Supercharger network.
So why the different types of rapid charging connection?
We’ve seen it all before. A new tech comes along and competing companies have different ideas on how to do things. In the world of electric cars, that meant a fair sized crop of different types of charging connectors (or plugs as most of us think of them) arrived on the scene.
For rapid DC charging, the three types were dreamed up by think tanks in different regions of the world and they compete with one another. Japan developed CHAdeMO, Tesla, the North American Charging Standard for its own cars using the Supercharger network, and CCS was conceived in Germany.
Type 1 CCS was also adopted by the United States and in Europe, the standard is Type 2 CCS. That’s what most new cars sold in the UK are now equipped with including the Tesla Model 3 and the new Nissan Ariya, which use different plugs elsewhere in the world.
Even the Ariya uses the CCS standard in the UK and Europe, despite the Leaf using CHdeMO
What is a CCS charger?
The CCS connector is only used for DC rapid charging so you won’t be using it at home or even for the faster 22kW AC charging you may find when out and about or at work. In that case, a Type 2 connector does the job and leads are supplied with new cars in the UK to allow connection to a public AC charger or a wallbox that doesn’t have its own integrated charging lead.
You can connect to a commercial rapid charger of the sort you find at public charging stations, using the CCS port on your car. All you need to do is pull up to the charger and follow the instructions on the charger for connecting and charging. The most modern and simplest method is that you plug the car in and tap a payment card as you would when making any other purchase, and away you go.
This year, Tesla also opened up selected stations on its charging network to non-Tesla cars for the first time equipped with both CCS and Tesla-only connections. For that you will need to get the Tesla app on your phone and sign up with the “charge your non-Tesla” option.
How do I tell which charger cable is CCS on a dual charger?
That’s easy, it should be clearly marked on the charger but when you’re pulling in to park you can tell at a glance. The CCS charger connector is usually the large black one and the CHAdeMO is blue. In common with CHAdeMO or AC connectors, CCS is represented on apps and elsewhere by its own graphic symbol.
That’s useful when checking apps or websites for availability of CCS chargers at a particular location. The European CCS charging connector is represented by a large circle containing a number of smaller circles sitting on top of a horizontal lozenge shape containing two circles.
The CCS charger is usually black, while the CHdeMO is blue