Charging on the go

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There are different types of plugs that need to be taken into account when charging electric cars. Here you can find a list of the most common plug types: 

  • Type 2 plug: this is the most widely used plug for AC charging in Europe. Almost all public charging stations in Europe are equipped with type 2 sockets.
  • CCS (Combined Charging System): this plug combines the type 2 connection for alternating current with additional power contacts for direct current (DC) rapid charging. The CCS plug is standardised in Europe and the USA and is used for rapid charging stations.
  • CHAdeMO: the CHAdeMO standard is mainly used by Asian car manufacturers and is a DC rapid charging connection.
  • Type 1 connector: the type 1 plug is mainly used in the USA and parts of Asia, where it serves as a standard charging plug.
In European cities and on major traffic routes, there are numerous public charging stations operated by various providers. There are roaming agreements between many European countries and charging station operators. These enable electric car drivers to charge at charging stations abroad without having to conclude separate contracts. The charging stations are also designed to support different plug types. In addition, you can use a mobile charger that is compatible with different plug types and charging systems. Even though the expansion of the charging network for electric cars in Europe is steadily growing, it is advisable to carry out research before travelling across Europe.

Electric cars can be charged using either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). 

  • Alternating current (AC): the battery of an electric car stores direct current. Our power grid, on the other hand, supplies alternating current, which has to be converted in the electric car using a rectifier. AC charging is particularly worthwhile for longer charging processes, as AC chargers have lower production, installation and operation costs. 
  • Direct current (DC): Direct current does not need to be converted in the electric car. For DC charging, the rectifier is already installed in the charging station. The output of DC rapid charging stations can be several tens to over 100 kW. Advantages: this means that the electric car is charged much faster. However, rapid charging draws more electricity, which is why the costs are higher. It is particularly suitable for short charging phases.

Common payment methods at electric car charging stations are:

  • Charging apps: Many providers allow payment via smartphone apps. To do this, users must register and enter a payment method (debit, credit card, digital payment services). Alternatively, it is also possible to top up a certain amount as credit. To charge, you usually only have to scan the QR code of the charging station or authenticate yourself using the smartphone’s Near Field Communication (NFC).
  • Charging card: Charging cards have a radio frequency identification chip (RFID) that can be used for identification. The RFID chip enables precise cost recording, the monthly charging costs are invoiced at the end of the month. In addition to regional charging card providers, there are also providers of roaming networks. Charging roaming is not limited to individual providers and is worthwhile, for example, for electric car drivers who also travel abroad.
  • Credit or debit cards: Some charging stations accept direct payments by credit or debit card. Customers insert their card or use contactless payment methods to start the charging process.

Note: Payment options vary by provider and country. 

  • Cash payment: Only a few charging stations offer the option of paying for charging in cash. For this, the charging station must be equipped with a pay machine and be able to issue change. For charging station operators, this is a big effort in terms of maintenance and security, which is rarely worthwhile.
  • Payment by text message: At some public charging stations, it is possible to pay for the charged power for your electric car by text message. The prerequisite is that use of this function for third-party payment has been enabled by your mobile phone provider. Billing takes place directly via the prepaid credit or the mobile phone contract.
In the Plug&Charge system, the charging and payment process takes place automatically as soon as the charging cable is plugged in. The charging station and the electric car “communicate” with each other by exchanging the data required for the process in encrypted form. This authenticates and invoices battery charging. The prerequisite for this is a suitable charging current contract. At present, Plug&Charge technology is only available in some electric car models and therefore has scope for expansion.