Charging an electric car in SA could be complicated - what to know about various EV cables

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• The South African carpool's electric offering will grow over the next few years.

• Each EV will be kitted with at least two charging cables.

• The fastest charging cable is a CCS DC charger.

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Over the last year, we reported on several electric vehicles (EVs) making their way to South Africa, as well as those currently on sale locally. It'd be hard to ignore these vehicles, mainly because the Jaguar I-Pace has been voted the 2020 South African Car of the Year. Despite its price, the I-Pace is a revelation in the automotive world and a good indication of what we can expect from EVs in future.

However, did you know that there are more to EVs than meets the eye? Particularly, when it comes to charging cables.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), one of the leaders in EV technology, notes important information users should be aware of.

It says: "Generally speaking, there are only two types of cables necessary for charging an EV such as the Jaguar I-Pace, and these would be for AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). DC charging, often referred to as fast charging, is normally reserved for public places such as shopping centres and involves a much thicker cable which is permanently tethered to the charging unit.

"Home and public AC charging use a thinner gauge cable and tops up batteries at regular speeds. Depending on the home wallbox used, this cable may also be affixed to the charging unit permanently but most wallboxes also accept the portable AC cable included in the vehicle. This cable can also be used on the AC side of public chargers such as those along the Powerway if the DC fast charging side is in use."

volkswagen,e-golf,electric car
Volkswagen e-Golf on charge

DC chargers (fast charging)

What's becoming an increasingly popular sight at your nearest shopping mall, are electric charging stations. Users can park their EVs next to these stations, activate the charging process, and complete their errands while the EV's battery is being recharged.

Fitted onto these stations, are a fixed charging cable called the DC charger. This is the fastest type of cable available and can recharge a battery from empty to 80% in about 30min - on average. There are different kinds of DC charger heads, but the strongest one, called the (ultra-rapid) CCS, is fitted with two heads and can handle power transfers of between 50 - 350kW. The standard (rapid) DC charger provides power at a modest 50kW, but it's still more powerful than the other cables on the market. There is also a Type 2 22kW AC charging cable.

The rapid DC and 22kW AC charging cables have a single port at their ends. The CCS is the only one with two heads.

READ: 'Despite its price, it deserved to win' - Debunking why the I-Pace is the 2020 SA Car of the Year 

JLR says: "In terms of connector types, there are a few different standardised versions across various manufacturers, but the Type 2 AC connector is by far the most common, and used in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles including the Jaguar I-Pace and other plug-in hybrid models.

"A CCS connector, or CCS Combo 2 to be specific, works in tandem with this and is virtually the same as a Type 2 connector, but with two extra-large pins incorporated to enable DC fast charging. This is why the charging ports in most fully electric vehicles with Type 2 compatibility include a removable rubber flap to expose the two large pins for acceptance of the bigger CCS connector."

electric vehicles,charging cable
CCS DC charger

AC Chargers (standard charging)

While not as efficient or as fast as the DC chargers, the AC chargers can handle power outputs of 7 - 22kW, used on a single- or three-phase charging station. Earlier chargers of this type are called Type 1, while the Type 2, like the unit mentioned among the DC chargers, is the more modern iteration.

The Type 2 fast chargers have a round bottom with a flat top, while the Type 1 and Commando AC have round heads. Regardless of the type of cable, the power transferred from the charging station to the EV will not exceed the maximum power that the EV's onboard charger can handle.

READ: The electric carpool - All the EVs in South Africa and how much they cost

electric vehicle,fast charger
A fast charger

'Slow chargers'

These cables are known for transferring power from the charging station to your EV the slowest, mainly because these are compatible with your household wall socket. Able to handle a power supply of between 2.3 - 6kW, the kilowatt rating of your power supply will determine how long an EV will take to charge, as well as the cost.

These kinds of cables are fitted with a three-pin 3kW AC plug, while at the opposite end you will find a head like that of the standard chargers.

READ: Cheaper than petrol - Here's how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle in SA

electric vehicle,fast charger
A slow charger

Charging cables cost

While each manufacturer has their own electric offering, JLR shared its recommended retail prices for replacement charging cables.

- Jaguar I-Pace Mode 2 (occasional use three-prong): R7106

- Jaguar I-Pace Mode 3 (home wallbox and public AC charging): R3806.51

- Range Rover PHEV Mode 2: R7475.51

- Range Rover PHEV Mode 3: R3806.51

These prices are ex-VAT and PHEV cable prices may vary depending on the specific vehicle model they are associated with.

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Jaguar I-Pace
2020 Jaguar I-Pace
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