There have been many different types of electric vehicle (EV) plugs over the years. In fact, variations of the EV plug have existed since the 1800s when the first EV was made. With each generation of the EV, a new plug is released to align with the advancing technology. As batteries improve with more range and faster charging capabilities, the plug needs to be updated to keep up.
Today, there are four different plugs – J1772, CCS, Tesla, and CHAdeMO. Each one charges at a different power level, is a unique shape, and is compatible with specific car models. As EVs become more widely adopted and charging infrastructure is built out, the industry will move to standardize plugs so that every charging station can be used by any EV driver. This will likely be done through adaptors and updates to older stations.
The J1772 plug is the universal standard for Level 1 (120V) and Level 2 (208/240V) charging. The vast majority of EVs have a J1772 port. As a result, it is by far the most popular plug in the United States. Per the Alternative Fuels Data Center, 70% of plugs at public charging stations are J1772. Even Tesla, which has their own proprietary plug, offers an adapter for the J1772 plug to use with their vehicles.
As the standard Level 1 and Level 2 charging plug, drivers can expect to replenish around 25 miles of range per hour of charging. Furthermore, the J1772 plug is found at many different types of charging station locations, such as single-family, multifamily, workplace, commercial/retail, and public parking lots.
All SemaConnect’s charging stations are outfitted with the universal standard J1772 plug across our entire product lineup including the latest Series 8 Retail EV Charging Station.
The Combined Charging System (CCS) is another popular EV plug on the market today. Unlike the J1772 plug, the CCS plug is for Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations only. DCFC stations can recharge an EV from 10% to 80% in just 30 minutes. In terms of power, the CCS plug can charge up to 350 kW. That is a lot of power!
Unlike the J1772 plug, however, there are a few EVs that are not capable of using this plug. Most notably, all Tesla vehicles and the Nissan Leaf do not contain a CCS port.
When the latest generation of EVs hit the market in the late 2000s, the CCS plug was not a popular choice with automakers. Over the recent years, more and more automakers have switched to the CCS plug as their standard DCFC plug, with the exception of Tesla.
Today, the CCS is so popular that it is included in all new DCFC stations, especially ones that included any type of public funding. As of the end of 2021, there are over 9,300 CCS plugs across the country with thousands more planned for the next decade.
DCFC networks, such as Electrify America, EVgo, and the upcoming federal charging network, will all include CCS plugs at charging stations. This means that the number of CCS plugs will rapidly grow as more and more chargers are being installed.
Since Tesla was one of the first modern electric car automakers in the late 2000s, they had to create their own plug as there was no standard accepted by the automotive industry at the time. The Tesla plug is the only type of EV charging plug that is compatible for Level 1, Level 2, and DCFC. Like the CCS plug, the Tesla plug can charge up to 250 kW.
Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, the Tesla plug is exclusive to only Tesla vehicles. All of Tesla’s Destination Chargers or Superchargers are currently only available to Tesla vehicles. No other EVs can charge there; however, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, hinted at opening up their charging network to all other EVs in the near future.
At the end of 2021, there are nearly 27,000 Tesla plugs throughout the US. As you can see, there are a lot more Tesla plugs than there are CCS plugs. Should there be interoperability for EVs to use either the Tesla or CCS plug, the number of available DCFC stations will grow exponentially.
Soon to be known as a legacy plug, the CHAdeMO plug is being used less and less. While there are over 7,000 CHAdeMO plugs today, there is currently only one vehicle in production that uses this plug – the Nissan Leaf. When the Leaf was first released in 2010, it quickly became the near-standard DCFC plug. The CHAdeMO is technically capable of charging at speeds of over 100 kW, however, there are either no CHAdeMO-equipped DCFC stations or vehicles capable of charging at that level of power.
Automakers have slowly shifted away from the CHAdeMO plug and gravitated towards the CCS plug. Even Nissan themselves have seemed to move past the CHAdeMO plug as their newest EV, the Ariya, is set to be released in 2022 with a CCS port.
Furthermore, as reported by InsideEVs, the nation-wide charging network, Electrify America, recently announced that it will no longer install DCFC stations with both CCS and CHAdeMO plugs. Instead, they will only install chargers with the CCS plug. This is likely the final blow to CHAdeMO, which leads the way to making CCS the universal standard for DCFC stations.
Bonus: The Magne-Charger
Bonus round! The last generation of EVs existed in the 1990s, but were, unfortunately, short lived. These EVs, such as the General Motors EV1 or the Toyota RAV4 EV, had a charging port that wasn’t a J1772, CCS, Tesla, or even the CHAdeMO. Instead, these extinct EVs used the Magne-Charger, sometimes called the “paddle plug” since it was shaped like one.
The Magne-Charger became obsolete once the last generation of EVs ceased production by the turn of the century. Many of these old chargers were either decommissioned or replaced with the J1772 plug as a result.