Dealing With Realities of an Electric-Car Fleet

From standardizing the type of plug to reducing the charging time of an electric car, auto engineers face many challenges.

Published: 24-Jan-2009

WHAT shape will the plug for recharging your future electric vehicle take?

That question is becoming a pressing matter for automakers. The global auto industry has yet to agree on a standardized shape for the connectors that will replenish the batteries of electric cars, though the Society of Automotive Engineers has been working on standards for such a plug for more than two years.

Issues of this sort must be resolved before many of the electric powertrains displayed at the Detroit auto show this month will be able to take to the road in large numbers. While the breadth and diversity of electric car proposals seen in Detroit seemed to affirm their inevitability — despite obstacles like $2-a-gallon gas at nearby pumps and a grim car market over all — the efforts at electrification of the vehicle fleet, to use the buzz phrase of the moment, also raised awareness of the challenges that automakers will face.

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