Launched on the initiative of American and European manufacturers, the Combined Charging System (CCS), or Combo socket, has become the European standard for fast direct current charging of electric vehicles.
A little history
The idea of a “Combined Charging System” arose in 2011 at a congress of the German Association of Engineers. The CCS is based on the principle of a single footprint combining both a Type 1 or Type 2 connector, and two complementary contacts dedicated to fast DC charging.
The concept, which is opposed to the Japanese CHAdeMO standard, was very quickly adopted by 7 manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen, who committed to integrating the connector into their future vehicles. Volkswagen brought to market the first vehicle compatible with the Combo, the E-Up, followed by BMW with the i3.
In addition to winning over manufacturers, supporters of the Combo standard have also led a European battle to impose their standard against the Japanese rival CHAdeMO. In 2014, Europe decided in favor of the Combo which it defined as THE European standard for recharging electric vehicles with direct current. In this case, any new DC terminal deployed in Europe must now integrate at least the Combo standard.
In France, however, a decree requires operators to use the tri-standard for fast charging until the end of 2024. Apart from the Combo, Type 2 and CHAdeMO connectors are therefore mandatory until December 31, 2024.
For the sake of simplification of the connection and backward compatibility, the Combo connector does not include any additional communication contact compared to its predecessors (Type 1 and Type 2). It is therefore impossible to communicate via the CAN bus as proposed by the competing standard CHAdeMO. Since direct current charging requires high-level communication between the vehicle and the charging station, it is a power line transmission solution (CPL) through the same contact used for alternating current charging that is used.
These technical choices allow vehicles equipped with a CCS connector to charge either on an alternating or direct current terminal with one and the same base.
There are 2 versions of this standard:
CCS 1.0: 80 kW max (400 Volts – 200 Amps) CCS 2.0: 350 kW max (200 to 1000 Volts – 500 Amps) – Implementation of the “Plug and Charge” protocol allowing the vehicle to be identified by the terminal to pay for recharging .
The CCS connector is always in the form of a cable attached to the terminal. In France, the combo connector is systematically deployed on direct current charging solutions. Among the best-known networks equipped with the standard, we can mention Corri-Door and Ionity.
For vehicles not fitted with the standard, Tesla is the only manufacturer to offer a Combo adapter for its Model S and Model X. There are also conversion units allowing a CCS vehicle to be connected to an AC terminal. But they are very expensive and bulky.
Photo credit: Electrek.
Which vehicles are equipped with the Combo standard?
Today, almost all of the new models launched on the European market integrate the Combo connector when they offer direct current charging. At Tesla, it has even become the standard on Model 3s sold in Europe.
The rare exceptions apply to Japanese manufacturers, some of which continue to integrate the competing standard CHAdeMO. This is notably the case of Mitusbishi with the Outlander PHEV, of Lexus with the electric version of the UX, but also of Nissan, which, in the early days of the Leaf, financed many CHAdeMO stations deployed in Europe. The Japanese brand, which still offers CHAdeMO on its Leaf and its e-NV200, is however in the process of changing its strategy. Expected in 2021, the Nissan Ariya will integrate the Combo connector as standard.