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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Emission-free Utility and Special-purpose Vehicles Julia Krüger

Make the change now with universal vehicle charging inlets

(Source: Naypong Studio/Shutterstock.com)

The mobility transformation that is taking place in vehicle fleets presents numerous challenges for decision-makers in the utility vehicle, passenger transport, and transportation industry. With requirements in the form of environmental zones and the need to balance CO2 emissions, making the change from combustion engines to battery-electric drive systems is inevitable. This is where the universal vehicle charging inlets from Phoenix Contact can help (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Mobility transformation is taking place in the utility and special-purpose vehicle industry: Phoenix Contact offers its CCS vehicle charging inlets for those making the change to emission-free drive systems. (Source: Kzenon@Shutterstock.com/Phoenix Contact)

Even though motorized private transport represents a large proportion of road traffic, the wide range of different utility and special-purpose vehicles must not be overlooked when it comes to electrification.

Becoming Emission-Free

The still-growing stock of conventional vehicles with combustion engines increasingly attracts public interest and general criticism in view of mounting environmental and climate issues. Electrification will therefore increase in the coming years and decades—in local public transport, global transportation of goods, the use of urban and municipal service vehicles, agriculture, mining, and many other areas. In light of ambitious global-policy objectives based on the Paris Climate Agreement, whereupon all transport is to gradually become emission-free, and in view of the EU's Green Deal, some countries are already setting strict limits for the aforementioned areas of application of utility and special-purpose vehicles. Inevitably, the share of conventional internal combustion engines in the vehicle market’s total volume must be reduced significantly. As a result, manufacturers of utility and special-purpose vehicles, whether large or small series, will be converting or redesigning their vehicles accordingly.

Charging Infrastructure and Charging Standards

Owners and operators who want to use an emission-free electric utility or special-purpose vehicles in their fleet face a challenge: they need to adapt their infrastructure and install charging stations at their depots. This is relatively simple in commercial environments. The advantages compared to private installations are obvious. More space is available for installing the charging infrastructure, a direct grid connection makes it easier to extend the grid connection for higher power transmission, and it is often possible to integrate the connection to your energy supply—such as an existing photovoltaic system or wind turbine generator—into the installation.

Various standards have been established for charging cars. Charging with direct current (DC) makes it possible to transmit high levels of power in a short period of time. In addition, the contacts and cable cross sections are larger than those of conventional alternating current (AC) connection systems. A charging power of up to 250kW can therefore be transmitted with uncooled DC charging. For this reason, DC charging is generally referred to as fast charging. In combination with integrated cooling, a charging power of up to 500kW can be achieved in compliance with the relevant standards. This is then referred to as ultra-fast charging or High Power Charging (HPC).

For DC charging, leading automobile manufacturers recommend the Combined Charging System, CCS for short. This system enables both AC and DC charging using a single vehicle charging inlet—also referred to as a charging socket—and is used in North America (type 1) and Europe (type 2). The charging standards are used in the relevant markets both by the automotive industry and by providers of charging infrastructure. The established CCS standards are also state-of-the-art in technical and practical terms for the fast charging of utility and special-purpose vehicles.

Fast Charging of Utility and Special-Purpose Vehicles

With its new CCS vehicle charging inlets, Phoenix Contact now offers high-performance components that have been tested in accordance with automotive standards in the field of charging technology. These components are available to manufacturers and companies specializing in the conversion of utility and special-purpose vehicles, and of electric or hybrid cars, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles. DC fast charging right through to High Power Charging is now also possible on the vehicle side (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Global approach: CCS vehicle charging inlets serve the North American market and parts of the Asian market with the CCS type 1 standard, while the CCS type 2 standard covers the European market–the standards are also recognized in other parts of the world. (Source: Phoenix Contact)

Until recently, the Combined Charging System only supported charging currents of up to 200A on the vehicle side. The global electromobility market—from drivers of electric vehicles through manufacturers and operators of charging infrastructure to the automotive industry—requires considerably higher charging currents and charging power ratings. All market players would like acceptable charging times of a few minutes for practical driving ranges. Charging times only become acceptable to the end user when they are comparable to the time usually spent at the fuel pump.

Wherever special-purpose or utility vehicles are used commercially, the downtime must also be reduced to a minimum, as efficient and economical use can only be achieved through optimum utilization of the vehicles. The new CCS charging inlets from Phoenix Contact enable charging with higher charging currents right through to High Power Charging, thus satisfying the demands of the market (Figure 3).

CHARX Connectors

Figure 3: Phoenix Contact CCS Charging Inlets support higher charging currents right through to High Power Charging. (Source: Phoenix Contact) 

Clever Vehicle Charging Inlet Design

The DC cable cross section of up to 95mm² allows temporary charging currents of up to 500A. The clever connection technology between the power contacts and high-voltage (HV) cables minimizes the heating of the connection system. The integrated temperature sensor technology evaluates the temperature at the DC power contacts quickly and precisely. The temperature measured there serves as the basis for the dynamic regulation of the charging current required by the vehicle.

The HPC charging infrastructure is designed for continuous operation, which is why it is actively cooled. Whereas the charging interface of a vehicle cools down over several hours while the vehicle is being used, so it is already cool before the next charging process is started. This means no active cooling of the power contacts and HV cables on the vehicle side. Instead, dynamic charging profiles are used to charge the vehicle batteries. The charging process usually begins with a high charging current and then gradually reduced. The high charging power means that vehicle batteries can be almost fully recharged in a matter of minutes.

Due to the clever seal concept, all the internal live parts of the charging sockets receive comprehensive IP67 protection. The charging sockets also have IP6K6K/IP6K9K degree of protection on the front—thus effectively preventing water ingress via the mating face.

The external dimensions and screw-connection geometries of the vehicle charging inlets make them extremely compact, and the designs for the CCS type 1 standard and CCS type 2 standard are identical in this respect. This means that manufacturers and conversion specialists can plan the same installation space for charging sockets in their vehicles for worldwide use (Figure 4). The new CCS charging inlets from Phoenix Contact are supplied pre-assembled, allowing them to be directly integrated into the vehicle's HV power supply. In addition to the vehicle charging inlet with integrated temperature sensor technology, the scope of supply also includes the locking actuator, the connected HV and LV cables, and the dust protection caps to cover the mating face.

Figure 4: Same installation space for installing the charging sockets: the external dimensions and screw-connection geometries of the CCS type 1 and CCS type 2 vehicle charging inlets are identical. (Source: Phoenix Contact)


Phoenix Contact’s CCS charging inlets for electric or hybrid vehicles provide the following advantages:

  • Continuous and precise monitoring of the exact contact temperature with integrated temperature sensor technology at every power contact
  • Fast charging with temporary charging currents up to 500A
  • Configurable for various applications due to the wide variety of cable cross sections and locking actuators
  • CCS type 1 and CCS type 2 charging inlets: identical installation space, screw-connection point, and outer contour dimensions
  • Safe because of the clever sealing system
  • Developed and produced in accordance with the IATF 16949 automotive standard and ISO 9001

The universal vehicle charging inlets from Phoenix Contact provide a high-performance charging interface that has been tested in accordance with automotive standards, meeting the needs of manufacturers and companies specializing in the conversion of battery electric or hybrid cars, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles as well as utility and special-purpose vehicles in all areas of application. These vehicle types can now also benefit from fast charging, which can be performed safely and reliably thanks to numerous functions.

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Julia Krüger is an Experienced Marketing Communications Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the industrial automation industry. Skilled in Event Management, Marketing, Team Organisation, Event Planning, and Social Media Marketing. Strong marketing professional with a Bachelor of Arts - BA focused in International Business from Paderborn University, Germany.

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