In the first quarter of next year, SAE International plans to establish a standard, integrated coupler that would allow electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be charged from either a conventional, 15-amp alternating current (AC) wall outlet or a direct current (DC) connector of up to 90 kilowatts.

The SAE J1772 “Electric Vehicle and Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Conducive Charge Coupler” standard—agreed to in 2009 and officially published by SAE International in January 2010—is the world’s first industry-consensus standard to provide critical guidelines for safety, charging control and connectors used to charge. Automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota, have adopted SAE J1772.

Development of the SAE J1772 combination solution would help stabilize and unify the global market for manufacturers of electric vehicles. For the first time, the standard is planned to enable both AC and DC Level 1 and Level 2 charging all with a single vehicle inlet. Manufacturers would be able to leverage one coupler for all markets, regardless of the differences in electrical systems and charging locations from country to country. Integrating the different types of charging functionality would also greatly enhance the convenience of operating such a vehicle.

SAE J1772 goes further still, by uniquely defining communications between an EV/PHEV and off-board charger and the smart grid. Power line communications (PLC) is defined in SAE J1772 as the technology for enabling these vehicle-to-grid (V2G) communications, without requiring changes such as the addition of another pin to the coupler architecture.

SAE International also is working with the IEEE standards association to share its draft standards related to the smart grid to develop the first industry-wide guidelines for safety, charging control and connectors used to charge plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. In February 2011, the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to accelerate standards to improve market access and reduce costs. SAE International has developed 46 related standards and has others in progress. IEEE has more than 100 standards in effect or under development.