To cope with the proliferation of billing options, the European Union has introduced a series of standardized labels from March 2021. You can identify these labels by a white or black hexagon with a letter inside. These labels are also used in the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. That way you can immediately identify which payment system is in front of you. This applies to the charging station and the vehicle you want to charge. But what do those letters really mean?
Where can I find electric car charging labels?
Electric vehicles built after March 20, 2021 in Europe must have a label, usually on the tailgate. Just like the fuel gauge of a car with a combustion engine tells you what fuel you can fill. In addition, labels are also present on the charging plug or charging station. So it’s a matter of – literally – connecting the letters!
What do the labels on the charging station mean?
That’s all well and good, but what exactly are those literate hexagons trying to say? Well, information that should not keep you very alert as a user. Because it is very likely that you will quickly see if the charging plug fits your car or not. However, for the record, we’re listing the main tags you’ll come across below.
In early 2014, the European Commission decided to promote the so-called plug 2 standard in our region. It is used for charging with alternating current (AC). You can identify a type 2 plug by the letter C in a black or white hexagon. On the side of the car you will see the letters in a black hexagon, on the side of the payment center in a white hexagon. The letter K, on the other hand, appears as the European standard for DC fast charging based on the Combined Charging System (CCS). With the rise of vehicles that can easily charge more than 200 kW per hour, an L-labeled charging cable was created. It can charge at a maximum of 920V instead of the maximum of 500 volts. Not necessary: Your car does not have to have a charging speed exceeding 200 kW to use the L-labeled charging system.
After all, the letter M indicates the CHAdeMO payment system. This was one of the first standardized systems at the time and originated in Japan. The system has almost been phased out in Europe, you’ll only encounter it on a select group of older EVs and – oddly enough – the second generation Nissan Leaf. Don’t worry about swapping the CHAdeMo plug with the CCS plug when charging. Both systems are not interchangeable. In other words: a CHAdeMo plug will not fit in a car with CCS connection and vice versa.