Electric car's dilemma: The plug

electric car plugs, charging stationsThe industry strives to make the electric car owning experience as consumer friendly as possible by standardizing the plugs these vehicles will require. By Steve Hargreaves, senior writer

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (CNNMoney) -- Charging electric cars will be a vital part of the consumer experience, and the auto industry knows making the experience as easy as possible is crucial to the cars' success.

In a bid to avoid the eight million different types of chargers available for mobile phones -- and the resulting frustration among consumers -- the industry is working hard to standardize plugs for new electric vehicles.

There are currently about seven different types of plugs and sockets worldwide for car charging, according to Tom Baloga, an executive at BMW -- much better, he said, than the 20 or so there could have been.

"There has been a great collaboration among the industry to standardize as much as possible," Baloga said during a roundtable discussion Tuesday at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference.

The industry is also working on ways to make electric cars more friendly for city dwellers, who don't often have the luxury of a garage and nearby electric outlet to plug in a vehicle.

Among the devices in the works are portable charging pedestals that could be anchored in parking lots or even on side streets.

The panel, which included executives from BMW, General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) and CODA, among others, debated the merits of charging company Better Place's system.

Under Better Place's model, consumers don't buy the actual battery. Instead, they use service stations where the battery is swapped out in a matter on minutes, eliminating the charging process for the consumer all together.

The panelists thought the concept will take off in certain places, notably Israel where the company's founder is from, and among some fleet vehicles like taxis.

But they also felt building the infrastructure is expensive, and fast charging batteries could endanger its business model.  To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.