Well, the Combined Charging Standard has finally arrived.
The first public electric-car charging station to offer quick-charging using the CCS plug--also known as "SAE Combo"--opened at the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego on Monday.
Developed by a coalition of U.S. and German car makers, CCS uses a single plug that combines a "J-1772" plug for 240-Volt Level 2 charging with pins for direct-current fast charging (hence the name).
Proponents of the standard say the combination simplifies the design of electric cars by using a single charge port and the same basic communications protocols for both Level 2 and DC fast charging.
The charging station installed at the Fashion Valley Mall is an eVgo Freedom Station. The station also offers Level 2 charging as well, plus a second quick-charging cable that uses the competing CHAdeMo DC fast-charging standard found on Nissan Leaf electric cars.
CCS is billed as an industry-wide standard for electric-car charging, but the cars that use it are just now starting to appear.
The list of automakers set to adopt CCS over time includes General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, BMW, and the Volkswagen Group--but only two cars with CCS capability are slated to enter showrooms in the near term.
GM will offer CCS as an option on the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, with first deliveries of CCS-equipped electric Sparks coming in late December.
Then BMW will offer CCS on the 2014 BMW i3, which won't go on sale in the United States until the second quarter of 2014.
The Nissan Leaf, which currently represents the majority of all-electric cars on the road, uses the CHAdeMo fast charging standard (as does the very low-volume Mitsubishi i-MiEV). The Chevrolet Volt does not offer fast charging.
Tesla Motors has its own fast charging system, called Supercharger, and is now rolling out a network of stations around the country that can be used solely by owners of the Tesla Model S luxury electric sedan.