K, C, L, M and Hexagons. Welcome to the world of EU labels for EV charging!

14 Oct 2021

As the electric vehicle adoption rate in Europe is growing at an unprecedented speed, the need for further standardisation is increasing. In the first quarter of 2021 the EU introduced a harmonised set of labels for electric vehicles and charging stations. The labels aim to help EV-drivers identify the different types of charging systems.

With the introduction of the EU Electricity Label, it is the first time a standardized system has been adopted by all European Union countries. As of March 20th 2021 it has been made the norm! But what does it mean? And how does it relate to common charging standards like CCS, CHAdeMO and Type 2 charging? In this blog we explain this new standard.

The new, unified European standard

Let’s discuss the official part first. The new labelling system for charging electric vehicles came into force on March 20th 2021, made compulsory by Directive 2014/94/EU which addresses the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure. Labels must comply with the requirements set out in standard EN 17186:2019 and be applied both to vehicles and to the charging points.

As you can imagine, putting a set of stickers on all operational charging points can be quite a tough cookie if you manage over 26.000 charging points throughout Europe. That’s why we are happy that a transitional period has been granted to vehicle manufacturers and charge point operators. This period is set by national authorities and can differ per country.

Does this mean that we can expect a recall by all car manufactures for adding a sticker at the charging inlet? No worries, Elon Musk and Herbert Diess! According to the European legislation the new labels are only required for new vehicles brought to the market after March 20th 2021. Vehicle manufacturers are not obliged to fit the labels to older vehicles.

The new labels are being deployed in all 27 European Union member states and EFTA countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Norway). As well as in Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

Which vehicles are concerned?

In regards to road vehicles, the labels will appear on newly produced electrically rechargeable vehicles in the following categories:

  • Mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles;
  • Passenger cars;
  • Light commercial vehicles;
  • Heavy-duty commercial vehicles;
  • Buses and coaches.

Where can you find the labels?

When it comes to vehicles, the labels are located near each vehicle charging inlet and on each plug. As well as on the charging cables that are provided with the car. Information on the labels can also be found in the vehicle owner’s manual or in the electronic handbook.
Charge point operators have several possible locations to place the new labels. Depending on the charging station type.
The labels can be found on an EV charging station near:
  • Its socket-outlets;
  • The storage location of the fixed cable;
  • The connector of each cable.

If the charging station has multiple charging points, labels should be present on each charging point. The information on this label is based on connector type and the voltage range. Additional information may be included depending on national requirements and in the local language.

What do the labels look like?

You can recognize the label by its hexagonal shape. In this shape, electrical interfaces are identified by a capital letter. The letter in the hexagon shape is based on the charging technology (AC Type 2, CCS, CHAdeMO) and the voltage range of the charging station.

The ones you will probably see the most:

  • M - DC charging CHAdeMO
  • K - DC charging CCS
  • L - DC charging CCS (up to 920V, like ultra-fast charging stations)
  • C - AC charging Type 2
Finally, there are two colour variants. A black hexagon and a white hexagon. When will you see which variant? For the vehicle connector and vehicle inlet, a black hexagon with a white/ silver font and white outline will be applied. For example at charging stations with fixed cables, like our fast and ultra-fast stations.

For the plug and socket-outlet, a white hexagon with black font and black outline will be applied. For example at typical public AC charging stations.

A full overview with detailed description of the new labelling for EVs and charging infrastructure is available on this leaflet.