Chinese electric cars are increasingly found on Europe's and, particularly, Ukraine's roads. Both local Chinese brands (e.g. ORA IQ чи BAIC EU5) and models of Western brands produced specially for the Chinese market (Volkswagen ID.4) are actively imported into our country.  Such popularity is easy to explain: these EVs are cheaper and the choice is big. However, there are also disadvantages. Among them are charging connectors.

On December 28, 2015, in Beijing, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ), together with the National Energy Administration, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Science and Technology, issued five new national EV charging standards and communication protocols.

The new standards entered into force on January 1, 2016. They are called GB / T. GB stands for Guobiao – "national standard" and T – tuījiàn – means "recommended". This is what creates a problem with the circulation of the Chinese electric cars. GB/T connectors are visually similar to the European ones, but they are not the same both technologically and electronically.

Chinese GB/T connectors: for fast charging on the left, for slow charging on the right

Most charging stations in Ukraine and other European countries have Type 1/Type 2 connectors for AC and DC charging. Chinese EVs are also charged with AC and DC power, but GB/T connectors can be connected to Type 1/Type 2 only through an adapter. If the Type 2 slow charging connectors pose no problem at all (such cables are cheap and sold everywhere for $150-350), the fast chargers are quite an issue.

Recall that fast charging connectors can charge the EV battery with a direct current (DC) with a capacity of 50 kW and more. The DC charging is possible with CCS Combo (Type 1 or Type 2) and CHAdeMO connectors. Such power can charge the battery of an average Chinese EV in about two hours. However, the problem is that the CCS Combo-GB/T adapter is a very rare find. In addition, CHAdeMO-GB/T cable costs $ 1,500 - 2,000 and is not very widespread as well. It should be noted that the CHAdeMO 1.2 protocol allows up to 200 kW, but the majority of charging stations are limited to only 50 kW. Therefore, you will not be able to charge with more power even if you have an adapter. 

Besides, the adapter does not always guarantee connectivity of the charger, since the EV may either not support the specific adapter, or the adapter itself may be incompatible with the charging station. 

CHAdeMO-GB/T adapter

CCS 2-GB/T adapter

Changing the connectors in the EV itself may be another option. Some Chinese EVs have already been upgraded this way.  However, this is also expensive. Prices for such upgrades start from $1,500. The specialists, who will take on such a task, are not easy to find. On top of that, do not forget that introducing any changes to the design of an EV leads to potential problems, primarily with safety. 

To put it all together, we would like to highlight the following: owners of the Chinese EVs mostly must make do with slow chargers. There are two ways:

  1. The use of the charger that is bundled with the EV. The electric car is connected to a 220V AC outlet, receives a current of up to 16A and charges a battery with a capacity of up to 3 kW/h (in fact, this figure is lower). In this case,  the average 50 kWh EV battery is refilled in 14-18 hours.
  2. The use of 220/380 v AC power supply. The current will reach up to 32A, and the charging power (in case of a three-phase connection) will be up to 22 kWh. But there are limitations as well. Chinese electric EV, with rare exceptions, are not designed for three-phase connection. Thus, the car will be charged with single-phase power of up to 7 kW. In fact, the actual power is even lower.

Additionally, it should be taken into consideration that cheap Chinese EVs usually have very low-quality components and connectors. Therefore, when choosing such a car, you should be ready for problems with components. Ukrainian repair technicians also lack knowledge and practice in maintaining and failure detections in such EVs, since this segment is relatively new and there is no highly specialized service in our market. 

So, keep these points in mind when buying a Chinese electric car. Notably, in the case of Chinese EVs, a careful choice of a dealer is a must: the company should be trustworthy and able to ensure quality delivery and warranty support. We have partners that provide such services, and we will be happy to share the contacts of reliable companies. This is, in particular, UBT AUTO, with whom running a special offer: when purchasing an EV, you will receive up to 5,000 kilometers of free charging via the GO TO-U app, as well as a discount on a certified home station.

Nov 30, 2022
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