Automakers agree on 'single-port' charging system for electric cars

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Doing so will "allow customers to charge at most existing charging stations regardless of power source and may speed more affordable adoption of a standardized infrastructure," the automakers said.

The standardized charging system, which the companies said was chosen by the International Society of Automotive Engineers, will be available for use on electric cars in the United States and Europe. The automakers said the chargers will be available for purchase by the end of 2012 and compatible with their 2013 models.

Several automakers are developing electric vehicles, but one, the Chevrolet Volt, has emerged as a political issue. Democrats have touted the Volt as evidence of the turnaround of the U.S. auto industry after the federal government gave bailouts to General Motors and Chrysler in 2008 and 2009. Republicans have countered by sharply criticizing reports of a Volt's battery catching on fire during testing, and have suggested that its sluggish sales numbers proved the cars were not popular.

The car companies did not mention the political debate in Washington about electric cars in their announcement Thursday, but they said the standardized charging station's design was "based on the collaborative review and analysis of existing charging strategies, the ergonomics of the connector and preferences of U.S. and European customers.

"The Combined Charging System was developed for all international vehicle markets and creates a uniform standard with identical electrical systems, charge controllers, package dimensions and safety mechanisms," the companies said.

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