Tony O'Kane | Apr 23, 2009

Agreeing on an industry-wide standard can often be a long and drawn-out affair. We've seen it before with VHS vs Betamax, CD vs Minidisc and more recently with HD DVD and Blu-Ray.

Thankfully, the majority of the world's biggest automakers have instead decided to bypass the squabbling and agree on a standardised type of charging plug for the next generation of electric and hybrid vehicles, the details of which were announced at the Hanover Technology Fair this week.

The plug will be a three-pronged 400-volt unit which, considering most wall outlets only crank out 240 volts, suggests it will be designed to be used in conjuction with some kind of charging station.

The rationale behind the charging plug uniformity is that while many regions use different wall outlet configurations, drivers should be able to charge up their plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle anywhere on earth using the same hardware in the same manner.

After all, petrol bowsers look much the same no matter what country you're in, so it makes sense to apply the same logic to charging hardware.

In introduction date for the plug has yet to be announced, but with BMW, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen all agreeing to the format, it shouldn't be long before we see a production car employing the new plug.

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