Competition in the Electric Vehicle Industry: Don't Let Safety Certification Hold You Back

February 07, 2012

Recently, intense investment in the electric vehicle market could potentially cause a back log for manufacturers trying to get their products, with the necessary safety certifications, to the global marketplace. Faced with accelerated marketing plans, it is helpful to know all your options for meeting safety Listing or "certification" requirements for the U.S. market. In future blog posts we will address access to markets outside of the United States but if you need information sooner, please contact us for an immediate answer to your global market questions, at icenter@intertek.com.

In the United States, Article 625 of the 2011 NFPA 70®: National Electrical Code®, better known as NEC 2011, establishes the criteria for the Listings required for electric vehicle supply equipment and components: charging stations, protection circuits, fittings, cords and connectors.

What Does this Mean? Look for the Listing Mark.

What are the safety certifications for "Listing" a manufacture of electric vehicle components?

  • Third party certification of compliance to applicable safety standards
  • Continuous conformance testing (follow up services)
  • Certification that is accepted by local AHJs ("Authority Having Jurisdiction"). The NEC tells the AHJ that one way of knowing a piece of equipment is okay, is to look for the listing mark of an approved lab. Learn more about the ETL Mark at www.intertek.com/ETL

In order to receive a listing mark charge station manufacturers must meet the appropriate standards, some of which can include:

  • UL2202
  • UL Subject 2594
  • UL2231-1 and Ul2231-2
  • UL1998

UL standards are developed under a procedure which includes "all interested parties" such as manufacturers, consumers, government officials, industrial and commercial users, inspection authorities and others. As the standard owner, manufacturers erroneously believe that the UL's Listing Mark is the only acceptable demonstration of product compliance. This is NOT the case. OSHA Safety Regulations require testing and certification of electronic products be completed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

UL is not the only NRTL!

A NRTL is a laboratory that is accredited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and then audited by OSHA for continued accreditation. (29 CFR 1910.7) This is the benchmark for excellence for product safety certification laboratories in the United States. In order to become accredited a NRTL must be qualified both to test products and to certify products. Certification includes periodic factory audits to assure that manufacturers continue to produce products in accordance with the standard and initial Listing report.

Keep up with the industry

Currently there is a great deal of competition to develop electric vehicle technologies which will address environmental concerns, growing urbanization and changing consumer behavior. Manufacturers are working to research, develop and deliver differentiating technologies ahead of the competition. According to a recently released, KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey 2012, fuel efficiency remains the single biggest factor in purchasing decisions.

At the same time standards committees are working to keep up with automotive industry needs. At, The Second Annual Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit held September 27-28 in Detroit, Michigan and co-hosted by the National Fire Protection Research Foundation (NFPA) and SAE, key stakeholders from the electric vehicle industry gathered to address and define potential barriers to market entry related to fire and electrical safety standards. The meeting brought together a diverse group of individuals including design engineers, battery manufacturer, first responders, charging station manufactures and many more. In response to the recent explosion in electric vehicles available to consumers the NEC has a renewed focus on Article 26. You should be able to count on your testing partner to know and understand the latest requirements, so that you can focus on your core business.

Get to Market!

Don't be held up by your supplier, learn about your options to get your product to market efficiently and with the required safety certifications for global market access.

We want to hear from you. What important transportation technology will be delivered in 2012 to help reduce emissions? Or to meet consumers demands?