Expensive aftermarket electric vehicle (EV) charging cables can pose a major safety risk to drivers, a new investigation has found.
In a number of tests, the probe found there is a risk of overheating and electric shocks for users.
While all EVs sold in showrooms today come with a charging cable, that might not be the case for someone buying a second hand model.
And often electric car drivers like to have a spare or a second cable to leave at their workplace or a family member’s home so they don’t have to transport their own in the boot.
But What Car? has urged EV drivers to purchase with care, having found that three devices it bought online all failed to meet British and European safety standards.
Shocking truth about aftermarket EV charging cables: An investigation has exposed that some charging products bought online fail to meet British and EU safety standards and could overheat and cause electric shocks
The automotive consumer title bought three ‘Mode 2’ chargers – the type that allows EV owners to charge their vehicle using a three-pin domestic socket – from two online marketplaces.
The EVCARS Mode 2 EV Charger cost £169 and the Oasser Mode 2 Electric Vehicle Charger was £130, both bought from Amazon.
The third purchased from componentauthority.com was a Portable EV Charger priced at £108.
Each lead was tested in an electrical laboratory and assessed for conformity with existing UK and EU safety standards, including five different Residual Current Device (RCD) tests.
Two cables failed all five RCD tests, and one cable passed only one of the assessments.
The RCD’s job is to switch off the electricity automatically if a fault is detected. If the system doesn’t react quickly enough or appropriately, there is a serious risk of electric shock to anyone using it.
The lab also tested each cable’s plug to ensure it fitted properly into a socket.
If the connection isn’t good enough, there is a serious risk of it overheating, especially if the cable is left plugged in for many hours.
None of the three plugs fitted into the socket securely, What Car? investigation found.
The three EV charging cables tested by What Car?. The first two were purchased from Amazon for £169 and £130. The third was bought from componentauthority.com priced at £108
The findings raised serious concerns around regulations for the sale of these aftermarket charging parts
On top of all this, it was noted that all three cables were designed to run at more than 13 amps, whereas the plugs were only rated up to 13 amps.
While this additional current is unlikely to blow a fuse, it will generate extra heat and, over prolonged periods, could make the plug get hot enough to burn someone.
Further visual tests were conducted on each cable to assess both the safety labelling and resistance to tampering.
And while all three cables did include data panels on their control units to inform users, the information was poorly worded and did not clearly state the safety regulations that each device should adhere to.
All also had unclear labelling relating to their level of water resistance. As these units are likely to be used outside, water resistance is an essential safety feature.
The findings raised serious concerns around regulations for the sale of these aftermarket parts.
Online third-party sites are not legally obliged to check the safety of the products they sell in the same way as high street retailers, so it can be easy for sellers to offer sub-standard products via them.
Having been contacted by What Car? regarding the devices, Amazon said it had removed the charging cables from sale while it undertook its own investigations into their safety.
Online retailer componentauthority.com did not offer to do the same.
Commenting on the shocking investigation findings, What Car? consumer editor, Claire Evans, said: ‘Our tests show how easy it is to buy unsafe EV charging cables online.
‘Our investigation highlights the importance of choosing electrical products with care and we recommend buying from reputable high street or online retailers.
‘We believe stricter regulations for third-party sellers are needed.
‘They should check that products meet the relevant standards up front, rather than retrospectively, following a complaint or investigation.’