While the thought of building a worldwide infrastructure of charging stations for electric vehicles may seem daunting, you know what would make it even more challenging? If each station had to separately cater to each make of EV on the road - think of how many different styles of mobile phone chargers are currently out there, for instance, and then picture that applying to cars. Fortunately a consortium of automakers has developed the Combined Charging System that will allow any one vehicle to charge its batteries using a variety of different charging methods.

The system was developed by Germany's Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen, working in partnership with America's Ford and General Motors.

It consists of a single interface on the vehicle, which is compatible with methods such as one-phase AC-charging, fast three-phase AC-charging, DC-charging at home and ultra-fast DC-charging at public stations. This is intended to make EV development a less complex process, as vehicles won't need to incorporate multiple inlets, nor will their drivers need to seek out specific charging stations. Instead, all electric vehicles will be able to recharge at all stations.

Charging times for most electrified vehicles with compatible systems is expected to be as little as 15-20 minutes.

The technology also features a charging communication system, along with an electrical and safety architecture, that will work with any vehicle using the system.

The Combined Charging System is being demonstrated at the 15th International VDI-Congress and Exhibition "Electronic Systems for Motor Vehicles," which takes place this Wednesday and Thursday in Baden-Baden.

The Combined Charging System is expected to be ready for deployment in the auto industry in late 2012 and vehicles using the technology will start appearing in 2013.