For the vast majority of EV owners in the UK and Europe, there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll be provided with a ‘Type-2’ or ‘Mennekes’ charging cable, even Tesla now use Type-2 and almost every home chargepoint is Type-2 compatible so you just plug one end into your car and the other into the charger.
There are some oddities to be aware of. Early EVs used different plugs before the manufacturers mostly adopted the Type-2 standard almost ten years ago. Japan and China have their own favourite plugs, but unless you have bought an import you shouldn’t have a problem. In any case there are adapters available.
Just to complicate things slightly there are two different Type-2 plugs, one for home charging – or any chargepoint hooked up to an AC electrical supply – and one for rapid charging, usually referred to as a CCS charger. See the illustration right. It is simply a Type-2 charger with an extra couple of contacts to facilitate rapid DC charging.
Where you might find a public charger with a CHAdeMO plug you may also find a suitable adapter or choose to carry your own. Chargepoints with CHAdeMO connectors are normally the rapid DC chargers found at motorway service stations.
That’s all a long-winded way of saying “You probably have nothing to worry about!” so just use the cable that came with your car or use the cable and plug provided by the public chargepoint you pull up to.
If you want to get technical there are different types of cable (the electrical cable which connects the plug to the socket) but, unless you really want to know the specifics you shouldn’t even bother looking into it.
In essence it is the same as any other cable used in your home, a higher power rating and/or thicker cable will be required for higher powered output chargers. For 99% of EV owners, just use the cable you’re given by the vehicle manufacturer or chargepoint manufacturer.