It’s hard to talk about electric vehicles and not mention Tesla. They were arguably the first major player in the EV industry and continue to lead in vehicle sales, especially with the release of the Model 3. And one of the biggest advantages of owning a Tesla is gaining access to the Super Charging network. Not only are there vastly more charging spots around North America compared to other networks, but they have one key advantages: plug and charge.
What is ‘plug&charge’?
Plug and charge, as the name suggests, is the ability to plug in your EV and charge without having to touch an app or use an RFID card. The Tesla Super Charging network has had this functionality since it’s inception due to the proprietary nature of the network, but efforts are now being made to deploy this to future and current non-Tesla electric vehicles to make it even easier to charge your car on other DC-Fast charging networks.
Plug&Charge (ISO 15118)
Plug and charge is coming, with Greenlots and Hubject leading the ‘charge’ with a recent collaborative announcement to offer these capabilities on the Greenlots charging network. Plug and charge is incorporated into the CCS (Combined Charging System) standard under ISO 15118, which will allow non-Tesla EVs to plug in and start charging on generic charging stations, all without the use of an app or RFID tag.
There is a catch to this, however, and that is “the only current model that is ISO 15118 Plug&Charge compatible is the Mercedes Smart EQ fortwo” but “the Audi e-Tron will be Plug&Charge compatible this year as well as the Porsche Tycan,” says Hubject’s Director of Corporate and Business Development, Barton Sidles.
Greenlots acknowledged that making a great and simple charging event was key to lowering the barriers to EV adoption
Barton Sidles, Hubject
Aside from making the charging experience more user friendly for drivers, the back-end system is robust and very secure.
“No personal information is transferred between the EV and the EVSE and no payment details, credit cards or personally identifiable information is transmitted” says Sidles. Plug & Charge’s ISO standard uses public key infrastructure (PKI) as the basis for secure authentication. “The ID from the car (Provisioning Certificate) and the Driver ID (a code called EMAID eMobility Account Identification) are encrypted and can only be read via private and public keys that have cryptography key exchange. Basically, all personal information of the EV driver remains with the EV driver’s eMobility service provider (Mobility Operator), not within the ISO 15118 Plug&Charge ecosystem or PKI” explains Sidles.
There is also a layer of redundancy added to prevent authentication issues in the event of a network outage. “There are redundancies in place depending on the Charge Port Operator. We work to ensure that the Charge Port Operator is able to provide a successful charging event in the event some link in the communication chain not working” says Sidles, and is welcome news.
And what if you sell your EV and want to remove your vehicle? Sidles explains that “the vehicle is not the central account,“ which means that each charging network your vehicle is registered to must be removed, but at least you will have the option to remove it at any time.
While Plug&Charge and ISO 15118 will be a boon in the future, there are efforts to bring the ability to plug and charge to all current EVs in the market with a standard called Autocharge, made in part by Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), a standard developed by the Open Charge Alliance.
Autocharge uses information built into all CCS capable vehicles using a unique address assigned to the vehicle called a Media Access Control (MAC) address, as well as a standards-backed charging station using OCPP.
Highly user friendly interaction ●Very simple to implement ● No major back-office changes to OCPP based charging networks ● Works with new and old vehicles (already on the road) ● Ability to index vehicle id’s automatically at the first charging session (new and old)
Courtesy the Open Fast Charge Alliance, AutoCharge implementation documentation
This system was developed by Netherlands based charging network Fastned and an alliance of fast-charging networks in Europe. It first requires a vehicle driver to charge via the Fastned app to record the vehicle’s MAC address, then you can register your vehicle for Autocharge and all subsequent charging sessions can be accomplished by simply plugging in your vehicle.
While Autocharge aims to be compatible with all EVs that have CCS charging, there are some downsides to this implementation. One of which is lack of CHAdeMO support, but according to the standard, “CHAdeMO could also easily include a vehicle ID or MAC address in the communication” and could lead to it being supported in the future. The other is the robustness of communication. ISO 15118 / Plug&Charge uses PKI digital certificate infrastructure to authenticate charging sessions with your vehicle, whereas Autocharge uses a single identification method. And while Autocharge does have a back-end system to store and link your vehicle to your account and charging network, it’s not as robust or secure as the Plug&Charge method.
But all this may not matter if it means an easier experience for drivers of electric vehicles.
Simplicity is key
Speaking again to Tesla owners, one of the biggest benefits of the Super Charger network is it’s simplicity – being able to plug in and charge without having to do anything else makes it an envy to other EV drivers. But with these new plug & charge standards beginning to roll out to new and current drivers on different charging networks, you can bet that simplicity will lead to increased adoption.
Thanks to Hubjects’ Barton Sidles and Greenlots for information pertaining to the Plug&Charge / ISO 15118 standards, and thanks to Fastned and the Open Fast Charge Alliance for providing the Autocharge standards.