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The Quest for Standardizing EV Charging Payments

Hard data collected from plug-in vehicle owners shows that the majority of EV charging takes place at home. Still, the ability to charge an electric car along the road—even if infrequent—can extend the distance each car can travel over the course of a day.

Unfortunately, the public charging landscape is littered with complications and inconveniences brought on by multiple standards and incompatibilities between different vehicles and charge providers. Imagine if each brand of gas station required its own subscription, and each brand of car was compatible only with a certain type of gas nozzle.

It can be a major headache for plug-in owners. It’s also one of the main challenges that needs to be solved before public charging stations can provide drivers with the same convenience offered today by gas stations.

There are a number of ways to pay for public charging. Some services offer subscriptions while others allow users to pay for individual charges with a credit card. Most of these services are incompatible with one another, meaning that many EV drivers are forced to carry a pocketful of subscription cards.

Thankfully, a group called the Open Charge Alliance (OCA) is looking to change that—by pressuring charge providers to adopt a single open standard for networks. In Europe, most public chargers employ the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), which has been put into use at more than 10,000 stations in nearly 50 countries. So far, the United States has rejected such a standard.

Several solutions are being proposed to promote universal compatibility of charging in America. A collaborative project aptly called CollaboratEV would allow users of various networks to pay a small roaming fee when charging at a station outside of their network. Just like cell phones.

More recently, charging location app provider Recargo teamed up with one network, SemaConnect, to create Pay With PlugShare, a feature that allows drivers quick and easy access to charging stations via a single mobile device app. Simply enter a credit card number and Pay With PlugShare will wirelessly connect with the appropriate network and arrange payment, regardless of a user’s membership status.

This kind of service is now the law of the land, even if it will take some time to implement. Last month, California governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would force all public EV charge providers to make their networks accessible to all via credit card. Given the influence of California on the plug-in vehicle market in the United States, this legislation could produce positive results for electric car owners throughout the U.S.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.