At the moment there are four distinct electric car charging networks in the United States. Three of them are based on the SAE J1772 standard. The fourth is Tesla's SuperCharger network intended initially only for its owner's. Theoretically, because ChargePoint, CarCharge/Blink, and NRG EVGo all use the J1772s standard, any electric car, other than a Tesla, should be able to plug in and recharge, but you can't. Each has their own proprietary access protocols. If you're a ChargePoint subscriber you can't access CarCharge/Blink chargers or NRG units or visa versa.
Between the big three, that's a lot of public chargers: more than 17,000 of them nationwide or 91% of the entire U.S. network. Instigated by a groundswell of frustrated EV owners, those three companies, plus BMW and Nissan, began work more than a year ago to solve the problem, announcing at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show the formation of the ROEV Association, a 501 c6 non-profit trade association to develop and implement a common "roving" charge system that would, like owning an ATM card that works at any banking institution's cash machine, enable any system subscriber to access any charger belonging to the three founding members.
As explained by ChargePoint's Simon Lonsdale in this two-part EV World Dialogue video, what's taking place is the development of a common access protocol, which is being overseen by a third party standards group. Once the standards have been developed and agreed to, the next step will be certification of each company's system to meet that standard.
From the EV owner's perspective, what's taking place is largely a change in the software that operates each network, accompanied by a revised smartphone App and likely a new access card. Lonsdale expects to see the new system rollout within a year from the original LA announcement. Besides the two founding automakers - BMW and Nissan - ROEV is also working with several other car companies, as well as EVS manufacturers, so expect more announcements in the coming months.
As for Tesla, Lonsdale says his organization has reached out to them, noting that the association "would love to find a way for Tesla to join ROEV," meaning don't hold your breath folks. Tesla has its own playbook from which its working, one that Lonsdale acknowledges is helping the larger EV world.
While most of the proposed ROEV network is based on Level II AC charging, more DC fast charging is continuing to be installed, including the two "express corridors" being built out this year linking Portland, Oregon and San Diego on the West Coast and Boston and Washington, D.C. on the East Coast. Using fast charge technology developed by BMW, the ultimate aim is to offer 200 miles per (charging) hour capability not unlike Tesla's Supercharger system.
First Published: 2015-11-15
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