Last week, we reported that Electrify America and ChargePoint had just inked a roaming agreement allowing their customers to use each other’s electric car charging networks. On Tuesday, another major network, EVgo, announced it has also signed agreements, this time with ChargePoint and EV Connect. In a press release, EVgo says that the agreements will mean EVgo customers will have access to 400 new fast charging stations in addition to the 750 DC fast chargers the company currently operates in the US.
“EVgo’s two new bilateral interoperability agreements will make charging for EVgo customers even more convenient through our strengthened commitment to open standards, collaboration, and innovation,” said Cathy Zoi, EVgo’s CEO.
As Zoi’s statement points out, this deal—like the Electrify America/ChargePoint one before it—is a bilateral agreement between individual networks. That’s great if you’re an EVgo customer who wants to use a ChargePoint charger without creating a new user account. But it’s obviously no help if (for example) you’re an Electrify America customer who needs to plug in to an EVgo charger.
Luckily, there is a solution that may work better for the end-user: over in Europe, Hubject appears to point the way. It was created in 2012 and is owned by three German automakers (BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen) as well two technology companies (Siemens, Bosch) and a pair of utilities (EnBW, Innogy). “They came together to solve the issue of charging and roaming,” said Paul Glenney, Hubject’s North American CEO. This group’s solution to the interoperability problem is called eRoaming, and it works in a similar manner to the way mobile phone users can seamlessly use other networks while traveling.
The arrangement doesn’t mean EV owners need to run out and add a Hubject account. All of this should be invisible to the end user—Hubject’s actual customers are the charging networks or utilities. Its platform provides an API that different charging networks can use to make that interoperability painless for drivers. “Our software is middleware that runs between network providers in a hub architecture,” Glenney explained.
“For example, an OEM who wants all to be able to display charging stations on their smartphone app and infotainment system would connect to Hubject, and the driver gets real-time dynamic point-of-information of where chargers are, services around there, pictures of the charging station, and so on,” he said. “It will also tell the user if the charger is available, being repaired, and so on. As you drive around, you can access different charging providers as long as they’re on the network.”
Hubject came to the US in 2017. Last year, the EV charging networks Blink and Moev signed on as a partners.