ROEV Hopes To Simplify Public EV Charging For The Masses

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Anyone who has an EV and has ventured out into the world for some public charging love knows how jumbled and confusing the seemingly random chargers spread around can be. Pulling up, the chargers can be behind locked gates, be for residents only, require a pin, or even be in an accessible parking spot, which only adds to the uncertainty. In addition to these situations, there are several different charging platforms, like ChargePoint, Blink, and NRG eVgo, which all require different charging cards, subscriptions and pricing — leaving a new EV driver scrambling to get the right combination of smartphone apps and charging cards to ensure they aren’t left stranded in a parking lot with no charge.

Queue up the inspirational intro music, because a new coalition has risen out of the chaos to restore order (and sanity) to the public EV charging network. At an early morning press conference at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new ROEV Association was announced. I spoke with a few reps from ChargePoint over the last 2 months who hinted that a solution was in the works, and they have finally gone public.

ROEV_Association_high rez-01

ROEV, which is short for Roaming EV [charging], was founded by the three largest charging networks in the US — CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, and NRG eVgo — and two of the largest EV manufacturers — BMW of North America and Nissan. Simon Lonsdale of ChargePoint and Chair of the Board of ROEV elaborates: “the ROEV Association is working to streamline EV charging access across multiple charging networks in order to help bring EVs further into the mainstream.”

  • ROEV gives drivers access to charging stations across multiple networks, using their account of choice
  • 91% of public networked EV charging ports are operated by ROEV founders
  • ROEV Association is growing quickly, with participation from various EV stakeholders

Essentially, ROEV is working to create a universal network that lets someone with a charging card from any member network charge at any other network location. The press release included a solid analogy:

“Much like bank cards make it possible to withdraw funds from any ATM, drivers with a participating EV charging network account will be able to charge their EV at other participating charging stations. By improving the convenience of public EV charging, ROEV’s charging network interoperability will enhance the EV ownership experience for current and future drivers.”

We have united to save you from us

During the press conference, Robert Healey of BMW North America shared “EV is coming. It is the future of mobility.” He also noted that BMW brought the i3, i8, and new-to-the-stable X5 eDrive and 330e cars to show off at the LA Auto Show.

In addition to the founding members, ROEV has added several associate members, including Audi and Honda. The inclusion of Honda seems like a bit of a mystery to me given that the Honda lineup does not currently include any plug-in electric vehicles for the US market. In fact, after phasing out the Civic Hybrid at the end of the 2015 model year, Honda only offers one hybrid — the Accord with the only “next-gen” Honda vehicle in production being the Honda Clarify Fuel Cell vehicle, which runs on hydrogen, not electricity. More to come on that one. 🙂

Notably missing form the announcement was any tie to Tesla or its expansive, high-speed Supercharging network. Being that all of the partner networks in ROEV require payment to use their chargers and Tesla does not (yet) charge to charge, there’s really no reason for Tesla to join.

For more info on ROEV:

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

20 thoughts on “ROEV Hopes To Simplify Public EV Charging For The Masses

  • Now they need to standardize the power plugs.

    • No kidding, right? At a minimum, I would like them to include adapters for the other charging standards at the stations. We’ll get there…eventually…I hope :/

    • This is a non-issue in my opinion.

      To my knowledge, every Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) in the USA* without exception supports the J1772 home / destination AC slow charge standard connector (Tesla requires an adapter). Every. Single. One.

      And every DC Fast Charge (DCFC)-capable PEV in the USA without exception supports either CCS or CHAdeMO (Tesla again offers a CHAdeMO adapter). Every. Single. One.

      Most gas stations in the USA offer two connectors with four options: 89, 91, or 93 octane gasoline and sometimes E85 (one hose) or low-sulfur diesel (another hose). Most new DCFC installations similarly have two connectors – CHAdeMO and CCS. But unlike a gas station, it’s impossible to use the wrong connector on a PEV, and you needn’t pick the correct octane or ethanol blend. It Just Works™.

      Thus, PEVs are *already* far simpler than gasoline cars to refuel. If the market doesn’t select between CCS and CHAdeMO, we’ll be just fine.

      * Europe uses the Meineke connector instead of J1772 to support three phase AC not-as-slow charging. But since it’s pretty hard to drive from the USA to Europe or vice versa, this connector difference doesn’t matter. European CCS extends the Meineke connector just as American CCS extends the J1772 connector.

      • You leave out the charge card issue. Interoperability of payments systems is valuable.
        BTW, am I right to infer that a Tesla owner can in fact access the paying networks if stuck? But not the other way round?

        • Yes, Tesla drivers with the CHAdeMO adaptor or using L2 charging… as long as they have a card, like everyone else, of course.

        • “You leave out the charge card issue.”

          Possibly because I was responding to a comment that in its entirety reads, “Now they need to standardize the power plugs”?

          But to address your entirely different topic: I just signed up for all three networks when I bought my Leaf. It’s not like it cost any money until I use them. Issue resolved.

          Guess I don’t really understand why “Interoperability of payments systems is [particularly] valuable”. But if it is, isn’t this precisely the issue that ROEV purports to solve, as per the article?

          To elaborate on my discussion of power plugs at your request, all Tesla vehicles including the Roadster can use a J1772, and Model S and X drivers can also purchase a CHAdeMO adapter. In areas such as mine that have no superchargers, owners use CHAdeMO even when not “stuck”. It’s routine.

          Tesla superchargers use a proprietary connector and a one-time payment scheme included in the vehicle / supercharger purchase price, and thus no other vehicles are permitted to use their exclusive network. I don’t normally discuss proprietary systems in a discussion of charging standards, for obvious reasons. 🙂

          • Thanks for answering all my question re charging – even if I didn’t know enough to ask them.

          • I’m delighted I could help!

      • Except Tesla charge stations are exclusive as there’s no Nissan adaptor. Nissan CHAdeMo’s are mostly at dealerships and for Nissans only.

        • Well, no, I doubt your later statement. Let’s dig deeper.

          CHAdeMO and CCS are standards, and most such fast chargers* are NOT owned by Nissan nor located at dealerships. In my area, they are mostly at Walgreens Pharmacy, Cracker Barrel, and malls and owned by EvGO or ChargePoint. If course, your area may differ.

          All proprietary Tesla superchargers** are owned by Tesla to my knowledge.

          Whether Nissan-owned CHAdeMO fast chargers are allowed to charge non-Nissan vehicles and whether a cost is incurred pretty much depends on the dealership – a quick perusal of PlugShare shows no particular pattern to me. Alliances such as the one in the article suggest a corporate policy may eventually happen, though.

          As I stated above, a Model S or X (but not a Roadster) can charge at a CHAdeMO fast charger with an extra cost adapter, which helps fill the current gaps in their supercharger network. A CSS adapter is technically feasible but unlikely for business reasons. No adapters exist to charge a non-Tesla vehicle with a Tesla supercharger, for business reasons I mentioned previously.

          Tesla focuses on supporting their own long range EVs for nationwide travel, and should have a complete network by end of 2016 (though more capacity will need to be added as the Model 3 sales ramp up).

          The three major standards-based fast charger network owners currently focus on supporting shorter range EV travel within larger cities, but that will need to change to support the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf 2 starting in 2017.

          Hope this helps.

          * Technically they are Direct Current Fast Charge (DCFC) Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE), but most non-engineers call them simply “fast chargers”, so in non-engineering forums, I do, too. 😉

          ** There is really no good technological difference to justify calling Tesla fast chargers “superchargers”, but since they do, I don’t argue semantics. Business is business. Most CHAdeMO today provide 50 kW of power or less, while most superchargers provoke 120 kW, but that’s because Tesla must charge much bigger batteries. CHAdeMO products currently support up to 100 kW, CCS up to 120 kW in the USA and 170 kW in Europe, and Tesla up to 135 kW, but the limits are solely practical based on cable and pin current limits and the target EV. I’m unaware of a technical limit on any of these. And yes, the real limit on charging is actually electrical current and battery recharge curves, not power. The closer to fully recharged a battery becomes, the slower the charge rate.

  • They need to stick a very tall sign in the air at each one of these so people start understanding how many and where. There are quite a lot more charging points than McDonald’s but I doubt many people are aware of this.

    MickeyDs 14,267
    charge points 28,227 ( level 2 or DC fast 25,230 )

    • Agreed. Despite writing about these for years, I didn’t notice a charging station ~2 minutes walking from my house next to a pretty big shopping center until I found it on a map. Think that the invisibility of these in a lot of spots is a big missed opportunity to raise awareness.

      • You can also try to locate chargers in your area. The site allows filtering by type (private homes willing to help fellow drivers, public charging stations, high-power stations, and more).

        • Yes, I think that’s how I found it. Was surprised to see it included charging stations in Poland, though.

  • They need to put an RFID in the car to “tap your card” to charge and to stop charging which is an unnecessary nuisance.
    They need Chademo and Tesla charging stations in rest areas along the interstate highways. They need to allow people to charge money to use the EVSE equipment in rest areas, a policy which needs a change in federal DOT rules/law.

    • Tap to charge can be replaced with the app (at least for chargepoint) which can also be annoying as they layout on the map seldom matches the layout IRL.

      I’m not sure about rest areas though it seems like DC fast chargers could make a lot of sense. How about we fund them with grants and put up solar and batteries to support them? Dunno…I could see this working out though I’m not sure what the actual issue preventing them is…no commerce at rest stops? It will become a non-issue quickly as longer range EVs hit the market and these first gen (mass production) evs fade into the past or get battery pack upgrades (100kwh leaf battery anyone? 😀 :D)

    • Why not simply register each EV with a unique digital signature, and authenticate the vehicle to the EVSE with it? Unless you explicitly switch payment information before you connect, use whatever method you’ve set up by default.

      That’s far simpler than we use with gasoline or diesel today – just connect to begin charging and disconnect to end charging.

      • Let’s hope people in the trade read this blog. The cars are already unique by chassis number, and Tesla are not the only company offering software upgrades that require digital identification.

      • Exactly. Let the car and charger communicate. Let the driver get into the conversation via phone if needed.

  • Love the news!!! But is that seriously the entire display they had at the presentation? Very attractive and lavish 😉

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