There is a lot of confusion about “plug & charge.” All Tesla drivers know how great it is. Some Fastned customers share this experience. But most people just wonder why it does not work for them. Let me try to explain this.
To be able to use plug & charge, your car must be able to communicate with the charging operator’s back-office computer system. Tesla enables this for all newly delivered Tesla vehicles when charging on the Tesla network. As far as I know, Tesla is not currently cooperating with other charging providers to make plug & charge possible on their networks.
For a car to communicate with the charging provider’s back-office systems, a lot of conditions must be met.
- The car must have the plug & charge functions of the CCS protocol onboard and activated.
- The charger must have the plug & charge functions of the CCS protocol onboard and activated.
- The charging provider’s back-office software suite must support plug & charge.
- The car owner must have his/her car registered with the charging provider complete with a payment method.
Charging providers that are active for a longer time have charging stalls of different generations and often from different OEMs. It would be nice to have all the stalls support plug & charge, not only the newer ones, but that is not practical. The charging provider must find a software developer to implement the same protocol on all of its chargers. Best is to have this expertise in-house, but most don’t have a software development department capable of doing this.
The functionality of plug & charge being part of the CCS specifications did not automatically lead to software implementations in cars and chargers. Just recently the ISO-15118 plug & charge protocols started to be implemented in some CCS software stacks.
Tesla is making its own chargers and registers its cars with its Supercharging network when they are sold to the customers. Since Tesla uses a proprietary plug & play software solution (which would be logical, since they were the first), it needs to add ISO-15118 to its cars to make those cars compatible with other charging providers. (Any Tesla driver that uses plug & charge on Fastned? Please drop us a comment.)
When you sell your Tesla, remember to update the data at Tesla — otherwise you could keep paying for the charging of the new owner.
Fastned has charging stalls from multiple OEMs if I remember correctly, and has worked hard to have them all be able to understand the CCS plug & charge protocol. Registered users can test their cars for plug & charge capability. Fastned is agnostic of the brand, it just tests the BEV. My Zoe has working plug & charge software, and that makes it great to use Fastned. My only gripe with Fastned is that they do not have the same coverage density in the rest of Europe as they have in the Netherlands. But they are working hard on that problem.
Plug & charge is like giving your car its own credit card. You should ask for it back when you sell the car. Fastned regularly sends me an email reminding me that I have plug & charge activated in my car. I have to deactivate it if I no longer own the car.
Ionity gets all of its chargers from the Australian company Tritium. Tritium is in the process of upgrading all of its chargers with the plug & charge functionality. To be eligible for plug & charge, you need to have a charging contract with one of the brands that own Ionity. My Renault Zoe is not eligible on the Ionity and Tesla networks for plug & charge and low charging tariffs, because Renault has no ownership of or cooperation with either.
On the Ionity network, I must use a card from an eMSP (eMobility Service Provider) and pay the full price of € 0.79/kWh. At some Tesla Supercharging stations in Germany I can charge for free. Neither situation is okay.
Electrify America and Electrify Canada are starting to offer plug & charge capability in 2021 thanks to their Tritium chargers being upgraded and their back-office software being extended with plug & charge functionality. It looks like they are agnostic when it comes to car brands.
There are probably other networks that offer plug & charge, but I do not know about them. If you do, please mention them in the comments.
In the future, it should be possible to have a plug & charge contract with an eMSP and enjoy the functionality across different CPO (Charge Point Operator) networks. Don’t expect that to happen any time soon.