BMW 3-series plug-in hybrid prototype charging port
Since only a relative pittance of electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. to date, forgive us if we assume you don’t own one. Working off of that assumption, let us illuminate a particularly frustrating aspect of EV ownership: Charging. We’re not talking about most EVs’ short driving range; rather, it is the financial transaction involved that can annoy. If the charger isn’t free—you can stop reading now, Tesla owners, unless you want to feel fulfilled—it most likely falls under one of several “networks,” each with its own frequent-user access card and attendant account. BMW, Nissan, and a conglomerate of these access-card providers are banding together to change that, forming the ROEV Association to consolidate access to the various charging networks already out there.
You may be wondering why this matters, especially when most not-free public EV chargers still offer out-of-network customers ways to pay with a credit card. Well, that can be frustrating, and even finding out-of-network chargers can be hard. This is what BMW has to say about the matter:
“Currently, to access all 19,000 public, networked EV charging ports in the U.S., drivers may have accounts with numerous EV charging networks, carry multiple access cards, and use a variety of mobile apps to find stations. Particularly for unplanned charging, this may mean additional time and inconvenience for the drivers of the more than 380,000 EVs sold in the United States to date.”
The goal with the new network, which blankets 91 percent of public networked EV charging, is to enable “interoperability” between networks. (The new network is not, as some may think, a collection of superfast chargers to rival Tesla’s Supercharger network, with which only Tesla vehicles are compatible.) This will allow EV owners to keep their current charge account—provided it’s among those incorporated into ROEV—and use it at any participating charging station. So far, ROEV has expanded to include Audi, Honda, and several regional power companies. You may not own an EV now, but if you do take the leap, you’ll be able to juice up with more streamlined access to public chargers.