Electric car charging is about to be transformed in much the same way that plug and play transformed computers and gaming, with a world-first public “plug and charge” solution now launched by world leading electric vehicle fast charging provider Tritium.
Negating the need to open up a smartphone app or pull out an RFID card, the new solution from Brisbane-based Tritium means electric vehicle owners will be able to simply plug in the car, charge, and drive away.
Tesla owners enjoy this convenience in their private network, and others do with chargers that are – for the moment – provided free, but it hasn’t been available in public fast-chargers that charge customers.
It may sound like a simple feature, but according to Tritium CTO James Kennedy, it is a game-changer for those seeking to make electric vehicles more appealing to drivers.
“This firmly and irreversibly tips the convenience scales to the recharging experience over the re-fuelling experience,” Kennedy says in a note by email.
“It’s going to be as simple as how we charge our phones, but with the added benefit of charging our bank accounts at the same time.
“There is no more need for a membership card or even to swipe a bank card at a terminal; this is the first and most secure iteration available to the market and, once deployed to critical mass, will render any former payment process as archaic.”
According to Kennedy, the plug and charge capability is made possible by a secure handshake between the electric car and the fast charger, ensuring there is no opportunity for security breaches such a lost card being misused by another driver.
“A third party, such as Hubject – which provides an automated and secure data exchange enabled by ISO 15118-conforming Public Key Infrastructure – is responsible for cryptographic certifications between the vehicle and the charger, and our technology ensures we are securely storing cryptographic keys on the charger side in a way that other chargers can’t,” he says.
“You’re more likely to lose a card and have someone swipe it somewhere than by someone being able to access account details via our Plug and Charge technology.”
By simplifying the fast charging process, Kennedy believes that another barrier to adoption of electric vehicles will be overcome.
“Right now, EV drivers approaching an EV charger will likely have to sign up for that network’s system to access it and pay for the charging session, adding unnecessary time to the experience and siloing charger networks; even accounting for the ability to pay by credit card at some chargers this is wildly inconvenient,” he says.
“With Plug and Charge, you’ll be able to plug the charger into the vehicle and it just charges, from your battery to your account.”
Tritium to date has more than 4,500 fast charging station deployed throughout the world in 33 countries, including with major European charging network Ionity.
According to Tritium, the plug and charge capability, which is a software upgrade, can be deployed to existing chargers.
“Every charge point operator will soon look to do this; we see it from a payments perspective as no different to using a particular bank card at a competitor’s ATM,” he said.
“It’s taking the friction and hassle away from the experience and operators will benefit from this seamless experience.”
In order to use the new plug and charge technology, electric vehicles would need to be fitted with a way to secure the vehicle-side cryptographic key – this will likely become a standard feature in emerging models, says Kennedy.
“The vehicles will need to have the storage technology built in, in much the same way as paying for something with your smartphone requires NFC technology.
“Once that becomes the norm, as NFC has, you will see the incidents of Plug and Charge payments skyrocket,” he says.
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Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.