General Motors said on Wednesday it would join a growing list of automakers focused on streamlining the EV charging process by equipping its models with ‘plug and charge’ capability – aka a range of different charging stations Ability to easily plug in and automate payments.
Although plug and charge technology has been available since 2014, the industry has been slow to agree on standards as well as the hardware and software needed to authenticate payments. This has allowed Tesla to stand out for the better part of a decade thanks to its no-fuss charging network that allows drivers to drive, plug in, and charge.
For drivers from other brands, the process has been more messy, requiring the driver to contend with a mix of apps and accounts, RFID readers, and non-functional credit card readers before initiating a charge. Sometimes the hardware is incompatible, calling for a dongle and plug adapter to connect the cable to the car.
It is not uncommon to find multiple chargers from multiple suppliers in one parking lot. But increasing competition among automakers means that a smooth, functional charging experience has become a priority.
Plug & Charge simplifies the process by allowing drivers to pay at a charging station using their account for a different charging network. The driver simply pulls up to the machine and begins charging, just like filling up at a gas station.
GM said the feature works with all current and upcoming GM EVs built on the Altium platform, as well as most Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs. With Plug & Charge, the charging station recognizes the vehicle as parked, eliminating the need for pre-registration or additional account creation. Payment is controlled and authenticated directly from the user’s smartphone.
To start, GM drivers with an EVGo account, active OnStar Connected services and the GM brand app for their vehicle perform a one-time activation of Plug & Charge within the app.
The company is partnering with EVgo to add more than 3,250 fast chargers in the US by 2025.
“We want to be the company that makes the EV experience intuitive and convenient for all, while simultaneously removing the mystery and fear factor from EV ownership,” Hos Hassani, GM vice president of the EV ecosystem, said in a statement. “Plug & Charge complements the work already done with the Altium Charge 360 and will be part of a larger effort this year to expand the charging infrastructure, access and education.”
GM is just the latest in a line of automakers that have introduced or are in the process of launching plug and charge capability into their new EVs, including Volkswagen, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Hyundai, Lucid and Polestar. While it’s a significant move, GM’s reach remains limited to the EVGO network. GM said it plans to expand the service to all compatible DC fast-charging stations on the Altium Charge 360 network.