All GM EVs Add Plug And Charge Capability
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No matter what you may think of Tesla
and its controversial CEO, it still does at least one thing better than any other company in the EV space. The Tesla charging experience remains head and shoulders above the rest of the industry. It’s simple to use and mostly very reliable. As General Motors
begins the rollout of a whole range of new EVs, it is trying to tackle the easy charging part with its own implementation of Plug & Charge capability.

As the name suggests, Plug & Charge is meant to make the use of public chargers brain dead simple. Just plug a cable into an EV and it magically starts flowing electrons into the battery. There is an industry standard called ISO 15118 which defines vehicle to grid communication protocols. Part of this standard is Plug&Charge. When a vehicle is connected to a charger, they shake hands, the vehicle is authenticated including payment information and the electrons flow.

So far, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford, Lucid and a few others have integrated the ISO 15118 version of Plug&Charge into their vehicles and Electrify America has added support. When it works it’s great, no messing around with accounts or tapping credit cards. Just add a payment method into the vehicle account and it works, sometimes. The experience can best be described as hit and miss.

Since launching the Supercharger network, Tesla has had its own version of this concept and it works consistently. GM has also opted to create its own implementation that is distinct from the standard which is called Plug and Charge (not the word and instead of &). GM’s Plug and Charge is based on another European standard called Autocharge which its main charging partner EVGo has been using for about a year. Plug and Charge adds additional security features on top of Autocharge.

“So in 15118, one of the use cases is called Plug&Charge. So in that sense, so there’s no difference from the drivers perspective,” said Tommy Doran, manager of EV charging experience at GM. “The difference from the implementation is we were able to do this very quickly and do it in a way that is very expandable to all the other vehicles and other networks. The other way requires a lot of hardware changes and solutions and an integrated network gets very complicated quickly.”

Eventually GM plans to upgrade to the newer 15118-20 standard which should be more universally adopted. For now, GM is working with all of its charging network operator partners to get Plug and Charge implemented. It has already done this on the vehicle side. New Ultium platform based vehicles like the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq as well as everything coming has support. But GM has also back ported the system to the original 2017 Chevrolet Bolt as well the Bolt EUV.

GM EV drivers will just enter a payment method in the app for their vehicle, My Chevrolet, My GMC, My Cadillac and My Buick and when they plug in at an EVGo station it should start charging without any additional interaction.

Of course, the payment authentication is only useful if the charger is available and functional when a driver arrives. GM like other automakers is also working with charging network operators to get accurate and up to date information on charger availability so that it can be displayed in the Ultium Charge 360 interface in the vehicle as well as encouraging networks to do a better job maintaining chargers.

Hopefully, the uptime requirements that are part of funding for new chargers from the federal infrastructure bill will further entice network operators to do a better job on equipment and software maintenance.

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