What is AutoCharge?

AutoCharge is a technology that automates the authentication, authorization, and billing for EV charging, in contrast to the typical way of charging an electric vehicle, which requires EV drivers to use an app or an RFID card.

Application of AutoCharge

AutoCharge aims to make charging an EV at public charge stations as seamless as possible: drive up to a charge station, plug in, plug out. Here’s briefly how AutoCharge works.

  1. The EV driver goes through a one-time setup with their charging network, filing details about payment and EV identity—Media Access Control (MAC) or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  2. After the initial set-up, the driver only needs to plug in the EV to start charging without having to authenticate with an RFID or an app.
  3. AutoCharge automates authentication, authorization, and billing by passing the payment and EV information from the charging station to the charge point management system (CPMS) using the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP).

This process is network-specific, meaning the driver needs to do an initial set-up for each charging network they want to use.

Importance of AutoCharge

AutoCharge attempts to solve the problem of messy charging by attempting to make it even easier than fuelling up an ICE car, for example, because EV drivers don’t need to wait at the register to pay for “fuel.”)

Now that EVs are getting longer ranges and CPs are rising everywhere, range anxiety is declining as the main barrier to mass EV adoption. However, another challenge has taken its place—the charging experience. 

Charging any electronic device is as simple as plugging it into the socket, and in theory, charging an EV should be as simple as plugging the charging cable into the vehicle. The reality, however, is that, for the most part, EV charging involves several steps and can be quite a hassle for longer, cross-border trips. Depending on the route, an EV driver may need to download and register with multiple apps for multiple EV charger networks and then manually initiate and stop each charging session.

AutoCharge for Industry Players

AutoCharge appeals to charge point operators (CPOs) and electric mobility service providers (eMSPs) because it simplifies EV charging. The result is a better customer experience, increasing the perceived value of the charging network and attracting and retaining more drivers.

This technology is also valuable to charge point manufacturers in that it increases the attractiveness of AutoCharge-enabled charge points to CPOs.

Practical Examples of AutoCharge

The practical use of AutoCharge is straightforward. An EV driver plugs in their EV without fumbling for apps or RFID cards. It is especially useful on longer journeys, provided all charging stations on the way support this functionality.

AutoCharge vs. Plug and Charge

Another technology is expected to appear on the market soon that provides even better functionality and goes by the name “Plug and Charge.” It is part of the ISO 15118 protocol, and expectations are that its mass adoption will call into question the need for AutoCharge. The reason is that Plug and Charge provides greater security, although it is more expensive and difficult to implement.

Additional Information About AutoCharge

  • The proper application of AutoCharge requires teamwork between all parties involved in developing and implementing this solution, including EV and charge point manufacturers, CPMS providers, CPOs, and eMSPs.
  • Not all charging stations and electric cars are compatible with AutoCharge. The condition for compatibility is for the EV to have a CCS plug and a unique vehicle ID (MAC or VIN). All DC charging stations are compatible, but CPOs need to enable it as functionality. Some AC chargers may also support AutoCharge, but things get more complicated because they need to support ISO 15118-3, and only some models do.
  • DC chargers may be AutoCharge-compatible, but not all DC charging stations have it enabled. AutoCharge is only available to EVs that have the CCS plug because the CCS is the only fast charging standard that can communicate the EV’s unique identifier to the charging station. That said, there are CCS-equipped EVs that do not have MAC addresses or use shared MACs, which may render them incompatible with AutoCharge.

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