Electric-car charging network cards, photo by Patrick Connor, PortlandEnlarge Photo
Lack of public charging stations is still often cited as a hindrance to greater adoption of electric cars.
But even when stations are available, it doesn't necessarily follow that every driver can use all of them.
Because the national charging infrastructure is run by multiple independent companies, drivers today must carry an array of cards and fobs to ensure access to all stations.
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Just as a driver with a credit card can pull up to any gas station and pump fuel, electric-car drivers need streamlined access to charging stations--regardless of who owns them.
At the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, several stakeholders announced a new partnership whose goal is to provide exactly that.
The ROEV Association includes two carmakers--BMW and Nissan--and charging-network operators CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, and NRG EVgo.
NRG eVgo Freedom Station at Whole Foods Market, Fremont, CaliforniaEnlarge Photo
The coalition hopes to "streamline EV charging access across multiple charging networks in order to help bring EVs further into the mainstream," ROEV chairman Simon Lonsdale said in a statement.
ROEV claims to encompass the operations of 91 percent of U.S. charging stations.
That should facilitate its plans to develop interoperability standards for operators that will allow drivers to access multiple networks with a single account.
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Like a bank card that allows its holder to withdraw money from any ATM, ROEV's members envision a single card that can be used at all U.S. charging stations.
Whether that will include anything analogous to the fees banks charge for out-of-network withdrawals remains to be seen.
Both carmakers involved with ROEV have already tried to streamline charging station access for their customers, to limited extents.
BMW i3 electric car and ChargePoint DC fast-charging station at Washington, DC, Auto Show, Jan 2015Enlarge Photo
Nissan has already attempted to create some degree of flexibility with its EZ-Charge program.
It allows Leaf owners to access public charging stations on multiple networks--including CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, and NRG EVgo.
MORE: Easier Electric-Car Charging: BMW ChargeNow, Nissan EZ Charge (Apr 2014)
BMW offers its own ChargeNow program, which allows i3 owners to use ChargePoint and NRG EVgo stations with a single card distributed by the carmaker.
ROEV is currently recruiting additional members, in the hopes that all stakeholders will eventually collaborate on a system that allows electric-car drivers to access any public charging station with ease.