Beginning in early 2019, all 135,000 users of the Blink charging network will soon be able to use other charging networks as part of their membership, while Blink’s chargers will be open to easy access by a wider range of drivers with other charging-network membership cards.
The cross-compatibility, which was announced last week, comes via a venture called Hubject, which aims to provide something a bit like cellphone roaming; they even call it eRoaming. Using a single interface to connect station operators and charging companies, the platform allows a simple payment method using a single account, app, and bill.
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Hubject started in Europe, with BMW Group, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, Bosch, EnBW, Innogy, and Siemens.
Similar deals recently announced between ChargePoint in the U.S., FLO in Canada, and EVBox in Europe make it a lot easier for electric-vehicle drivers in Europe to do so when they visit North America, and vice versa.
What sets the Hubject project apart is that drivers can use the apps from whatever networks they already use to see and pay for chargers on partner networks. The apps will include navigation capability to provide directions to the chargers as well as live data about access and availability that doesn't depend on crowdsourcing.
Blink network - charging by the kWh
For electric-car drivers, the ability to use other networks will compound the benefits of expanding infrastructure in the U.S. and elsewhere.
It’s been a long time coming. A couple of earlier interoperability ideas ended up failing. A 2013 effort called CollaboratEV, between ChargePoint and Ecotality, then Blink’s parent company, seemed promising, but Ecotality’s bankruptcy got in the way.
Later, in 2015, something called the ROEV Association picked up a different idea, seeking a set of standardized data fields across the industry through which drivers could be billed when on the go.
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Finding a public charger is a lot easier than it used to be. However, fumbling with multiple RFID cards and fobs isn’t the thing of the past it was supposed to be. This will be a welcome change for Blink chargers.
Hubject has been operating in Europe for five years. Let’s hope it catches on in the U.S. as a standard that everyone adopts.