EVgo 350-kw DC fast-charge station, Baker, Calif.
Updated: This article has been updated to include the specific location of the first charger and detail from the event.
At an event in Los Angeles on Monday, EVgo turned on the first DC fast charger in the nation that doesn't rely on RFID tags or even credit cards to be activated—other than the Tesla Supercharger network, of course.
The first of three new chargers to use the ISO Plug&Charge standard opened on Monday at a station in Venice used by ride-sharing cars from GM's Maven service, which operates in LA and 11 other cities in North America. Other chargers at the public station are in line to get the technology as well.
“Los Angeles is ... a proving ground for how electric vehicles can be the bedrock of a cleaner transportation network,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “These fast-charging hubs will make plugging in and powering up an EV more practical for drivers and ride-share companies alike.”
EVgo calls the feature Autocharge, rather than Plug&Charge, a name which rival network Electrify America announced it will use.
"This technology not only further simplifies the EV charging experience, but also eliminates much of the hassle associated with RFID-card management,” said Maven Electrification Project Leader Frank Marotta Jr., in a statement.
The Plug&Charge system which is not yet supported by all cars or automakers, stores payment data along with vehicle parameters in software on the car, and uses the data connection in the charge cable to transmit the payment and identification data to initiate charging.
The system saves drivers several steps of plugging in and paying for charging and makes connecting to a charger faster than starting a fill-up at a gas pump.
Based on a new ISO standard 15118, the technology is expected to begin rolling out to chargers that regular electric-car drivers can use later this year. So far, however, there are few EVs that can use it.
Last week, EVgo also announced that it installed various configurations of 14 storage batteries at 11 of its DC fast charging stations to essentially act as buffers to help balance power demands, and thus minimize expensive demand charges from utilities.
The company will test different battery configurations to gather data on what's most cost-effective. Among the trials are used batteries from BMW i3s, batteries tied to single fast-chargers, and those tied to a pair of fast chargers. One of those chargers is at the University of California, San Diego, and another testbed is at a station in Baker, California, (adjacent to the world's largest thermometer) on the way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which also has solar panels.
“As electric vehicles advance to accept higher power charging rates, energy storage will play a growing role in balancing the load of larger and higher power stations," said EVgo executive vice president Julie Blunden.