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GM Irons Out Plug-and-Charge Arrangement for Its EV Drivers

General Motors has partnered with EV Connect to establish seamless plug-and-charge experience at some 200 high-speed chargers nationwide. More are set to follow, say those involved with the initiative.

For the many thousands of drivers of General Motors electric cars, the task of using a public charger just got easier. The car company has partnered with EV Connect to enable a seamless “plug-and-charge" experience, not unlike the effortless charging sessions common to Tesla drivers.

The technology partnership starts to reduce the need for users of public chargers to flip through charging network apps, tap cards, phones or watches to readers that have proved cumbersome and glitchy.

“EV Connect’s partnership expansion with GM eliminates the hassle of initiating a charging session by allowing GM drivers to plug in and charge their vehicles simply,” said Jon Leicester, vice president and head of commercial at EV Connect, in an email.

The partnership between EV Connect — which serves as a platform for managing charging networks — and the automaker allows GM driver apps to locate and initiate plug-and-charge sessions. Drivers will need to also have an EV Connect app on their device, which stores payment information.

“Once enrolled and connected, GM drivers can automatically start a charging session by plugging into a supported EV Connect charger,” Leicester explained.

The GM and EV Connect plug-and-charge feature is available for about 200 fast chargers nationwide, with more plug-and-charge stations added in 2024, according to EV Connect officials.

Smoothing out the public charging process has been a goal for virtually all automakers, which have become sensitive to how charging struggles can negatively impact the driving experience. Watch for more partnerships like the one forged with GM, say EV Connect officials.

“We are aware that many OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] are interested in this type of technology and can foresee similar agreements,” said Leicester.

This isn’t the only change GM owners — and other EV drivers — can expect. Some time this year, Tesla will begin allowing Ford and GM vehicles to charge on the car company’s Supercharger network.

“It’s no secret in the e-mobility industry that Tesla has done a really nice job of building out charging infrastructure for their vehicles, both in terms of the counts when you’re out there, and then in terms of maintaining those assets from an uptime perspective,” said Seth Cutler, chief operating officer of EV Connect, in an interview with Government Technology last year.

Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia have announced they will switch to the North American Charging Standard (NACS), the charging plug created by Tesla, allowing its cars to use the network as well, which includes some 20,000 fast chargers in the U.S. Both Ford and GM plan to build new EVs with the NACS charging port, firmly establishing the Tesla plug as the standard.

A seamless and simple charging experience will require the adoption of set standards and data sharing among all players, ranging from carmakers to charging networks, say industry observers. Ultimately, why not have the vehicle function like a credit card, able to initiate and handle the sale, said Oleg Logvinov, board chair for the Charging Interface Initiative North America (CharIN NA) and CEO and president of IoTecha, during a webinar last month. The discussion was organized by the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA).

“Once you have your vehicle, you don’t need to carry a credit card, you don’t need to carry an app ... none of these extraneous devices,” said Logvinov.

With the EV charging station concept “still in its infancy,” said Leicester, some hiccups are to be expected.

“Luckily, the industry has been addressing these challenges as they emerge and are harnessing innovative technology to ensure the ecosystem is not merely overcoming today’s obstacles but actively shaping a more resilient and user-friendly future for EV charging,” he remarked.

However, drivers still experience anxiety about the operational status of a charging location when they pull into it. As of October 2023, some 4,000 charging stations with more than 7,000 ports were rated as out of service, which comes to about 6 percent of public charging stations down at any given time, said Leicester.

“To enable electricity as the next transportation fuel, and therefore increase EV adoption, EV charging needs to be as simple, straightforward and reliable as refueling a traditional ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicle, which requires innovative thinking,” he added.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.