Electrify America turns on Plug&Charge - Here's why that matters

Electrify America is rolling out Plug&Charge across its US charging stations, promising to make juicing up an electric vehicle as easy as plugging it in – assuming you have the right model. It's the first time the technology has been offered in the US, building on the ISO 15118 charging standard that aims to make recharging EVs simpler than fueling up a gas or diesel vehicle.

Currently, if you want to use an Electrify America charging station – or, for that matter, one from most of the public providers – it involves authenticating with your account. With some, that can be done by scanning a barcode, or tapping an NFC tag against the charging post, or using a virtual membership card in your smartphone's mobile wallet; alternatively, you can usually initiate a charging session through the network's app.

Plug&Charge, however, bypasses that completely. It relies on the vehicle itself authenticating the charging session, communicating via the CCS charging connector itself. Plug the EV in, and after a handshaking process it registers the account and begins charging.

You'll need an Electrify America account set up first, with a payment method assigned, but after that initial hurdle the app should only really need to be opened to check balances and locate chargers themselves. The company is pushing out support now to all its US chargers; that numbers around 500 DC fast charger locations, providing up 350 kilowatts of power. News of the upgrade was first confirmed last year, with Electrify America collaborating with Hubject – which itself is backed by automakers like BMW Group, Daimler, and Volkswagen Group, along with Bosch, Siemens, and others – on the project.

You'll need a compatible EV in order to actually take advantage of Plug&Charge, mind. To begin with, that'll include the 2021 Porsche Taycan, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the 2021 Lucid Air.

Notably, that list doesn't include Tesla's vehicles. While the automaker's electric cars and SUVs interact with its own Supercharger network wirelessly, beginning the charging session automatically when the EV is plugged in, that relies on a private network that the cars connect to. They don't, at least currently, appear to support the ISO 15118 standard. Tesla owners can use Electrify America chargers if they have the CCS adapter that the automaker includes with its vehicles.

Where Plug&Charge will really prove its worth, though, is when other charging networks develop support for it. Then, there'll be the potential to simply plug in your EV and have the recharging process happen without needing to think about which app, fob, or card to tap, swipe, or wave.