Once every party has accepted the others’ certificates as validated by a third party, the charging session initiates automatically. Robert Barrosa, senior director of sales, business development and marketing at Electrify America, called it “a three-legged stool.” Each leg has to prove its validity using public key infrastructure before the other two will accept it.
The payment mechanism often starts as a preset charging credit on a specific network provided with the vehicle purchase. It varies between a predetermined number of kilowatt-hours or unlimited use for a period of time. When the automaker incentive ends, the network charges the owner’s credit card.
Among charging providers, Electrify America has most widely implemented the Plug & Charge system. An Automotive News test of the system using the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan and Porsche Taycan at multiple Electrify America locations found it worked seamlessly. Lucid and Rivian also support Plug & Charge.
From a driver’s point of view, charging an EV with Plug & Charge is just as simple as using the Tesla system. But already, there’s potential for confusion over how the Plug & Charge system is named. In June, General Motors announced that its new Ultium-based electric vehicles would have “Plug and Charge” capabilities for the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac Lyriq and upcoming electric models.
The system provides GM customers frictionless charge sessions with EVgo, the automaker’s fast charging partner.
The software underneath is not presently ISO 15118-compliant. Instead, it’s based on a different protocol called Autocharge. It validates a charging session using a vehicle’s fixed media access controller, or MAC, address — essentially the car’s address on a network. It’s an older technology. Vehicles without fixed MAC addresses can’t use it.