It was going to be awesome. No more fumbling around to find the right RFID card out of several in your purse or wallet. No need to even sign up for more than one charging provider account at all. You could, for example, just drive up to an EVgo fast DC station and use your ChargePoint account to authorize and begin charging.
That was the plan, and how hard could it really be? Developers put together software so fast these days, right? One news headline about the initial formation of the group was so bold as to announce “Interoperability Now a Reality”.
Alas, it didn’t quite work out that way. After the ROEV Association was announced in November, 2015 the website shows one media event in May, 2016 and then…. silence except for a handful of uneventful tweets.
Even before ROEV, there was an earlier deal called Collaboratev announced in 2013 between ChargePoint and Ecotality (the company that originally ran the Blink charging network). The original website domain has since been abandoned but the moribund twitter account lives on.
Both Collaboratev and ROEV were meant to be built on standards worked out within a technical committee of the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA). NEMA managed to publish a standard for RFID cards for EV charging but plans for other work needed to make ROEV become a reality failed to gain consensus.
According to EVgo VP Terry O’Day, the idea was to standardize the charging contract descriptions that could be exchanged between the service provider of the charging hardware and the service provider who has the account of the driver plugging in their car. The billing exchange would occur directly between the two service providers.
An alternate model is to have a clearinghouse organization in the middle between the two service providers in return for a transaction fee. This is similar to how cash ATMs work when used with cards issued by a different bank. A clearinghouse model could add to transaction costs but also might scale better to larger numbers of service provider organizations.
In place of NEMA, work is now happening in other standards and software development forums like the Open Charge Alliance (OCA) and various European groups. Roaming protocols being developed include the Open Clearing House Protocol (OCHP), and the Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) for direct provider to provider communications. A European EV charging clearinghouse named Hubject is using their own Open InterCharge Protocol (OICP).
It’s unclear how much longer it will take for EV charge roaming to become a reality in the U.S. VW’s Electrify America is planning to build a new nationwide charging network beginning this year and says it wants to interconnect its billing system with others but hasn’t yet said how it will go about making it happen.
Hubject, the European clearinghouse, is backed by multiple European car makers including VW, and recently announced plans to expand into the U.S. market.
ChargePoint, the common instigator behind the older Collaboratev and ROEV efforts, did not provide comment on their plans in time for this article.