GM is latest to join the race to streamline EV charging

General Motors said Wednesday it will join a growing list of automakers focused on streamlining the EV charging process by equipping its models with “Plug and Charge” capability — aka the ability to easily plug in and automate payment at a range of different charging stations.

Though Plug and Charge technology has been available since 2014, the industry has been slow to agree on standards to authenticate payment, as well as the hardware and software required. That has allowed Tesla for the better part of a decade to stand out for its no-fuss charging network that allows drivers to drive up, plug in and charge.

For drivers of other brands, the process has been messier, requiring the driver to contend with a mélange of apps and accounts, RFID readers and non-functional credit card readers before they can begin charging. Sometimes the hardware is incompatible, calling for dongles and plug adapters to connect the cable to the car.

It’s not unusual to find multiple chargers from multiple suppliers in one parking lot. But growing competition among automakers means that a smooth, functional charging experience has become more of a priority.

Plug and Charge simplifies the process by allowing drivers to pay at a charging station using their account for a different charging network. The driver just pulls up to the machine and begins charging, similar to the ease of filling up at a gas station.

GM said that the feature works with all current and upcoming GM EVs built on the Ultium Platform, as well as most Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs. With Plug and Charge, the charging station recognizes the vehicle as it parks, eliminating the need to pre-register or create an additional account. Payment is handled and authenticated directly from the user’s smartphone.

To begin, GM drivers with an EVgo account, active OnStar connected services and the GM brand app for their vehicle perform a one-time activation of Plug and Charge within the app.

The company is partnering with EVgo to add more than 3,250 fast chargers in the U.S. by 2025.

“We want to be the company that makes the EV experience seamless and convenient for everyone, as well as take the mystery and fear factor out of EV ownership,” Hoss Hassani, GM vice president of EV Ecosystem, said in a statement. “Plug and Charge complements the work already in place with Ultium Charge 360 and will be part of a much larger effort this year to expand charging infrastructure, access and education.”

GM is only the latest in a line of automakers that have launched or are in the process of launching Plug and Charge capability in their new EVs, including Volkswagen, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Hyundai, Lucid and Polestar. Though it’s an important step, GM’s reach remains limited to the EVgo network. GM said it plans to expand the service to all compatible DC fast-charging stations across the Ultium Charge 360 network.