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EV roaming and why it matters

Easier access for EV drivers means fewer barriers to adoption
A white Tesla EV charging

Two big barriers exist to broader EV adoption. The first is the comparatively high price of EVs. That’s already coming down as technology improves and manufacturer competition intensifies.

The second is range anxiety. Forty-four percent of respondents to an S&P Global survey said they were concerned about the availability of EV charging stations. Charging infrastructure is increasing—US EV charging ports have nearly doubled since 2019, and Canadian public charger installations grew by 30 percent from 2022 to 2023. Despite the growth, charging concerns are still valid for too many drivers because EV roaming has yet to become a reality.

As long as people fear that they’ll need to juggle a dozen different apps and memberships to keep their vehicle charged throughout a single road trip, the simplicity of filling up at any given gas station will remain hard to beat.

Thankfully, growing support for EV charging roaming may put those interoperability fears to rest sooner rather than later.

What is EV roaming?

EV roaming is the capacity for different charging networks to communicate with each other. This communication allows the registered users of one network to pay and charge their vehicle at another. As the name indicates, it works much like mobile network roaming—instead of your phone automatically connecting to another provider’s network, it’s your car plugging in to charge.

The goals behind EV roaming could be achieved in many ways, including direct agreements between networks that operate in nearby areas. However, the current best hope of achieving EV charging roaming support around the world is through the adoption of the open charge point interface (OCPI).

In short, OCPI allows hardware and software components from different charge points and networks to talk to each other. This opens the way for automated transactions even between networks with no existing agreements, allowing drivers to charge at more places with fewer headaches.

Why does EV charging roaming matter for drivers and networks?

Many EV charging networks require users to register unique accounts and use special apps or membership tokens to access charging stations. This puts the onus on drivers to either carefully plan each route or simply hope they have what they need to sign up and pay at whatever charging points they can find.

Though gas-burning cars are worse for the environment, they burden drivers with none of this uncertainty. Buying gas is the same anywhere drivers go.

Since charging concerns are the second biggest barrier to adoption for EVs, that discrepancy is a big problem for businesses that want to be part of building a cleaner EV future. EV roaming addresses this issue by letting users charge their vehicles wherever it’s convenient, without the hassle of signing up for a new network they may only use once.

EV charging roaming is also a boon for network operators who want to expand their access to current drivers. Each point of friction between a driver and charging their EV is another chance to lose them. If they know they’ll need to install a new app and sign up for an account—all quite possibly over a spotty data connection—before they can charge, they’ll likely just keep driving.

In short, implementing EV roaming for your charging network doesn’t just mean embracing your role in a cleaner and more efficient vehicle infrastructure. It also means opening up new avenues of profit that may have otherwise kept on driving to their next in-network charger.

How to implement EV roaming for your network

It’s easy to see why the technology that helps power EV roaming has earned the backing and advocacy of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance. If you’d like your network to be part of the growing movement toward EV charging roaming, here are a few steps you can start taking now:

  • Adopt OCPI across your networks. This free software standard is backed by the EVRoaming Foundation and is used across Europe and North America, with growing adoption in India and South Africa. As of this writing, OCPI 2.2.1 is the latest publicly available version, though plans for OCPI 3.0 are already underway.
  • Ensure your network’s charge points use software that aligns with the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). OCPP promotes hardware and software interoperability by ensuring the systems speak the same language (literally). This will help minimize potential compatibility roadblocks on the way to EV roaming.
  • Make sure your partnered facilities stay up to date. It can be expensive to remain at the forefront of changing standards and improving technologies. Fortunately, EV charger rebates and other public measures make it more affordable to offer your customers a leading experience.
  • Work with a partner that provides foundational support for EV chargers powered by open, interoperable, and hardware-agnostic software.

Ready to take your understanding of the future of EV charging to the next level? Check out our full guide on The tech powering what's next. 

ChargeLab is pushing for EV roaming

At ChargeLab, we’re proud to advocate for EV roaming as an essential part of the future of EV infrastructure. We’re also proud to offer charging software that is positioned to make EV roaming a broader reality. If you’d like to see what implementing the only true operating system for EV chargers could mean for your network, contact us today.

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