At the International Emobility Conference in Berlin, Hubject GmbH announced intercharge, an "eRoaming" platform enabling European electric car owners to use any charging station. The company, a joint venture between several German manufacturers, carries the tagline "Charge wherever you like," or the vision of electric car owners being able to use any charging station without being required to maintain a membership with the charging station owner.
In both Europe and the U.S. most electric car charging stations are owned by a charging station network, and limit access to those who are members of the network. Sometimes an electric car driver will end up in front of a charging station, desperately needing to charge, but unable to do so because of limited access.
The situation is similar to the state of cell phone use in the mid 1990's. In that era, cell phone usage meant understanding how to navigate roaming agreements if you dared to use your phone outside its service area. The interchange system is, in effect, "roaming" for access to electric car charging stations.
The clear need being addressed by intercharge is the same need as is being addressed by Collaboratev in the U.S. That company is a joint venture between ChargePoint and ECOtality, and has the door open to participation by other U.S. charging station networks. Hubject's interchange is solely for European charging station networks.
Participating charging network operators place tags on charging stations that have QR codes. Electric car drivers scan the QR code with their phone, and that authenticates the driver, and initiates the charging session.
The role of Hubject GmbH is to operate a payments settlement network and authentication portal. Charging network operators connect their systems to Hubject, whose systems interconnect the participating charging networks.
Hubject GmbH is a joint venture of BMW Group, BOSCH, Daimler AG, EnBW, RWE and Siemens. The company currently is partnered with Germen, Benelux and Austrian charging networks. There are clearly other European companies, car manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and charging networks, that could participate but are not currently doing so.
Andreas Pfeiffer, Managing Director of Hubject GmbH, comments: “By starting the eRoaming platform we and our partners have provided the solution to a fundamental emobility issue. intercharge will enable all users of electric vehicles to charge easily and anywhere.”
Dr Herbert Diess, member of BMW's Board of Management responsible for Development and speaking on behalf of all shareholders of Hubject GmbH, today welcomed the start of the eRoaming platform: “It is our aim that users of electric vehicles can charge anywhere and easily. This joint initiative enables us to leave national and regional stand-alone solutions behind and to create a European network that connects the different charge point operators and is available to all users.”