EVgo Plug & Charge Works—Wow

By Paul Gipe

We just tested EVgo’s Plug & Charge feature at a station here in Bakersfield. Lo and behold, it works. Hallelujah–the convenience of a Tesla at half the cost.

Why the excitement you may ask?

Before now if you wanted the convenience of simply plugging in your EV and start charging immediately you had to drive a high-end car, a Tesla, Porsche, or the like.

We don’t. We drive a 2020 Chevy Bolt, a car that costs half that of a Tesla. For us plebeians, charging on the road at a DC fast charging station requires us to carry a passel of RFID cards, and a slew of apps on our phones.

The RFID cards work flawlessly, the apps less so. But you have to have the right RFID card or nothing happens.

Next best is to have a fancy mobile phone with NFC (Near Field Communication). Instead of using a RFID card, you hold your phone up to the sensor on the charge station. The sensor talks to your phone and with a bit of luck starts your charge. In our experience, it’s not as foolproof as the RFID card, but it works—most of the time—and you don’t have to fumble around finding the right RFID card.

One of the big advantages of Tesla over all other EVs is the abundance of their proprietary supercharger stations. Another advantage is the simplicity of charging there when you’re on a road trip. You pull up and plug in. That’s it. The kiosk communicates with the car, contacts the big Tesla bot in the sky, finds your account, and starts the charge. If you owe anything, it bills your account.

Until now most non-Tesla EVs haven’t had this functionality. EVgo’s Plug & Charge changes that. For now it works with Chevy’s Bolt, but EVgo is rolling this feature out for other EVs as well.

90% of charging is done at home. Yet, there are those times when you want to hit the road to visit friends and family or take a vacation beyond the range of your EV. This is when you need to stop at a DC fast-charging station and “fill up” to continue on your journey. Making the charging stop as quick and easy as possible is important to making EVs even more convenient than they already are.

That this feature was introduced by EVgo is somewhat surprising. EVgo was an early charge network here in California–it was essential to get anywhere in the state for several years—but it had fallen behind. The company changed hands several times, operates mostly outdated equipment, and hasn’t kept up with the growth of its competitors ChargePoint and Electrify America.

But EVgo may have finally found its footing. It has entered a partnership with GM that’s allowing it to expand its network and upgrade its charging kiosks to the higher power levels demanded by today’s EV. EVgo is on the move again. It purchased PlugShare, a crowd-sourced charge station locator used by nearly every EV driver, and now it has brought out Plug & Charge.

Convenience makes a difference. We stopped using EVgo several years ago because stations by ChargePoint and Electrify America were more widespread and more powerful. Now the simplicity of plugging in and charging at EVgo rebalances that equation. We’ll start looking for EVgo stations on our routes once again.