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Companies Collaborate on E.V. Charging for All

Electric vehicle charging station outside CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

One of the best things about automated teller machines is that they accept cards from many different banks, a convenience not available to electric car owners plugging in at some fee-based public chargers. Public charging companies tend to develop their own billing networks, smart card access and other features, so an E.V. driver who is running on empty can be out of luck if the only available station is operated by an “out of network” provider.

That’s changing with the announcement of Collaboratev, a joint project of two major charging companies, ChargePoint and ECOtality. By the end of the year, the partners say that they will offer a system making a wide range of public chargers available to electric car owners signed up to many different services. Ravi Brar, chief executive of ECOtality, which makes Blink-branded chargers, said in an interview, “The time is right to put together a seamless experience when it comes to public charging. Just as A.T.M.s and cellphones can operate across platforms and networks, it makes sense for E.V. drivers to carry one card and get one bill.”

Both companies are working with the National Electric Manufacturers Association, a trade group representing electric equipment companies, to develop hardware and software specifications and protocols that charging networks will use to talk to each other. If adopted, they will enable Collaboratev to work seamlessly across different platforms, the partners said.
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