Remember when streaming TV became a thing, and everyone said it’d be the end of cable, but what we ended up was a mess of multiple subscriptions and a sometimes more expensive monthly bill? Pepperidge Farm remembers, but automakers apparently do not. While many of the world’s most prominent automotive companies are switching to the Tesla Supercharger standard to (presumably) improve the customer experience, almost as many are simultaneously working toward separate networks, and several big-name automakers have joined forces to do it. Ford, BMW, and Honda are the latest, announcing a project called ChargeScape, which it claims will revolutionize charging and benefit EV customers and the electric utilities powering them.
ChargeScape bills itself as providing “grid services” to coordinate returning EVs’ battery energy to the grid. EV owners can earn money for sharing that energy, which the company said will help even out the ebbs and flows in electricity supply and demand throughout the day. It also promised that its platform eliminates the “need for individual integrations between each automotive brand and each electric utility,” and will use each automakers’ telematics to manage it all.
The company stated that its service will help make EVs greener by prioritizing energy from renewable resources like solar and wind and believes it will “help accelerate the true potential of the EV revolution.” It’s unclear how the platform will work and integrate with electric utilities, and we don’t know if the vehicles will need any special hardware or software to enable compatibility.
Ford was the first significant automaker to sign onto Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS), with BMW and Honda following suit not long after. Interestingly, BMW and Honda are involved in another charging partnership with Hyundai, Kia, Stellantis, GM, and Mercedes.
While any improvement in the current broken state of EV charging in the U.S. should be welcomed, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to other emerging technologies that took similar paths, such as streaming services. Charging may be hard to find and too slow in many places now, but several competing networks and services with individual payments and apps will become a real hassle for EV owners.