What is Plug & Charge?

Octopus Electroverse mascot, Zapman, using plug & charge functionality to automatically charge their EV with an IONITY chargepoint

For EV drivers, RFID cards and apps have become ubiquitous with starting a charging session, but as EVs are large pieces of tech, will it ever be possible for an EV to communicate with a charging station and automatically initiate a charge?

Turns out… it's possible now.

Plug & Charge is the next generation of EV charging, but what does this actually mean? Which EVs are currently compatible? And how can you get set up with Plug & Charge on Octopus Electroverse? 

Let’s get plugged in…

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What is Plug & Charge?

Plug & Charge is a new technological concept from the International Organisation for Standardisation (IOS), offered as the future-proof way for seamless EV charging. 

Currently, EV drivers must plug into a charge point and initiate a connection using an RFID card (such as the Electrocard), app or contactless payment. These methods act as a key to opening the charging lock. With Plug & Charge, the EV driver just needs to plug in, and the charge initiates automatically…

So, how does this work? 

Plug & Charge depends on two factors: the charge point equipment and the EV. A Plug & Charge connection can only establish once certain technical requirements and certifications are met.

Firstly, the EV must be compatible with Plug & Charge and have a Plug & Charge certificate installed - you can find more information on certification in the steps below. Similarly, the individual charge point must have Plug & Charge capability implemented* (this is the responsibility of the charge point operator e.g. Fastned, Osprey, MER).

If both of these requirements are met, once the EV is plugged into the charge point, an encrypted connection establishes - also known as a TLS (transport layer security) handshake. During this handshake, the charge point presents its digital certificates to identify its legitimacy - the EV will verify these certificates to inspect signatures and expiration dates. If verified successfully, the TLS handshake is complete, and the charge will start within a few seconds!

(*As it stands, only IONITY charge points are compatible with Plug & Charge.)

Which vehicles are compatible with Plug & Charge?

There are currently only a handful of vehicles compatible with Plug & Charge; however, this should soon include many more. To be compatible with Plug & Charge, the EV must have been produced from July 2022 or have a Plug & Charge compatible software update. Current compatible EVs include:

Volkswagen (with ID.software version 3.1 or newer)

Cupra (with ID.software version 3.1 or newer)

If you believe your vehicle is eligible but aren't sure whether you have the correct software installed, get in touch with your vehicle manufacturer - they'll have the answer!

Where can I use the Plug & Charge functionality?

At any IONITY location! Use the Electroverse map to find your nearest IONITY charge point.

screenshot of the Octopus Electroverse map filtered to show IONITY EV charging stations compatible with plug & charge

How to install Plug & Charge

1. If you think you have own a compatible vehicle, please register your eligibility here.

2. As part of the certification process, users will need to locate and confirm their PCID (Plug & Charge identifier) or VIN (vehicle identification number)/chassis number.

The VIN/chassis number is a 17-character code found at the bottom of an EVs windscreen on the passenger's side. Alternatively, it can also be found in the V5 vehicle registration document. 

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If you’d like to learn more about the VIN, check out the RAC’s blog: VIN - what is it and why is it important? 

3. Once the PCID has been confirmed by the EV driver, a Plug & Charge certificate is created by the vehicle manufacturer (e.g. Volkswagen). This certificate protects the vehicle and user data during the Plug & Charge process by securing communication through encryption, decryption, and two-way authentication. The Octopus Electroverse team will send this certificate for the EV driver to accept and install in their vehicle (via the EV manufacturer app).

4. Once installed, the Plug & Charge functionality will be ready to use with any compatible charge point! Currently, you can use Plug & Charge at any IONITY location! Use the Electroverse map to find your nearest IONITY charge point.

To use Plug & Charge, simply plug in your EV, and wait 10-15 seconds for the session to start. We'd advise keeping an eye on the IONITY unit just to make sure the charge starts smoothly!

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Interested in learning more? Head over to our Electroverse Community area for more electrifying content.