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By increasing e-mobility and improving the EV ride experience, solutions like PlugSurfing are paving the way to make a clean and efficient transport accessible to drivers across the world

As seen often, unavailability of charging stations and battery swapping option in electric vehicles (EVs) make people skeptical about buying an EV. To dispel this notion, PlugSurfing GmbH, a German electric car charging and payment services provider, was founded by Adam Woolway and Jacob van Zonneveld in 2012. The company works towards making charging as simple and affordable as possible. Initially, the challenging part for them was to convince people from different fields about the feasibility of EVs, and ensure that the work done was fast and accurate.

Now, it partners with more than 430 charge point operators such as Innogy, EnBW, Last Mile Solutions, E-charge 50, Plus De Bornes, Allego and Vattenfall to offer access to over 110,000 charging points in a number of European countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Iceland, Portugal, Romania and Uruguay.

To start with PlugSurfing, the user needs to create an account via the app or the website for free. The app is available for both Android and iOS. Supported payment options are Visa, Mastercard, AMEX and Paypal. Once the payment method has been approved, a test amount of one euro is charged, which is reimbursed immediately. The app allows the customer to find nearby charging stations compatible with the car. Detailed information including location, opening times and live status is shown on PlugSurfing Map, which is directly obtained from charging point operators.

Charging points are displayed even when there is a weak or no Internet connection. A green point indicates that the charging point is available, while red indicates that the point is either occupied or out of order. Prices displayed on the app or website vary for each operator based on starting a session, kWh energy consumption or parking time at the charging station. Search results can be filtered by connector type, charging speed and payment option.

On reaching the station, the car needs to be connected with the charging point. For charging at operators who do not support charging with the app, an radio frequency identification (RFID) charging key can be purchased for € 9.95 to provide full coverage. Depending on the station, a charging session can be started with the RFID charging key or card besides the app. Some of these are fast chargers and so the cost incurred for charging is more than that compared to a normal station.

After removing the cable, the cost is added to the monthly bill. In other cases, pay-as-you-go option (Scan&Charge) is also available that offers EV charging without registration via QR code on the charging station and a mobile website backing it up. This saves the user from the hassle of keeping tens of RFID cards and going through individual billing methods of different operators. 24/7 customer service enables the driver to resolve any issues or queries directly.

With PlugSurfing having been taken over by Finnish charging infrastructure operator Fortum Charge and Drive AS, further expansion of charging services worldwide is inevitable. Following this vision, they have recently partnered with Kia motors and EasyCharger.

Transportation is one of the major contributors to the problems of pollution and global warming. Governments all over the world are aiming to reduce transport emissions. By increasing e-mobility and improving the EV ride experience, solutions like PlugSurfing are paving the way to make a clean and efficient transport accessible to drivers across the world.

—Ayushee Sharma