Paying at public charging stations

Recharging electric vehicles: how to pay at public charging stations


Recharging electric vehicles: how to pay at public charging stations

April 9, 2019

Electricity for everyone: whether spontaneous recharging or as a contract customer of an electricity provider: soon you will not only have more freedom when charging your electric car but also when paying for it. The Charging Station Ordnance and eRoaming simplify recharging and electricity billing at public charging stations. Obtaining electricity for your electric car is now so easy.

Discover here: 

  • Why paying at the charging station is becoming easier and easier
  • How to pay at the charging station
  • What eRoaming is and who benefits from it
  • How your e-car will handle billing at charging stations itself in the future

Charging at charging stations without a contract

The Charging Station Ordinance 2 (LSV 2) came into effect in November 2017. On the one hand, LSV 2 stipulates that all charging stations in the German charging infrastructure have to offer a standardised connection – the Type 2 socket outlet →. In addition, the ordnance also stipulates that everyone must be able to purchase and pay for their electricity at the charging stations. Therefore, charging station providers are no longer allowed to supply electricity only to their contract customers as was frequently the case in the past. Because not everyone regularly recharges their electric car while travelling and wants to sign a special contract for this purpose. Even as a one-time customer, you can now use the charging stations. The ordnance refers to this as “non-discriminatory charging”.

Pay by cash, card or app at the charging station

In addition to contract-based billing,where you simply hold your personal charging card to a field on the charging station or pay by app, the charging station must now offer you at least one of the following three options:

  1. Digital payment: the easiest way to pay for a full battery is digitally via an app or PayPal, for example. To pay by app, first download the provider’s app, scan the QR code at the charging station and then pay for the electricity used to charge the vehicle. Web variants like PayPal make the process even more spontaneous because you don't have to download an app beforehand.
  2. Card payment: the payment process using a debit or credit card is the same as with any card device: hold up or insert the card, enter the PIN, done. However, the investment costs for possible card payments at the charging station are not always worthwhile for the operators. At the same time, the requirements regarding the security of your data and the risk of vandalism are demanding (according to operators). That is why you cannot use a debit or credit card to pay for the charge everywhere.
  3. Cash payment: when you pay by cash, you do not need to identify yourself with a registered charging card. That simplifies recharging – theoretically. In practice, this option is rarely available. This is simply because the charging station has be equipped with an automatic pay station, similar to a car park, in order to accept money and give change. This requires a large investment in maintenance and safety, which is not usually worthwhile for the operators.

Remember: to find out how much charging costs, you usually have to inform yourself online via the operator’s website. Plus, shorter waiting times at the charging station have their price – at most charging points, quick charging with up to 350 kW costs more than the standard charge with 11 kW and you also need a CCS plug →.


Recharging at the charging station
The We Charge from Volkswagen enables you to pay at around 10,000 charging stations throughout Germany.

Contract customers benefit when paying at the charging station

More and more charging infrastructure and electricity providers are networking on platforms to make it as easy as possible for you, as a contract customer, to charge your electric car. As a user, you can not only charge your vehicle at your contract partner’s charging stations but also at all other e-filling stations belonging to the platform. As a Volkswagen customer, you have this option throughout Germany using the We Charge and the corresponding app. This cross-provider charging and payment by card or app, also known as eRoaming, is the easiest way to recharge your electric car at a large number of public charging stations, even across national borders.

The energy supply company, EnBW, for example, offers roaming as a charging option. The network includes around 22,000 charging points in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The company advertises that you pay the EnBW tariff at all of the partners, no matter what the electricity would otherwise cost. Billing is also handled via the subscription card or the app. The app also starts and stops the electric vehicle’s charging process and shows you all available charging stations in the vicinity in advance.

More and more roaming providers are also networking with each other. For example, EnBW is part of the Intercharge platform. This platform connects electric car drivers and charging infrastructures throughout Europe. As a customer you have access to approximately 55,000 charging stations to recharge your electric car. You can also find these using the Intercharge app. This makes travelling by electric car even easier because you have access to far more charging stations along the way. In addition to more charging stations for your electric car, you also benefit from price transparency. You can either view the costs at the respective charging station in the app or you pay your provider's tariff at all associated charging stations anyway.

Soon, electric cars will pay at charging stations themselves

Authentication for billing is an important part of the charging process at public charging stations. With the ISO 15118 standard, the necessary authentication certificate will be integrated directly into the electric vehicle’s electronics in future

You will no longer need cash, cards and smartphones to recharge your batteries - regardless of whether you have a contract or are a one-time customer. All you have to do is park the electric car above a panel embedded in the ground and connect the electric vehicle to the charging station via the charging cable. The panel and the electric car then automatically exchange all of the necessary information for authentication, intelligent charging control and subsequent billing.

With this new payment technology (smart charging), electric mobility continues on the right path toward becoming the mobility of the future. The LSV 2 and eRoaming standardise and simplify electricity billing at charging stations today and make your day-to-day life with an electric car even more convenient.