Hubject may be a word without much meaning right now, but six German companies, including Daimler and BMW, want it to stand for easy-to-use, easy-to-access electromobility.

The two German automakers, along with Bosch, EnBW, RWE and Siemens, have created the hubject GmbH joint venture to build out a charging infrastructure in Germany that is standardized, open and integrated. Set to roll out with a test phase at the end of the summer, Hubject will "enable all future users of electromobility to access a nationwide charging infrastructure comfortably and securely." The network of chargers will be branded with a "compatibility logo" to let participating drivers know that their cars will work with the chargers while, behind the scenes, data will be shared to "create an integrated charging infrastructure for mobility and vehicle providers." Read: drivers will get billed the right amount no matter where they charge.

We've heard rumors in the past that some European automakers don't necessarily want to adopt the CHAdeMO fast-charging standard. The Hubject announcement doesn't specifically address this one way or the other – it just says, "The new enterprise is a deliberately open platform that aims to involve as many partners as possible" – which will likely continue to feed the rumor mill.
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New company creates basis for customer-friendly electromobility

Berlin, Mar 15, 2012

hubject GmbH joint venture set up
Development of an open data platform for roaming and clearing starts
Compatibility logo as distinctive identification feature for charge spots

A central element for the increasing expansion of electromobility in Germany is taking shape. To enable all future users of electromobility to access a nationwide charging infrastructure comfortably and securely, BMW Group, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, RWE, and Siemens have formed a joint venture. Following the announcement of a memorandum of understanding to this effect in January, the six partners have now officially launched their joint venture.

Known as "hubject GmbH," the new company is based in Berlin. It considers itself a pioneer of electromobility. Its purpose is to develop and operate a data platform that will create an integrated charging infrastructure for mobility and vehicle providers. The new enterprise is a deliberately open platform that aims to involve as many partners as possible.

The market for electromobility in Germany is coming to life. The number of electric vehicles available is steadily increasing. This calls for an easily accessible, integrated charging infrastructure. And to ensure that customers can access this infrastructure simply, wherever they are, the diverse technologies in the electromobility market need to be linked.

What comes next? Besides the development of the technical platform, a distinctive compatibility logo will be designed. This charging infrastructure logo will show the customer that a charge spot belongs to the partner network. The aim of the logo is to create a high recognition value. It stands for process and billing security, as well as signifying trustworthiness and comfort for the end customer. All this is ensured by roaming and clearing services that run as a background process and are based on a software platform operated by hubject GmbH. So while being invoiced by just one individual contract partner, electromobility customers will be able to use different operators' charging infrastructures.

Making utilization of the charging infrastructure user-friendly will, it is hoped, help not only to further expand electromobility but also to make it more widely accepted by the general public. The test run of the new service platform in Germany is planned from the late summer.


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  • 17 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      If it comes to a standards war, and it seems Nissan/Renault see each other more as competitors than colleagues, then it seems likely Renault will wipe the others out. 'The Chameleon charger revolutionises electric vehicle charging ZOE is the only electric vehicle to feature the Caméléon charger. Patented by Renault, this charger is compatible with all power levels up to 43kW. Charging batteries at a charging station can take between 30 minutes and nine hours. For example, ZOE can be charged in an hour at 22kW. This intermediate power level extends battery life and puts less pressure on the power grid than the fast-charging of batteries at 43kW. The Chameleon charger allows fast-charging at charging stations at a quarter of the cost Fast-charging stations are currently equipped with high-power chargers. Now that the Caméléon charger is fitted to the vehicle, there is no longer any need for chargers at charging stations. New fast-charging stations will be opened which are easier and more cost-effective. They will cost less than €3,000, a quarter of the cost of existing fast-charging stations' http://media.renault.com/download/media/specialfile/31862_1_5.aspx That is way cheaper than the Nissan charger, and Renault is doing by far the cheapest electric vehicles in initial purchase price. I really don't know what Nissan/Renault are playing at, and I am a bit disappointed in Ghosn.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      BMW, Daimler, and VW are already on board with the SAE Level 3 DC charger. http://gm-volt.com/2011/10/14/gm-and-other-automakers-agree-on-proposed-level-iii-charging-standard/ So is this a billing system? Just a branding?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        "Its purpose is to develop and operate a data platform that will create an integrated charging infrastructure for mobility and vehicle providers." Seems like more a billing system with a brand than anything else. Like the Fuelman fleet network for gasoline stations.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Sounds right to me. And that is a good thing to do. It would be nice to have a whole bunch of chargers all over where you could pull up to any one, swipe a card, and charge up.
      Chris M
      • 3 Years Ago
      My first impression of "hubject" was hub motors, but instead it turns out to be charging and data "hubs" for charge billing purposes. Much more important than hub motors, but perhaps they should have chosen a more appropriate name.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm seeing the beginnings of a real standards mess here in Europe. Germany seems to be off trying to set their own standards here, which may have compatibility with CHAdeMO or may not. Meanwhile, the Nissan/Renault group can't even agree internally on a standard, with the Renaults going to an entirely different and incompatible charger.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        I could see this competitive standards business evolving as an actual business model. Having a capability to charge at a quicker rate is certainly a plus to the consumer, and naturally the manufacturer is going to want to provide superior capabilities compared to their competitors' products. On the charging infrastructure end, a similar situation arises as quicker charging facilities can ask a premium price for their service based on the added value of the customer spending less time waiting. It might mean a lot of cars can or cannot use specific charging stations, but the owners would know that going into their purchase - and their choice of vehicle could be influenced by their desire for that capability. Are anyone other than Tesla owners going to be able to use the Supercharger network?
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Not even all the Tesla's are compatible with their supercharger: 'The cheapest model isn’t compatible with the Tesla supercharger option, which in Tesla terminology means an on-board adapter that lets the car recharge to half-power in 30 minutes using a high-voltage source.' http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/110193-look-out-nissan-leaf-tesla-s-will-sell-for-under-50000-run-for-160-miles
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Exactly. Tesla uses the option of Supercharger access to direct their own customers to a more expensive model than they might originally have chosen, just for the convenience of quicker charging times. Proprietary charging system with superior capabilities = value added to product Plus, you now how a dedicated customer base for your charger network.
      Kei Jidosha
      • 3 Years Ago
      It will be telling if Renault, with it’s just introduced 43kW on-board “Chameleon” charger in the ZOE, signs on to Hubject. This would indicate that CHAdeMO is on the way out.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kei Jidosha
        I suspect it is a fully international, German company only standard! ;-(
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kei Jidosha
        I think Zoe only has a european 3 phase plug, no chademo http://cdn.images.autocar.co.uk/612x408FFFFFF/NonCar/Renault/Zoe/Renault-Zoe-30910101163980612x408.jpg it's a mess
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Yep. Although they are striving to introduce induction charging in future Renaults! Confused? We will be!
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      hubjection your honor sustained. for EVs to really take off we need 50kW+ charging, be it chademo or AC. we need that 6 minute 40% score in the shape of a large club with which we bash the ICE dummies' heads in. there is a lot to be said for putting the charger electronics in the charge station instead of the car. we need chademo+ with a more elegant plug. but why listen to me...
      pmpjunkie
      • 3 Years Ago
      This makes perfect sense for Germany. The Renault Zoe already uses a system similar to the reductive charger from AC Propulsion (that uses the already existing power controller components in the car as charger components). This enables them to skip the roll-out of an expensive CHADEMO charger network and to just use the existing electrical infrastructure with a communication interface that handles access and billing. Considering that each German housing unit has at least 3phase service of 230V/63Amp, giving them a minimum of 43.5kW, you can do fast charging there in every house. And the CEE plug that can handle the load is only about $50-60 and already in mass production.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @pmpjunkie
        Many thanks. Have you got links to a fuller exposition? Suited reasonably to us non-engineers, that is. Surely you could not commandeer the whole power load to the house for the charging though? Its not clear on the Renault why you would want to anyway, as the 22kwh charge is specifically mentioned as less stressful for frequent charging than 43kw. Charging your car at home in an hour is good enough anyway!
          pmpjunkie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Here is an explanation of the system: http://www.acpropulsion.com/products-reductive.html What I like about the reductive charger is that it seems to scale with the car. If you have an urban econobox you may not need a 40kW charger and if you have a Tesla S Performance, 40kW may not be enough. Having the charger on board solves that. 63Amps is the minimum and yes it would not be a good idea to use it all for charging the car. Just providing the 40kW wall outlet, even if you don't fully utilize it for your economybox is not significant at all.
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