Apps are essential for finding free public chargers and helping you connect with other EV drivers. New apps can also help soon-to-be EV owners pick the best model for their needs.
When you’re on the go and need a charge, time is of the essence. You’ll want to quickly find the closest open charging station. Luckily, there are apps for that.
Companies that own public charging stations, like Blink, each have their own app that allow you to find stations in their network and pay for your charge. Most of these companies’ maps don’t include competitor stations though, which isn’t useful if you’re looking for any open station and you don’t care about the brand.
ChargePoint, however, which operates the world’s largest charging network, does include competing stations on its station locator map. Other apps for EV community members, like PlugShare, offer inclusive maps and interactive features for EV owners as well. If you’re still thinking about buying an EV, there are also currently a few apps that can help you choose the best EV for your lifestyle.
When choosing an app, or apps, it’s often helpful to test-drive any apps you’re interested in before committing. You may find one has more features you’ll use and you prefer a certain interface over another. It’s a matter of personal preference. Read on for a few of the top apps for future and current EV owners and their basic features.
A researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory created this app that lets drivers virtually test green vehicles. Users download the app, choose a few EVs they’re interested in and then drive their own car as usual. The app records data on your driving style—such as how you brake and accelerate, fast or slow—and conditions on your regular routes such as traffic and hills. The app then helps you evaluate which EV would best fit your lifestyle based on the data collected.
A new multilingual app out of Germany helps drivers decide whether switching from a gas-powered car to an electric one makes sense based on individual driving patterns and needs. Engineers at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Bochum, Germany developed the app, available for Android. Drivers can record their usual routes and the app will generate a list of vehicles that would suit the driver. Don’t have an Adroid? You can also access the tool on the web.
ChargePoint is the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network, currently serving 35,192 total charging spots, including workplaces, multifamily dwellings, homes, retailers and parking garages. Its app shows ChargePoint stations in addition to other network and public stations through a real-time map that lets you filter by type of charger, price and network. With the app, you can locate open stations, see prices, check your charging status and view your charging history.
The app will show you busy charging times and offers features such as a waitlist, which lets EV drivers get in line at ChargePoint stations when all ports are full. The app lets EV owners start and stop charging on ChargePoint stations and read and view tips on specific stations. You can tailor the charging station map to only see stations compatible with your car, and you can get satellite views of charging stations down to the parking spot.
The PlugShare app locates charging stations both in the U.S. and internationally. PlugShare operates like Facebook, through a social network of electric vehicle owners that share tips and photos. It’s interactive map also shows residential chargers shared by PlugShare members. You can search by the type of station—public, high power or residential—and filter by network provider.
Its directory includes over 65,700 charging stations in the U.S. and Canada and international coverage of over 76,300 charging stations. Users also share information such as charging and station tips. With the app, drivers can access around 630,000 reviews and 150,000 photos to help in navigation, which can come in handy if you’re having a problem with a specific charging station.
This app operates much like PlugShare; it’s a global database of EV charging stations, managed and populated by EV owners from across the world. Currently, its mapincludes information on 97,168 charging stations across 51,723 locations. The app gives detailed information on each charging station, often including photos.
The ChargeHub app lets you communicate with other users through a messaging system, which can be helpful in certain situations, for example, if you need to unplug another driver’s car. You can also share photos through the ChargeHub app and leave comments and tips about specific stations. The app’s map lets you filter by type of charging station, and green and red icons let you know if a station is currently being used.
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