Since electric cars are a part of new ‘smart’ technology like phones, TVs, or home smart speakers, they require companion apps. There are apps to control basic vehicle functions like locking the doors or pre-conditioning the A/C. There are apps to plan road trips with charging destinations along the way. There are apps to locate nearby chargers and their information like charging speed, user reviews, and cost. The list goes on and on.
To help electric vehicle (EV) drivers find which ones are absolutely essential, I’ve put together a list of essential electric car apps every EV driver needs to have. Let’s take a look.
Essential Electric Car Apps:
Without a doubt, Plugshare is absolutely the most critical app to have in the EV app arsenal. More simply, Plugshare is a user-sourced map of EV chargers. No matter where you are, where you are going, or what electric car you have, Plugshare can help you find the nearest charger.
Even more, Plugshare provides critical information about each charging station. Here are the features:
- number of chargers
- charging network (Chargepoint, Tesla, EVgo)
- type of plug (J1772, CCS, ChaDeMo, Tesla)
- cost to charge
- user reviews
- navigation to the station
- speed of chargers (Level 2 or DCFC)
- nearby amenities
- and much more
As you can see, Plugshare provides so many helpful features. That is why it is one of the most important resources for new and experienced EV drivers. Take a spin of Plugshare in the map below (green are Level 2, orange are DCFC).
2. Manufacturer’s App (e.g. Chevy, Tesla, Hyundai)
Nearly all auto manufacturers make a companion app for their EVs. In general, these apps provide basic vehicle control such as locking/unlocking the doors, pre-conditioning the A/C, locating the vehicle using GPS, providing charging and battery state of charge status, and more.
The most deluxe is Tesla. In addition to the aforementioned list, the Tesla app can find nearby Tesla Superchargers, provide user and guest access to the car, utility Smart Summon, and download the latest Tesla software to the car (yes, Tesla’s have over-the-air software updates like iPhones).
The manufacturer’s apps can be found for free on both Apple and Android app stores.
3. A Better Route Planner
As the name suggests, A Better Route Planner (ABRP), is an app that helps electric car drivers find the most efficient way to plan their road trips. Specifically, this app is tailored for BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicle or “all-electric”) and not PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) since only BEVs utilize DC Fast Charging (DCFC). PHEVs, on the other hand, can use gas for extended drivers or road trips like traditional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine or “gas”) cars.
Since today’s EVs have a range of at least 200 miles (some nearly 400), road trips aren’t too difficult anymore. However, utilizing DCFC stations can be quite intimidating to the inexperienced.
New (and even experienced) EV drivers may not know when is the best time to charge, where are the DCFC stations located, or how long of charging is required. That is where ABRP steps in.
Simply select what EV you have, input your beginning and end location just like Google or Apple Maps, and let ABRP decide what is the most efficient way to go from A to B with charging in mind. ABRP will show you a driving route with recommended charging stops. Additionally, the app will break down approximately what level of battery you will have upon arrival, how long to charge, and estimated charging cost.
Furthermore, ABRP even allows users to define factors such as outdoor temperature, cargo load, wind, and driving speed since all of these play a role in driving efficiency.
4. Charging Network Apps (e.g. Chargepoint, Electrify America)
Each charging network (whether it’s Chargepoint, EVgo, or Electrify America) has its own app. Like Plugshare, this charging network app allows users to find charging stations, charger speed, charging costs, but of that network only. The real benefit of having the charging network app is to access and pay for charging and to see how many chargers are currently available at the charging station.
At a traditional gas station, you swipe your credit card and begin refueling. At electric car charging stations, you can either call customer service and pay over the phone, plug in and let the car handle payment (Tesla only), or manage all payment transactions through the app. At Electrify America stations, you can swipe your credit card if you prefer. For non-Tesla charging stations, accessing and paying for the charger via the app is by far the easiest method.
After registering your credit card information on the app, simply pull up to the charging stall, open the network app (it will locate the correct charging station and charger via GPS), swipe to initiate charging, and you’re done!
While charging, users can monitor cost, charging status, and estimated miles of range added from the app. This is quite helpful as typically EV drivers do not wait by their car while charging. Instead, EV drivers are free to grab a bite to eat or go shopping while charging.
Here are some popular networks Apple and Android apps:
- Chargepoint (Apple)
- Chargepoint (Android)
- Electrify America (Apple)
- Electrify America (Android)
- EVgo (Apple)
- EVgo (Android)
While this list is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the EV apps out there, I found these apps to be the most frequently used in my personal experience. For the vast majority of charging, it is done simply at home. Only a few times a month do I need to charge publicly.
With my Chevy Volt, I do not need to plan to charge on long road trips since my PHEV has gas for that purpose. It is nice, however, to charge at Level 2 chargers around town or while traveling as the driving experience is much better on electric than gas.
For any questions about these essential electric car apps, feel free to comment or contact me via email.
Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.