EV-charging seems like the easiest thing in the world, at first. After all, don’t most people just charge their cars at home overnight? That’s true, but many drivers also need to find charging stations while out on the road. That’s where EV-charging apps can be of great help.
EV-charging apps make drivers’ lives easier by helping them locate compatible and available charging stations nearby. That can be particularly useful when driving cross-country or in an unfamiliar city. Some apps also facilitate payment and provide you with user feedback about the station’s services.
This article will help you understand what features you can expect from an app like this and which one we feel is the best.
Let’s get started.
How Do EV-Charging Apps Work?
EV-charging apps are just like any other smartphone app that you already have on your device. They pack a long list of features to make your EV-charging experience as painless and seamless as possible.
Sure, most people charge their EVs at home where an app isn’t needed. However, you’ll find these apps particularly useful when you leave the house and need to find a charging station somewhere out of town or when travelling long-distance.
Common Features of EV-charging Apps
The exact list of features you get will differ between apps. Still, there are a few standard features you can expect, like:
- Directions to compatible charging stations nearby or at your destination
- Current occupancy of those stations (i.e., which ones are full or have space for your car)
- Photos and customer feedback about those charging stations
- Payment information or facilities (for charging stations that require payment)
Having one of these apps on your phone can be a lifesaver, especially when you drive to a place where you’re unfamiliar with EV-charging facilities and their locations.
Do I Need an App to Charge My Car?
No, you don’t need an EV charging app like PlugShare, ChargeFox, or any other to charge your electric car. What they do is reduce the pain points that you and other EV owners experience while out on the road.
Here are just a few challenges faced by EV drivers that these apps can help with:
- Hard-to-find charging stations: No matter how widespread EVs are today, the number of charging stations is still relatively low compared to petrol stations. So, they’re harder to find, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar town or city. EV-charging apps show you where all of them are.
- Crowding: Fewer charging stations also means more crowding. That problem is even worse because EVs take longer to charge. So unlike at a petrol station where cars fill and go within minutes, you can expect the EV before you to occupy that space for at least 30 minutes before you can have your turn.
- Compatibility: Few charging stations lead to crowding, so what could be worse? Well, then there’s compatibility issues. For example, Tesla drivers need to make sure that the charging station is compatible with their EV, and that’s where a charging app can help. With the app, you will know which stations are nearby and which ones you can use.
- Quality: Some charging stations are better than others and for various reasons. EV-charging apps also offer user reviews and photos that you can scroll through to decide which one you’ll want to visit. Remember: charging takes time, so you’ll want a station with decent toilets or other facilities to use while you wait.
Is There One App for All EV Charging Stations?
Yes, there’s one app for various EV charging stations. So, you see, not all apps cater to different EV charging service providers. One way to look at EV-charging apps is either proprietary or generic.
When we say proprietary, we refer to EV-charging apps that only include charging stations from a particular service provider.
An excellent example of that is ChargeFox. This service provider has a network of at least 1,400 plugs all over Australia, and this app will guide you to all these stations. As already mentioned, the ChargeFox app won’t show charging stations owned by other providers.
The second type of apps are the generic ones. They list charging stations regardless of who owns them, and an excellent example would be PlugShare.
What Is the Best EV Charging App in Australia?
Our pick for the best EV-charging app in Australia is Google Maps. Yes, the Google Maps app you already know and love, also has additional features to help EV drivers get their cars charged up.
There are two reasons we think this app is the best choice for EV drivers regardless of their vehicle make or model: its familiarity and functionality.
EV Drivers are familiar with Google Maps
All the top EV-charging apps are fantastic and user-friendly in their own way. Still, nothing beats an app, or even better, an ecosystem that you've already been using for a long time.
Google Maps is already a staple for many of us. But, even if it isn’t, you’re likely familiar with Google’s platforms or other apps.
Because of that, learning Google Maps as your preferred EV-charging app will take almost no time and involve no learning curve whatsoever.
In simpler terms: the chances are high that your phone already has Google Maps, and you know how to use it very well.
Nothing beats Google Maps’ functionality
Of course, it’s not enough to have an app that’s easy to use – its functionality is as crucial.
Thankfully, Google Maps comes packed with several useful features for EV drivers.
As you’d expect, the app helps you locate charging stations and narrow them down based on cost, connection type, and charging speed.
That’s not all. The app helps you estimate your battery levels by the time you arrive at the charging station and locate other charging stations along your route to your destination.
What more could you ask for?
Other EV Charging App Worth Trying
Google Maps and PlugShare are two of the best, but here are two more that you may want to try:
- ChargeFox: It’s true that Chargefox is proprietary, but it runs the largest EV-charging network in Australia, and they’ve tailored this app for that network. If you’re a part of the network or want to use it, this app will hold everything you need for a seamless transaction.
- EV Connect: This charging app is heavy on features and leads you to charging stations from many different providers.
Browse the blog at CarPart AU to learn more about driving and owning an electric car.
By Ray Hasbollah