ChargePoint adds wait-list feature for electric-car charging stations


2014 BMW i3 REx fast-charging at Chargepoint site, June 2016  [photo: Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx fast-charging at Chargepoint site, June 2016 [photo: Tom Moloughney]

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Public charging infrastructure for electric cars is still fairly limited compared to gas stations.

That leaves many electric car drivers in certain areas vying for relatively few stations—which can create friction.

But network operator ChargePoint is rolling out a feature it believes will help streamline the process and increase station utilization.

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Earlier this month, the company launched Waitlist, which allows users to create a virtual queue for its charging stations.

Electric-car drivers can now reserve a time slot to charge without having to physically lurk around a station and wait for an opportunity to pull their cars in.

This is done by tapping a ChargePoint card on the station's RFID reader, or using a smartphone app.

Electric-car charging stations at Target in Fremont, CA [photo by Wilson F. via ChargePoint Network]

Electric-car charging stations at Target in Fremont, CA [photo by Wilson F. via ChargePoint Network]

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When a driver is done charging—or reaches a time or energy limit set by the station operator—the next driver in line is notified to move their car to the station.

Drivers can defer to the next person in line is they become busy.

The Waitlist feature can also add drivers to the queue at a given charging station automatically each day.

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ChargePoint claims this feature is the first of its kind for public charging stations, and launched it after encouraging results from a limited trial run.

It found that Waitlist boosted station utilization by 20 percent on average, and 45 percent at particularly busy stations.

An average of 500 drivers queued up at stations on any given day during the trial program, and all received "adequate" charging, according a ChargePoint press release said.

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

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Drivers reported that Waitlist helped alleviate the "stress and tension of sharing stations," the company claims.

ChargePoint plans to make the Waitlist feature available at all of its stations.

MORE: ChargePoint, EVgo electric-car charging networks get more investment

That includes a recently-completed network of 95 CCS DC fast-charging stations on major East Coast and West Coast corridors, built in concert with BMW and Volkswagen.

The stations were built to make DC fast charging available to drivers of the two German automakers' electric cars on heavily-traveled routes in those regions.

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