Electric-Car Road Trips: Be Prepared, With Charging Apps And Realism Page 2

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PlugShare iPhone app - 2014

PlugShare iPhone app - 2014

As our contributor Ben Rich, who’s made a long-distance trip on an electric motorcycle, emphasized: “To take a road trip in any electric vehicle, you need to plan ahead.”

Map it out—with some wiggle room

Considering that, you should map out your route with Web site tools from the major charger providers, like Blink and ChargePoint. And definitely consult PlugShare, which gives you tools to filter by type of charger. Make sure there’s enough wiggle room with your (lower) highway range.

At the same time, you can’t entirely count on chargers being ready the moment you arrive. In some regions, like the East Coast and Midwest, we’ve found that non-workplace charging stations remain lightly used, overall, while those on the West Coast—especially in California, and along the Electric Highway, where we recently traveled in Oregon and Washington—can be quite heavily used.

PlugShare includes valuable information on where to find chargers (sometimes at an unlikely corner of a parking lot), when they’re accessible, and when they were last used. And for some network chargers, you’ll see a live, to-the-minute update on whether they’re available or in use.

charging etiquette note - DC fast charger, Olympia WA

charging etiquette note - DC fast charger, Olympia WA

Speaking of that, some ChaDeMO chargers do allow you to keep going above 80 percent; but it’s slower going above that, so etiquette suggests you yield to anyone waiting when your charger hits that percentage. Some motorists, as we’ve seen, will actually leave notes permitting strangers to disconnect. And with charging networks now for the most part charging by the kWh rather than by the charge, it’s likely we’ll see more people ‘topping off’ rather than holding out for 100 percent.

Some models have an in-dash charger-finder

The Soul EV, as with some other EVs on the market, comes with its own in-dash charger-locating app. Hit the ‘EV’ button and you’ll get a quick summary of remaining capacity and range, special functions like charging times and climate-control preconditioning, and most importantly perhaps, an arrow showing you the distance and direction of the nearest publicly accessible charger.

2015 Kia Soul EV - charging and range information

2015 Kia Soul EV - charging and range information

With just a couple of clicks you can send it to the Soul EV’s navigation system and be routed there, turn-by-turn. It’s a slick interface. The one thing the Soul EV sorely needs in its interface is a clear distinction between Level 2 and Level 3 chargers. And it could really use some real time (or as close to it as is possible) data, as PlugShare features, telling EV drivers whether a charger is currently being used or not.

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