2015 Nissan Leaf at evGo fast charger at Livingston Mall, Livingston, NJ [photo: John Briggs]
One way for electric-car charging networks to make the public charging experience more user-friendly is through the use of smartphone apps to replace the RFID cards that identify members and let them initiate charge sessions.
Not only do they provide electric-car drivers a host of capabilities, but they allow drivers to pay for charging sessions with a simple "swipe to charge" feature.
Late last month, charging network EVgo launched its first-ever smartphone application for electric-car owners after developing the app with its technology partner, Driivz.
The swipe-to-charge feature will likely be a major driving force for users to download the app, but other features too will make use of EVgo charging stations much easier.
EVgo says the app provides robust mapping to show drivers where the closest charging station is, or to locate a particular station.
Real-time usage info will show users which stations are unoccupied, and users can even set alerts for when a station is available.
Chevy Bolt EV fast-charging at EVgo station before trip across Maryland [image: Brian Ro]
Like most such apps, the EVgo application shows which stations are compatible with a particular electric car or plug type, and includes a charging timer to monitor the session's duration.
It also provides turn-by-turn navigation to get a driver from any location to the desired charging station.
For the swipe-to-charge feature, users simply need to "swipe to the right" in the app to begin a charging session.
For many users, that may be a major attraction: no access card, RFiD code, or fob of any sort has to be carried separately to access the EVgo network.
Many electric-car owners complain of the annoyance of having to enroll as a member in the multiple independent networks that run public charging infrastructure in the U.S.
Owners often need to carry multiple cards to ensure access to a number of different charging stations, which usually don't have credit-card readers like traditional fuel pumps.
EVGo ABB Charger
EVGo ABB Charger
Putting a single charging session onto a charge card may require making a toll-free call to an operator to initiate the charging session if a driver isn't a member of the relevant network.
And unlike the mobile-phone industry, which implemented nationwide roaming within five to 10 years after its launch, roaming efforts among charging networks appear to have failed.
ABB, a maker of charging stations, recently rolled out its own technology to make charging even easier: Autocharge.
That technology automatically starts the session and bills the owner after the Combined Charging System protocol communicates an EV-ID to the station when the driver plugs the vehicle in.
While a dozen or more companies offer electric-car charging in the U.S., EVgo's 980 stations constitute one of the largest fast-charging networks across the United States.
The EVgo app is available now for both Apple iOS devices and the Android operating system.