Having the right Smartphone apps installed can help ensure you have a smooth EV driving experience and make charging on the public network much easier. There are a whole host of apps available, so to help you navigate the app store we’ve rounded up some of the most useful apps to have. To keep things simple we’ve split them into three categories
It might sound obvious but your own car’s app is a great place to start. In our case that’s the Fordpass app and it is an excellent tool for getting the most out of your Ford vehicle. The app has handy features such as remote locking, remote start, a vehicle locator and security alerts to give you complete peace of mind. There are also live traffic alerts, local hazard information, car health alerts and the ability to contact roadside assistance should you ever need it.
For EV drivers the app has even more really useful extra features. There is a charger locator function and an EV trip planner, which can help you to plan your route including advice on where to charge along the way. This is especially useful on longer road trips in areas you are unfamiliar with. You can also use the app to check the driving range left on your vehicle and the status of your charge, meaning you can plug in and monitor remotely. You can also set it to alert you if charging stops for some reason!
There are numerous apps which claim to make life as an EV driver easier, we’ve picked three popular options that are regularly used by the EV community for inclusion on our list.
Zapmap is a free to download app available on IOS and Android. It’s marketed as the ‘UK’s leading EV charging app’ and aims to make the experience of finding and using a charger more simple. Zap Map claims to have 95% of current public charging points mapped and around 70% of them showing live data. This helps to make sure that you’re never driving to a charger that’s occupied or out of service.
In order to get the most out of the app you create an account and save details of your car make and model, this means you can ensure that you’re being shown chargers suitable for your car. It also means that when you use the app’s route planner feature it will show you charging points at locations which are within the estimate driving range of your vehicle.
The app has a search facility and a map showing chargers in the area you require and these are colour-coded by charger speed. Yellow icons are for slow chargers (<5kW), blue are fast chargers (7-22kW) and pink shows rapid chargers (43+kW). If there is more than one colour inside an icon then both charging speeds are available at that location.
You can also change the search options to filter chargers by category including connector type, charge point power, network and payment. At certain chargers you can also pay with ZapMap if you have registered a payment method in your account.
Users are encouraged to ‘check in’ when they charge at a location. In doing so they can contribute useful information such as adding photos of the location, information on any parking restrictions and also report if the charger is out of order.
The app is free to download and register for a basic account, however there are paid subscription options which allow you to go ad-free as well as register more vehicles, save more routes and connect to your car via Apple Car Play or Android Auto.
Plugshare is another commonly recommended app for EV drivers, it’s available on both IOS and Android and free to download. This app is similar in many ways to ZapMap as it allows users to search for charging points near them and includes the ability to search by charger type – very useful at those times when only a rapid charge will do! As with ZapMap one of the best features of this app is the additional information shared on it by the EV community about the charger locations. We’ve included it in our list in addition to ZapMap as PlugShare is well established throughout Europe as well as the UK, making it very useful for any international road trips you may be planning and you may find that you prefer the interface of one of these apps over the other.
NeedToCharge is another app that’s available on IOS and Android, it’s also free to use and unlike some of the others it doesn’t include any third party advertising which really helps with speed and useability. This app allows another driver to message you if they would like to use the charger that your car is plugged into but you aren’t in/around your vehicle. All they need to do is enter your numberplate on the app and you will receive a message notification.
This app is really useful for destination chargers in popular areas such as shopping centres, visitor attractions and even large workplaces. Users can respond to each other letting them know how long it will be until they are back or in some cases the driver may even be able to stop the charge remotely to allow the other driver to use the charger.
You can also download a small disk to print out and place on your window to let other EV drivers know you have signed up to use the app. Before this app became popular drivers may have left a note on their windscreen with a telephone number, the app is a good alternative for those who don’t want to publicly display a phone number.
Network apps allow access and payment for chargers on their network. In the UK there are currently several different public charging networks and you probably don’t want, or need, to download them all. Some other larger network operator apps that might be of use include Ionity, Instavolt, BP Pulse and PodPoint. Though for these it may be worthwhile seeing which providers you find yourself regularly using and only downloading their apps, to keep your smartphone a little less cluttered!
The only apps we would consider essential in this section would be the ChargeYourCar app or the Scottish equivalent which is ChargePlaceScotland. These apps will give you access to chargers on the ‘public network’ in the UK. This typically includes chargers that have been installed by local authorities, transport operators and community organisations. These apps are free to download and again the user would make an account and link a payment method to these in order to make payment at the charging points.
These apps often allow you to start and end charges using the app, however both ChargeYourCar and ChargePlaceScotland offer RFID cards for a small fee when you sign up for your account. It’s a good idea to get one of these for those rare occasions when digital technology may fail!
Do you have any other apps you would recommend for EV driving? Let us know on social media!
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