Preparing to buy an electric vehicle?
Unlike most traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs typically require a few essential applications installed on your smartphone, set up and ready ideally before you hit the road.
Here are the top five free apps you need to have for your EV.
While charging at home is the most convenient and cost effective way to recharge your EV, it might be impossible at your dwelling or sometimes you just want a convenient top-up while on the go.
So, it’s important to pre-emptively have the charging providers’ apps in your area installed, have an account signed up and enter payment information before you head to a public AC or DC charger – and prevent avoidable hassle or stress.
Crucially, they also indicate whether a charging stall or entire hub may be out of order, the rate of charging costs (per kW), their maximum AC/DC output, and whether you need to bring your own Type 2 to to Type 2 cable to use AC stations.
The most common EV charging providers in Australia is Chargefox with a wide-reaching network from Perth to Port Douglas comprised of more than 250 sites and 1900 plugs at 22kW to 350kW speeds, while Evie Networks has around 60 stations with 50kW to 350kW capabilities along the east coast in partnership with organisations like Ampol, Puma Energy and McDonalds.
Other charging providers include Jolt, which provides free limited charging, and EVUp.
Using public EV chargers requires the smartphone app with an internet connection to activate the session; however, some providers allow users to request a physical RFID tap card once signed-up.
PlugShare (iOS/Android/website) is a globally recognised free app to easily find local public EV charging stations on a map, review, check-in to locations and even direct message other EV owners if you’re waiting for their spot.
It’s a community-driven, crowd-sourced app that allows users to rate a public EV charger, share their personal experiences, and contribute photos like Google Maps to better understand a charger’s location.
Charging stations are shown as pins on a map, which are sourced from a mix of charging providers, businesses and users. Orange pins indicate level 3 DC fast chargers and there are filters to sort by charging connector type, Tesla Superchargers, amenities like bathrooms and more.
Importantly, through the contributions of users, it tells you whether the charging station may be out of order or faulty, the plug types available, their AC/DC output speeds and more.
The PlugShare app is also compatible on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so finding and navigating to a nearby charger can be safely operated on the vehicle’s infotainment itself.
A Better Routeplanner
If you’re embarking on a long road trip that’s beyond your electric driving range limit, A Better Routeplanner or ABRP (iOS/Android/website) allows EV drivers to plan their charging stops along the route to the destination.
By selecting variables like your EV model, departure state of charge (SoC) and preference for fewer or more stops, ABRP calculates the DC charging stops needed, estimates what remaining SoC you’ll arrive with, and how long you need to stop to charge before heading off to the next stop or destination.
There’s also a premium subscription option that accounts for live weather, real-time traffic, enables an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto app with a built-in navigation function, use live SoC data from the vehicle using a compatible OBD dongle or built-in Android Automotive systems, and more.
Essentially, ABRP is similar to the built-in Android Automotive Google Maps found on the Polestar 2, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Renault Megane E-Tech or Tesla’s navigation system that intelligently maps out the charging stops needed for a long distance trip – but is designed for all EV models.
Connected vehicle remote
Carmakers are increasingly embedding built-in cellular connectivity in vehicles to enable smartphone remote vehicle apps.
Connected vehicle smartphone apps are particularly useful for EVs as owners can precondition the climate control before entering the car, check the SoC, set charge limits and charging time periods remotely, as well as lock/unlock doors, check the vehicle’s location, sound the panic alarm and more.
While there’s fewer brands in Australia that offer app connectivity due to a lack of infrastructure compared to other countries, the list is starting to grow.
As at publication the following apps are available:
This isn’t an app per say (although there might be on the way ?! 😕) and more of a shameless plug, but online resources and publications like zecar allows new and existing EV owners to expand your knowledge and even find the right new model for you.
For example, we offer an expanding database full of the key EV specifications and statistics you need to know and compare models, an EV match tool to shortlist zero tailpipe models based on your needs, a dedicated charging costs calculator, and a personalised total cost of ownership calculator.
This is in addition to our handy news, reviews and guides including:
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide for Electric Cars
- The Electric Car Dictionary
- Everything you need to know about Australian government EV Incentives
- What should you consider when buying an electric car?
- Electric car mythbusters
- How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
- Watt is bidirectional charging, V2G, V2H, V2L?
- Electric Car Home Charging Guide
- 5 best EV Charging Networks in Australia
- Why should you import an electric car in Australia?
In most mobile web browsers, you can add websites as a shortcut to your home screen for quick access.
There’s also a range of other local and international publications, plus EV owner groups on Facebook and forums online to help in your electric car transition, buying and ownership journey.
Figures by Danny Thai
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