It Might Be the Only EV Charging App You Need
What even is an EV charging app? Why are these apps important? After all, with conventional, ICE-powered cars, you can drive anywhere without “making a plan.” The ubiquity of gas stations means that you can probably just wait until the needle approaches E and then think about looking for a station. If you want to save a bit of money, even basic planning done in your head will probably suffice. Using apps like GasBuddy to find the best prices is both optional and probably only saves you a few tens of dollars on the longest road trips.
EVs face a very different environment. We’ll probably get to the point where charging stations are everywhere and it’s hard to get stranded — but for now, we need a little help finding a charge when we’re in an unfamiliar place, and that’s when a good EV charging app can help!
In this article, I’m going to review an EC charging app called ChargeHub. More specifically, I’ll be reviewing a new feature called ChargeHub Passport, that allows a driver to activate and pay for charging within a single app.
Basic EV Charging App Requirements
The most important thing to an EV driver is that the app has all of the stations. Missing even one or two stations in an area, especially in rural areas where those are the only stations, means you can’t rely on the app and will have to use a competitor. So, that’s the first thing I checked out. I couldn’t find any missing stations.
While I was checking this out, I noticed something really cool about the icons. Instead of just marking where the stations are, they give status information when that information is available. Inside the marker is a small ring that can be different colors. If there are available stalls to charge up, it shows up green. If the stalls are taken up, it shows up red. When data isn’t available for the station, it shows up yellow. This basic scheme is just like a traffic light, and should be easy for most users to understand.
They also make it very, very clear when a station is down. Inside the icon, they put a large X. This is great because they don’t remove the location from the map, as it could come online again. But, it’s pretty clear that you can’t count on that station right now. This helps prevent strandings because you don’t have to click on the station to see its rating or status. It’s right there on the map.
Another great thing about the map is that it offers simple charging information with the main color of the marker. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel or use SAE terminology, they use common EV driver categories for stations. There’s Level 1 stations (light blue), Level 2 stations (dark blue), and Level 3 stations (yellow). I know some users want more variation for DCFC stations or think SAE is the king of the world (and that Level 3 charging isn’t a proper term), but this app sticks with laymen’s terms to be accessible instead of trying to please the pedants or do something pointlessly innovative.
Like most comparable apps, ChargeHub charging station app offers lots of filtering and options. You can tell it to only show certain types of plugs on the map to match your car, tell it which charging networks you want to see on the map, and tell it whether to exclude things like ports that aren’t open 24/7, paid and free ports, and under construction stations.
While they put the most important information on the map itself, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more details available if you click on the station. Pricing, number of ports available, user reviews, and photographs are all available. There’s also live chat support and phone support available for users.
Another cool feature is that you can use ChargeHub to activate and pay for charging at most charging stations. At this stage, you cannot use this feature to charge at all public charging stations, but a lot of stations are available. In fact, on their website, they claim that over 60,000 charging ports can be activated and paid for via your single ChargeHub account. The networks I noticed to be compatible include ChargePoint, Shell Recharge, EVolve NY, Electric Circuit, SemaConnect, EV Smart, COOP Connect, Zef Energy. There might be more but I couldn’t find the complete list. The big one missing from this feature is Electrify America, but almost everything else seems to be covered. This feature, called ChargeHub Passport, can help you keep your charging money mostly in one place so you’re not getting charges from all of the different providers on your debit or credit card.
On the map, you can spot which locations are ChargeHub Passport compatible from the icon that has an orange lightning bolt instead of gray. Once you open the details of the location, you’ll also notice a big Start Charging button which is an indicator the station can be activated.
They didn’t leave Tesla drivers out, either. If that’s you, you can view the ChargeHub map in your infotainment screen by looking up in your browser tesla.chargehub.com. From there, you can start a charge directly from the screen, making third party chargers almost as easy as a Supercharger!
What This App Needs To Be Even More Useful
The biggest thing I think could improve for ChargeHub isn’t really the app’s fault. It’s got a really clean and easy to use interface, and it’s chock full of charging data, but user data like photos and reviews is pretty sparse compared to other apps. But, that’s something we as EV drivers are in charge of. What the app needs is more users, but they’re all ready to go.
The app has a trip planner of sorts, but it’s very basic. You give it a route, and it shows stations along the route. While this is a useful feature, it doesn’t really give you any idea of whether you’d actually be able to get from one station to the next, factoring in things like speed, terrain, and how much you’d need to charge. You can add stops to the trip manually, but there’s a lot of room for improvement on this aspect of the app.
For now, you’ll need to use a more robust trip planning app in conjunction with ChargeHub unless you have a Tesla.
The ChargeHub app really does offer a lot for an EV driver. The map is certainly one of the most complete and easy-to-use and the ChargeHub Passport feature is already useful to limit the number of apps needed where you have money stuck on. With some little changes, this could be the only app you’ll ever need. Other than trip planning, the biggest thing this clean app needs is us. With more user input, this app would greatly increase in usefulness. Everything else is ready to go and seems to work well.
About ChargeHub by Mogile Technologies Inc.
Founded in 2013, ChargeHub by Mogile Technologies Inc. is a community-driven electric vehicle (EV) platform with the mission to improve the customer experience (CX). The platform offers a suite of charging solutions that drive lasting performance improvement in EV adoption and infrastructure deployment. One of its solutions, the ChargeHub app, leverages the contributions of its EV community to enable transparency in the reliability and accessibility of public charging stations on the North American continent. More recently, ChargeHub launched its Passport Hub interoperability solution enabling CPOs and eMSPs to interoperate seamlessly through a single business/legal/technical framework. Today, over 60,000 charging ports in the US and Canada are interoperable through the Passport Hub. For more information, visit www.chargehub.com.
This article is supported by ChargeHub.
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