An electric car is really a computer on wheels. Its enormous digital brain lets you know how much charge is in the battery, how many miles you’ve got left until you need to top up and, when you reach a charging point, how long it will take to re-energise your battery. As with all digital technology, to get the most from your electric car, you need apps. We round up some of the best apps to make your EV driving experience even more enjoyable.
Download the app designed for your car
First things first - whatever the make and model of your car, download the app designed by your vehicle’s manufacturer. It’s been built specifically to help you make your life as an EV owner much easier and to help you enjoy all the aspects of your shiny new car.
Car apps also help you remotely manage your vehicle and control many of the most frequently used features directly from your smartphone. For example, the Nissan Leaf app lets you:
● Check the state of your battery’s charge without having to get into your car
● Start charging your car remotely
● Check when battery charging will be complete
● See an estimate of your car’s driving range
● Turn the climate control system on or off so your vehicle's at the perfect temperature when you get in
There are two other types of app you’ll need: ones that help you find places to charge and those that help you use charging points and pay for your electricity use.
Apps that help you find electric vehicle charging points
This free, global, not-for-profit provides a public registry of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging locations. It’s regularly recommended by EV drivers because it’s kept well up to date by fellow electric car motorists who have a vested interest in being able to access accurate data. Available for Android, Apple and as a web app, OpenChargeMap stands out because it allows you to filter charging points by any kWh speed so you can build your preferred speed of charging into any journey. You can also be part of the community by adding missing charging points - something you could end up doing regularly as the UK’s charging network expands at speed.
One of the most downloaded EV apps on the Playstore, ZapMap’s free app receives virtually real-time feeds from many of the UK’s charging networks. This means it will provide you with accurate information about which charging points are free, which are being used and those that are out of action, so you can plan your journey with maximum efficiency. Backed up by a brilliant website with tonnes of resources, ZapMap’s free app is a solid EV owner download.
You’re on a road trip in your electric car and you want to book somewhere to stay with a charging point. The EV Hotels app costs £1.99 and provides you with access to online maps which include public and hotel charge points around the world. Making it easy to find somewhere to stay where you and your car can recharge your batteries.
Apps that help you use charging points
According to a survey by ZapMap, three charging point providers - Tesla, InstaVolt and PodPoint - were voted the best charging network providers in the UK. So we decided to review their apps safe in the knowledge that they’re worth a download.
Only available to those who own a Tesla, this app is a must-have for Tesla drivers. Not only does it help you make the most of your vehicle but it connects you to the Tesla Supercharger network. Enter a destination on your car’s touchscreen, stop at the Supercharger that’s automatically planned into your route. Grab a coffee and wait for your app to notify you when your car’s ready to go.
Billed as the UK’s simplest and most transparent charging app, InstaVolt helps you access their single, fixed-price network which charges 35p per KWh. Use the app to locate the nearest charging point then tap your contactless card on the front of the machine, plug in and start charging.You’ll only pay for what you use and there’s no difference in cost whether you’re in the south east or the north east.
The PodPoint app helps you find a charging station and then pay for your electricity. Similar to paying for your parking using an app, you plug your EV in, search for the closest Pod Point in the app using its unique name and then click ‘confirm charge’ to start juicing your battery. Once you’re ready to roll, disconnect your charging cable and settle up via the app. There’s no subscription, just pay for the electricity you use.
New tax breaks make it more cost-effective than ever to drive an electric car. Take a look at the latest makes and models available at Tusker.