For electric vehicle (EV) owners, and shoppers who are considering becoming one, common concerns about owning an EV include finding a station at which to charge the vehicle, quickly paying for charging it and determining how far the vehicle can drive before needing another charge — especially under unusual circumstances such as when occasionally towing a trailer.
In recent weeks, automakers have rolled out solutions to these problems for the owners of their EVs — solutions that use software and connectivity to give drivers the information and capabilities they need.
Building a One-Stop Shop for Charging
To eliminate the hassle of using different apps to find and pay for charging stations owned by different operators, Volvo Cars announced in a May 19 press release that it is working to make its app a one-stop shop.
The app will enable the drivers of its EVs to find public charging stations from a variety of charging operators, get real-time information on the availability of the chargers, and then pay for the charging through one interface.
“Many of us are familiar with the frustration of having to navigate multiple apps and carrying multiple cards for different charging operators,” Olivier Loedel, head of electrification ecosystem at Volvo Cars, said in the release. “Our goal was to make life easier for our customers and remove one of the major barriers for customers to switch to an electric car.”
The automaker recently launched solutions in China and Europe that enable drivers of Volvo EVs to find and pay for charging at stations owned by several different operators. By the end of the year, it expects to roll out a new app in the United States that will enable finding and paying for a wider range of operators’ stations.
Using Other Vehicles’ Data to Calculate Range
To give customers confidence while towing, Ford announced in a May 2 press release that its Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup has been equipped with software that accurately estimates range.
Its cloud-connected Intelligent Range system uses data from numerous sources — including other Ford electric trucks that have pulled similar trailers under similar circumstances — to calculate the vehicle’s range in real-time conditions.
This is supplemented by an online mapping system into which drivers can enter information about their trailer and their destination. The system suggests the best route and shows any available charging stations.
Noting that many owners of the pickup will be first-time EV owners, Linda Zhang, chief engineer, F-150 Lightning at Ford, said in the release, “That’s why we created smart technologies to help take the worry out of towing long distances by giving customers more reliable and accurate range calculations, and then automatically locate charge points along the way, if needed.”
Reducing Range and Charging Anxiety
VinFast Automotive plans to bring its EVs to the U.S. later this year, and it will hit the ground running with a partnership that will make it easy for owners of the vehicles to pay to charge them.
The automaker announced in an April 13 press release that by working with charging network Electrify America, it will enable the drivers of its vehicles to set up their billing information on the VinFast app and then, when visiting that network’s stations, pay for a charging session by simply plugging in their EV.
“Through our premium, smart and environmentally friendly vehicles, our goal is to reduce range and charging anxiety and help the world switch to cleaner, more sustainable transportation,” Craig Westbrook, chief service officer of VinFast U.S., said in the release.
These solutions join others being offered by automakers, including a Toyota app that finds public charging stations, a Volvo and Starbucks pilot program that is installing chargers at 15 Starbucks locations, and a Kia pilot program that offered some customers no-cost access to an on-demand mobile charging service.
Read more: Automakers Partner With Third-Party Networks, Apps to Ease Electric Vehicle Ownership
The demand for such solutions is growing. EV sales in the U.S. doubled last year, with EVs accounting for 3% of vehicle sales, according to EV charging network EVgo.