Switching your petrol or diesel car for an electric vehicle can feel like a brave move.
But while it might feel bold at first, owning an EV can be surprisingly simple. Especially with the wide choice of apps available to help you with EV ownership.
So why are these apps so useful? We’ve taken a look, and also named some the best ones available.
Help locate chargers
Unlike petrol stations, locating electric car charge points isn’t immediately obvious, with many public chargers being nestled away in car parks.
Although it can feel strange at first to look for a supermarket car park just to charge your car, the options available can actually make charging more convenient than petrol. And providing you have the right apps installed, these chargers are easy to find.
You can pick an app affiliated to a particular provider (Pod Point, for example), or one that can universally find you the nearest charger – like Zap-Map.
Some of these apps can tell you if chargers are in use, as well as any faults with them – saving you the effort of going to a charger you can’t use.
If you predominantly drive along the same route each day, or if you only make small journeys, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to use a route planner. However, if you intend to take longer journeys in your electric car, they can be very useful.
Route planners can help locate charging stations across the UK, taking the uncertainty out of long journeys by allowing you to pinpoint particular chargers you want to use along the route.
Apps from the manufacturer can also be extremely helpful. Many car firms are aware that EV ownership is likely to be new to drivers, so their apps tend to be very easy to use.
Whether you’re buying a used Nissan Leaf, a premium Tesla Model S or a new Vauxhall Corsa-e, you can be sure that the manufacturers will include a dedicated app. Some are more advanced than others, though all will tell you how many miles are left on the charge via your smartphone, along with the time it will take to charge. You can also use these apps to work out the best time to charge your car – particularly useful if you’re after the cheapest times.
What are the best apps available?
Many of us already use Google Maps for our journeys, whether driving, walking or cycling. But Google’s superb navigation service also has a dedicated ‘Electric Vehicle Charging’ page within the app. It easily shows you the locations of charging stations and tells you which connectors are available – including whether they’re rapid chargers, for example.
Given its entire focus is on electric cars, Zap-Map has more of a ‘community’ feel to it. One of its key benefits is the ability to review individual chargers, so you can easily find out how well each charging point works. It also allows you to filter chargers by the connector types, along with showing you if they’re publicly available – some chargers might be in hotel car parks, for example. It also shows which chargers are free to use.
Just like Google Maps, it’s free to use and is a must-have for any electric car owner.