📱 Key Features of the Application for Charging Electric Vehicles
📬 How to Receive Real-Time Data from the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
⚙️ Tech Stack to Create an EV Charging App
🗃 Case study: DeftPower
Nowadays, the electric vehicle market is developing faster and becoming an affordable mode of transportation for any driver. This is not only a convenient and comfortable way to travel but also an environmentally friendly, economical vehicle.
Elon Musk, the owner of the well-known Tesla electric automobiles company and Tesla Supercharge stations, once said:
I seriously believe that in 30 years the majority of cars produced in the USA will be electric. And I'm not talking about hybrid electric vehicles, but all-electric vehicles.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors
We can't predict the future, but Fortune Business Insights published a research report and by 2028 the market for charging stations will be estimated at about $111.90 billion. And the average annual growth rate is 30.26%. In addition to the growing availability of EV charging networks around the world, there is a demand to develop an online app for mobile devices that will help EV owners:
During the development of EV charging station app, you may encounter problems such as how to create a map of charging stations, how to track the status and charge level of an electric car, or how to receive real-time data from the charging station. And in this article, we’ll explain in detail all the necessary information that’s useful for creating your mobile apps. Let’s start!
What are the main features that you should keep in mind when developing an EV charging app? We have collected all the useful information that will help you make your charging station business more successful. Read on!
Let the car owner see all EV charging points on the map. Thanks to this feature, the driver will be able to see and find EV charging stations in his city or country and feel more confident when building a route.
An example of how to display a map in EV charging station finder app (image by By Elinor Weiss)
The map can be made a bit interactive. In addition to the usual charging station icons, add indications if the charging station is busy, if it is working (red or green illuminated), and if there are free places to charge.
Booking a place at the electric car charging station allows the driver to take a certain time to use the charging station and the right connector.
Often, EV charging app developers confuse the concept of booking and reservation. The main difference between these two options is that booking allows you to book a seat at the station in the future (in a couple of days or weeks) and reservation - the ability to take a seat at the station after a short period of time. For example, a driver is driving around the city, found in the application the nearest charging stations, and reserves it so that no one would take it during the journey to the destination.
You can add both features to your station finder app or choose one. When choosing the booking function, be aware of the problem that may arise and slow down stations. Sometimes EV drivers book a station several times in a row for their convenience. Half of this time the station is free and also not available to other users. An excellent solution would be to automatically vacate the station if the driver did not arrive in the first 15-20 minutes of the booking time.
Despite the fact that electric vehicles have been on the market for about 10 years, there’s no single standard for charging plugs. For example, in Europe, Mennekes and CHAdeMO are more common, and in America, CCS Combo and SAE J1772. Thus, the ability to find and select a suitable power plant right in the application is an important feature of electric car charging applications.
There are a few key attributes that car owners expect to see in the app when looking for a charging station. These are:
Type of EV charging stations
• AC (alternative current)
• Tesla Supercharge
• Nearby EV charging station
Except for the filters mentioned above, you may add a filter that will cut off all the electric charging stations that don’t match car’s requirements.
Imagine the situation: an electric car driver has a long road of thousands of kilometers. Of course, they need to think over their entire route in advance, taking into account nearby charging stations, so as not to stay at night in the middle of the road with a discharged car.
Building a route in EV сharging apps is slightly different from building a route on a regular car. In addition to calculating the time to the next charging station, it is important to remember a few other features of an EV: vehicle data, battery wear, air temperature, weather, and altitude. All this affects battery life and is taken into account when building a route to the nearest charging station. You also need to take into account traffic jams, the occupancy of a particular station and the charging speed of an electric car.
In order to implement this feature in your charging station finder app, you can use various APIs, such as the Geopify Routing API to help you add this feature quickly and easily.
Users always prefer apps that give them comprehensive information about EV charging station amenities as it helps them to make the right choices. At the same, it’s important not to overload the screen. So how do you keep the balance?
Demonstrative case of how to add all the important information about the charging station (image by PAHRI)
The basic information may include:
Additionally, you can enhance this feature with an advanced UX. For example, draw or animate a charging station, add real photos, enable adding stations to "Favorites" or share them with others. We also recommend adding a button that will immediately turn on the navigation to the station.
The ability to monitor the charging status of electric cars will greatly simplify the lives of car owners. The user can calculate their time and drink coffee with friends while charging.
What should be displayed on the charging status screen? First of all, this is the time until the car is fully charged. Other important points are the cost of charging, and the amount of energy received. Some of the mobile apps also provide the ability to set a charging limit and automatically stop charging when it’s reached.
Main indicators on the charging status screen (image by PAHRI)
To implement this feature, open protocols are used that ensure uninterrupted data exchange between the charging station and the EV. These protocols are supported by the Open Charge Alliance (OCA) global platform and the EVRoaming Foundation. Keep reading as we’ll tell you more about the ways to receive real-time data from the electric vehicle charging stations later!
Based on the charging sessions of an electric vehicle, the user can analyze the amount of energy consumed and calculate the charging costs for a certain period (a week, month, or year). After analyzing all the data, the EV station finder app can calculate the amount of money saved compared to fuel cars, and once again prove the advantage of electric vehicles.
Web service Kayako published statistics in which 41% of application users prefer to seek help in online chat. This is more convenient for both the user and the support manager. It's much faster to get help via the app's chat rather than via email or call.
Live chat statistics (from Kayako web service)
There are different ways to support customers: real-time or chatbot. Based on common questions, the chatbot can quickly provide the necessary information, and if the client has a more complicated problem, then the operator connects and helps to solve it.
Moreover, you can add an FAQ section to your app. There you can cover the most typical questions your users may have, like how to connect to a charging station or pay for a charge. Thus, users will be able to deal with some questions on their own, reducing the workload for your support managers.
Integrating a payment gateway into your EV charging station app is a very important and necessary thing. It’s better to provide users with as many payment options as possible: pay with a debit/credit card, PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, EWallets, UPI, cryptocurrency, etc.
Any payment provider has its own software development kit (SDK) and all the necessary information about the integration of the payment method. All you have to do is to ask your development team to implement it.
Here you can compare the capabilities of popular payment systems:
Push notifications are an essential feature of any application. With their help, car owners can get status updates (battery charge, pending payments, etc.), news, and personalized offers. In some apps, push notifications are quite aggressive, sending a bunch of unnecessary information and reminders. Therefore, it’s very important to set them in a way that contains only useful information and doesn’t distract by the frequent vibration of the smartphone.
You can add the ability for the user to customize push notifications. For example, send alerts when the electric car is fully charged or charged to a certain percentage, when there is an EV charging station nearby, and so on.
This is the most EV-charging-specific part of the app. To communicate with the commercial charging stations by different charge point operators (CPOs) you’ll need to use a communication protocol, a popular example of which is Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). Using it, you’ll have a unified communication interface between specific charge stations and your backend.
To give you an idea of how this works, you can have a look at the following diagram:
The process of data exchange between the network management system, the charging station, and the electric vehicle (image from LeewayHertz)
As you can see, charging stations use a charging protocol (OCPP in this case) to send data to the network management system, or an eRoaming network.
However, if you don’t want to build a network management system from scratch, you can already use some of the existing solutions, such as Hubject.
Here we have tried to collect for you useful technical tools that will help in the development and release of your application:
Deftpower is a white-label EV charging platform, that we at Stormotion helped to create an EV charging app for. The app has most of the common features: maps with charge points, the ability to start a charging session via the app and link a way to pay for it, as well as the ability to see charging history.
The app provides a great example of clean minimalist design with a focus on the UX:
Shots from the Deft Power app
From the technical point of view, the app uses React Native, Redux, and Redux-Saga, as well as SignalR to make a subscription to the backend to get real-time updates from the charge points during the sessions.
Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly popular means of transportation, so develop an EV charging app is a good idea for both a business and a startup.
For those who have their own EV charging station business, it’ll help to attract new customers and make charging more convenient for existing ones. And those who want to create an EV charging aggregator app, will be able to develop a demanded product for a rapidly growing charging network market.
Let’s sum up the main aspects of EV charging station app development:
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