When it comes to searching for a convenient and reliable place to charge an electric car, the PlugShare database, its associated website and smartphone apps have become the gold standard for plug-in owners around the world.
Offering a simple way for owners to check in at stations, report faulty units and add tips to help others find hidden-away units or find a decent cup of coffee while they charge, the PlugShare app has saved many a long-distance trip from disaster and helped thousands of plug-in owners plan better trips. Owned and operated by Recargo – a California software and service company focusing on electric car-related data services – PlugShare has all the in-house coding it needs to continually evolve and develop its user apps, as well as a team of advisors and employees that include recent-hire, Oregon’s former EV tzar Ashley Horvat, to ensure that needs of electric car drivers are always met.
Historically, PlugShare has focused on simply providing owners with a database of charging stations in or near a given location. This has mean those wanting to plan a road trip in an electric car needed to use other route-planning methods to get from charging station to charging station.
As GreenCarReports detailed yesterday, the firm has just updated its online and iOS apps to include route-planning functionality for the first time, making it possible for PlugShare users to plan a door-to-door trip for the first time with the service. (At the time of writing, there doesn’t appear to be an update for Android devices to include this functionality, although we presume one is on its way shortly.)
Given the various different types of electric car out there and the myriad of different plugs and connectors used to charge them up, the web app and smartphone apps come with a preference window that allows electric car owners to filter charging points by type, ensuring that only charging stations compatible with your car are shown.
There’s also a filter to let you see (or hide) charging stations based on payment methods or restricted access, as well as filters to disregard low-power charging stations, those currently in use, and residential charging stations added by other PlugShare users to the map.
In the U.S., users can also filter by charging provider, ensuring they’ll never turn up at a charging station without the correct charge card.
While we haven’t been able to test the new features of PlugShare in the wild, we can tell you that the route planning addition does appear to take a great deal of hassle out of planning a long-distance electric car trip. What’s missing — and something we’d appreciate in a future build — is the ability to filter stations by reliability.
Every time a PlugShare user checks into a site using the PlugShare App, they’re asked to state if they have charged successfully or not, giving the firm an unbiased, user-sourced reliability record for each site. As a consequence, each charging point on the PlugShare database is given a score out of ten based on the ratio of successful to unsuccessful charging sessions recorded by logged visitors to that site.
At the moment, users have to click on each individual location to see its reliability score, and the route-planning app will route you via a station regardless of that score and indeed the status of the most recent user check-in at that location. As a consequence, users should still double-check before leaving to ensure that the charging stations picked are all functional and reliable.
As with previous iterations of the PlugShare site and apps, users can register for the service for free, which gives you access to both the public database as well as the private listed database of other PlugShare users who have opted to share their home charging stations with others.
Have you tried the new route-planning features? Do they make EV trips easier to figure out? Or do you have a different way of getting from point A to point B?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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