As smartphones increased in prominence, the way we drive changed drastically as well. Drivers gained access to apps that promoted efficiency while driving. Apps like GasBuddy were used to let drivers know not only where the nearest gas station was, but where they could find the cheapest gas. But while this is very beneficial to drivers that use gas to fuel their cars, what about drivers with electric cars?
Charging Electric Cars
Electric cars are beneficial to the environment because, as their name indicates, they operate on electricity. But like any fuel source, the car will eventually run low on fuel. For drivers that go on short trips with their cars, this is not an issue. In these cases, drivers are able to charge their cars every night and have a full charge by morning. For daily trips to work or weekend trips to the store, this is perfect.
But what happens when the owner of an electric car wants to take a longer trip? The premise is the same for them as it is for drivers of conventional gas-powered cars. They can start the trip with a full charge, or a full tank of gas, but eventually, they will reach “Empty.” What then? For drivers of gas-powered cars, the answer is simple. They find a gas station, refuel, and continue on their way.
For electric car owners, they’ll need to find a tool charging station that allows them to plug in and co-charge their vehicles. Although electric cars have become more popular throughout the country, finding a station that provides an electric charge is not nearly as easy as finding a gas station.
Think about it. While driving on the highway, you’ll see road signs every mile indicating if there is a gas station or not. But when’s the last time you’ve seen a road sign for an electric charging station? These drivers are definitely at a disadvantage, which is why an app like Plugshare can prove to be so beneficial.
What is PlugShare?
PlugShare streamlines the ability for electric car drivers to find charging stations. Some companies that own charging stations, such as Blink, have their own app that drivers can use to find public charging stations. Only a handful of these companies include competitor charging stations on their apps. ChargePoint, for example, is a company that does so.
But one of the only ways to ensure you’ll be able to see all of the public charging stations in your area is by using a third-party app, which is what PlugShare is. The PlugShare app is available for electric car drivers around the world.
PlugShare operates on a crowd-sharing basis. It is similar to apps such as Waze in that it requires user inputs to be successful. Those that download the app become a part of a social network, comprised exclusively of electric vehicle owners. The app displays three types of stations
- High Power
That’s right, PlugShare shares residential locations. These locations are shared by fellow PlugShare members. Essentially, if you were in a bind and needed to charge your car, a PlugShare member would open their (garage) doors and welcome you into their home. It’s this sense of community that allows the PlugShare app to be successful and is particularly important for those that own electric vehicles.
Imagine visiting St. Louis and driving an electric rental car. After a day of exploring the sights, you realize that your car’s fuel supply is drained. As someone who typically doesn’t drive an electric car, you’re not used to checking the fuel supply meter. What do you do? It’s not like you can use “Google Maps St. Louis” to find a charging station! The PlugShare app will be able to help you out in a pinch.
The PlugShare directory currently contains approximately 84,000 charging stations in the United States and Canada and nearly 193,000 charging stations elsewhere in the world. The number of charging station inputs is what sets PlugShare apart from other charging station locator apps, as it provides the most complete listing available.
However, it’s the social network experience that allows the app to shine. Drivers are able to access a database of nearly a million reviews from fellow electric car drivers, ranging from general advice to tips about specific locations.
There are also 190,000 photos in this database, with that number growing every day as more users input information into the app. This is extremely beneficial, especially if a driver is stuck in an area they are unfamiliar with and are in need of assistance.
If a driver has a problem with a particular charging station, they can search the app for help. Of course, if it’s a new problem, it’s recommended drivers input current information into the app so that the problem will be fixed or other drivers will know to avoid the charging station in the future.
The company has indicated that a majority of drivers who purchase an electric vehicle sign up for the PlugShare app almost immediately. PlugShare has also continued to grow their brand by becoming the official EV charging station locator for both the MyFord Mobile app and the Nissan No Charge to Charge Program.
How to Use PlugShare
Users can either use the PlugShare App or can visit their website at plugshare.com. The app is available for download from both the Google Play and Apple stores. The app is free to download and has nearly a five-star rating in both stores. It is ranked “#1 EV Charger Map and Community” in the Apple Store.
When visiting the website, you’ll be prompted to set up a new account, log in to your existing account, or continue without an account. With an account, you’ll be able to save previous locations so that they are easily accessible in the future. Additionally, an account allows you to add stations to the database, including both public locations and home charging stations.
The app and website will both display the highest-rated stations in your area, according to user reviews. Drivers are able to see user reviews immediately so that they can easily navigate to their location. The app also displays when the last update was on a location, which allows drivers to see charging station availability in real-time.
The app will work no matter what model electric vehicle you own. You can filter stations based on your vehicle type, helping ensure that you won’t navigate to a location that is incompatible with your vehicle. You can also filter your preferences based on the station type and charging network.
PlugShare is also currently working on a trip planning feature on their site. This will allow their users to plan future trips based on where charging stations are. This will be an effective tool that should not only continue to set PlugShare apart from other apps but should help their users avoid crisis situations on the road. Drivers will not be nearly as fearful of not being able to find an emergency charging station.
Payments with PlugShare
PlugShare has also been working to make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to make various payments for their cars.
The PlugShare Store offers nearly everything an electric vehicle driver needs besides the car itself. The store primarily offers deals on various EV charging stations. Many of the chargers available in the store are for residential use. This is likely done not only in an effort to assist their users but to help expand their database of users as well.
If a driver purchases an EV charging station for the PlugShare store, there’s a good chance that they’ll be willing to offer it as a residential charging station for other PlugShare users. The bigger the PlugShare network, the more likely it is that both electric cars and the app itself succeed.
To help build this brand, PlugShare has also included various merchandise in their store. Customers can purchase stickers, clothing, and other gear to help promote the PlugShare brand.
Pay with PlugShare
Much like pumping gas, electric car drivers have to pay for their charging sessions. This process is simple when using Pay with PlugShare in the app. Drivers can use their PlugShare mobile app to pay for charging sessions directly. This feature should work at any charging station that is compatible with Pay with PlugShare, which currently consists of SemaCharge and GE WattStation charging networks.
Drivers are not committed to any membership fees, commitments, recurring billing plans, or balances. There are no service fees for the driver, nor are there any service fees for the station owner. Instead, drivers simply pay for the time spent charging and can then continue on their way. Drivers are also able to monitor their charging session on their PlugShare app.
The Pay with PlugShare app can be trusted, as payments are processed securely. The feature works with all major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.