New connected apps tackle range anxiety and public charging
At the GM Electrification Experience, OnStar is showing two new apps to address the possible range anxiety of electric vehicles and the cost of public charging.
Since the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle launched in late 2010, drivers have been able to manage vehicle charging, including the option to charge during off-peak hours through the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App. As GM expands its electric vehicle line-up next year with the 2014 Chevy Spark EV, more drivers will be able to manage and control electric-only functions from their phone.
Spark EV Waypoint tab
Because the Spark EV operates only on electricity, drivers will need to know if they can reach their destination on a single charge. The Spark EV Waypoint tab, which will be integrated into the RemoteLink app, can quickly determine that answer and plot a waypoint route with recommended charging stations if the route is beyond a single charge’s range.
“The Spark EV Waypoint tab aims to instill confidence in drivers who are not sure if they’ll be able to reach their destination on a single charge,” said Paul Pebbles, global manager, OnStar Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Services. “It’s also for drivers who know they’ll be traveling beyond a single charge range.”
Once the destination is selected, based on the distance and battery life, the app will use the distance and remaining battery life to tell the driver one of four things:
■ Destination is within the range of a single charge
■ Destination is within a single charge range, but the vehicle needs to be charged more before the driver begins traveling
■ Destination is further than a single charge range and requires a waypoint route
■ No waypoint route is available and destination is beyond vehicle range. Due to a lack of charging stations a waypoint route may not always be possible.
The app tells a driver how long a drive will be and how long it will take to charge the Spark at each stop, combining the two for total trip duration. In addition to mobile, the waypoint routing function will be available on GM Owner Center allowing directions to be sent online to a vehicle. Destinations will be stored in OnStar’s Virtual Advisor service.
OnStar plans to make the Waypoint App available for the launch of the 2014 Spark EV.
Park-Tap-Charge Prototype App
With more electric vehicles on the market, the demand for public charging will grow as will the need to know how much charging away from home will cost. Where cost is tied to public charging, a new prototype app will allow EV owners to simply tap their smartphone against a charging station, which will automatically show payment options that, once accepted, will initiate the flow of electricity. This prototype app is currently named Park-Tap-Charge.
“It’s all about transacting through the app to create a very connected vehicle experience,” said Pebbles. “This type of functionality contributes to an end-to-end solution for owners of the infrastructure and drivers.”
Prior to accepting payment, the app will show the hourly rate of charging, the estimated time for a full charge and the estimated cost of a full charge.
The app leverages Near Field Communication technology, a way of contactless payment being implemented in smartphones today. Using a signal sent from an NFC-enabled phone to a charge station with an embedded NFC tag, drivers can automatically initiate payment from a previously connected account by tapping their smartphone to the station.
The current version of the application is a concept and provides the base for driving a scalable and viable solution as more EVs hit the road.
OnStar’s Smart Grid research is made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy.