EV drivers shouldn’t have to understand kilowatts—or drive up to a dead charger. Chargeway has an answer for all that.
The Chargeway EV charging app may still be the best electric-car idea you’ve never heard of. Not as well-known or as widely distributed as Plugshare or A Better Route Planner (ABRP), it remains among the most graphically intuitive and best-attuned to EV drivers’ needs.
While more EV makers have built Tesla-style routing and charging software into their navigation systems, a surprising number don’t have it—and even fewer have it to the degree that EV drivers may need. One example: A certain maker has added more specific routing among charging stations to its EVs via an over-the-air update. But it treats all fast-charging sites as fundamentally identical, regardless of their charging rates, which it shows only in an information panel.
Now Chargeway has redesigned its app, releasing Version 2.0 with a variety of updates that respond to requests from its users and feedback from EV drivers across the country. The user interface has been redesigned, and the trip planner not only takes into account weather conditions and driving speeds, it recommends the optimal charging level for each EV.
Using the app still starts with the user selecting the EV they’re driving that day—and entering the current battery charge percentage so the app knows precisely how far the car can travel at the start of the route. Current Chargeway users will find the new interface familiar, but much of the logic under the surface has been improved.
Among the changes in Chargeway 2.0 are more focus on the actual power available from a given charging station, and advice for EV drivers on which station(s) to use based on the maximum charging rate their specific model can accept. To make this easier for drivers, the new version combines the timing required for a charge (at more than 40 different charging networks) with the mapping function to route among them en route to a destination.
In choosing a route, this means any station a user clicks on in the app will immediately show how long the vehicle will take to charge to the desired level—right in the popup—based on the vehicle’s specific charging curve and the recent behavior of the station.
Importantly, the app now wraps in the real-time behavior of stations in many of the major North American charging networks. It shows which chargers are available, and which are occupied—and it won’t route an EV driver to a dead or occupied charging station.
Optimizing station utilization and throughput
In addition, Chargeway 2.0 shows a recommended power level for the specific model—so it won’t send the driver of a Chevy Bolt EV, with a maximum fast-charging rate of about 55 kW, to a 350-kW station if a lower-power station is open. This optimizes station utilization—and improves station throughput by matching cars to the most appropriate charging station.
“Anyone can place kilowatts or plug acronyms into a brochure or software,” said Chargeway founder Matt Teske, “but that puts the onus on the public to become experts in complex calculations to understand how charging works.”
“We’re doing all the thinking for you,” he continued, relieving drivers from having to know the charge rating of a station, the limits of a particular coupler, and the charging curve of their own EV. “For every single brand of vehicle, everywhere in North America,” the app figures out the only really important thing for the driver: how long it will take to charge that EV at that charging station.
Worthy of note: Chargeway is now the sole independently owned EV charging/routing app. Rivian bought ABRP in June, and charging network EVgo has owned Plugshare since July 2021.
Teske ended by quoting Steve Jobs: “It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” Unless or until every EV maker has equivalent levels of charging awareness within their in-dash navigation, the new version of Chargeway may come closest to that mark. The new version of the Chargeway app is available today in both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.
The Electrify Expo conference provided airfare and lodging to enable the author of this article to interview Chargeway founder Matt Teske about the new release, on stage, for its attendees.