Finding a place to quickly top off your electric car’s battery might get a little bit easier: Google announced today that it’s adding support to Google Maps for EV chargers. Both Tesla and Chargepoint’s global network of EV chargers will be added to the iOS and Android versions of the app starting today, with support for the desktop version of Maps coming in a few weeks.
Google Maps will also support different charging networks specific to certain countries. It will display chargers in the EVgo, Blink, and SemaConnect networks in the US; Chargemaster and Pod Point chargers in the UK; and Chargefox ones in Australia and New Zealand.
Nearby chargers will show up in Google Maps when a user searches for related terms like “EV charging,” or “charging stations.” Maps will include information about what types of ports are available at a given location, how powerful they are, pricing, as well as driver reviews and ratings.
That last bit is crucial. While new EV chargers come online every week, they’re still not nearly as reliable or quick as something like a gas station. Ports can go offline for a variety of reasons, EV-only parking rules can be ignored, and sometimes picky business owners (in particular, parking lot managers) shoo people away who are only looking for a short pit stop to charge. It also still takes a long time to charge an electric car from empty to half, let alone full battery.
Google Maps won’t have the same kind of social component at rollout as apps like PlugShare
The social component of apps like PlugShare (or even Chargepoint’s own app) helps mitigate these problems by encouraging drivers to regularly update the status of chargers, log problems with the tech or onsite personnel, and offer tips on the best times to charge.
One thing that’s missing in the initial Google Maps rollout is the ability to check if individual charging stalls are occupied. That means drivers won’t know for sure if chargers are available when they arrive at the location. Other services, like PlugShare or Tesla’s interface for its Supercharging station, put this information front and center. Google also doesn’t yet have Electrify America, the budding network born out of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal, included in its results.