EV worries: charging anxiety eclipses range


In-car navigation can revolutionise the experience of driving an EV, writes Drew Meehan

These days, most drivers aren’t worried about whether their electric vehicle (EV) can go the distance. However, when it comes time to charge, they’re still faced with some important questions: Will there be chargers available at the next stop? How long will it take to charge? What’s the cost?

In the past, the talk about EVs largely centred around range anxiety, the worry of running out of battery power before reaching a charging station. However, advancements in battery technology have made significant strides in recent years, and while concerns about EV range are easing, they’re now giving way to a new worry: charging anxiety.

Navigating charging concerns

Much of today’s charging anxiety is being driven by a lack of standardisation across existing charging networks. In many places, EV users must deal with differences in plug types, payment options, communication protocols between chargers and even charging speeds. It turns what should be the simple task of plugging in an EV and charging into a complicated and confusing experience.

Apps can show drivers detailed information on charging station opening times, payment methods and access restrictions

On top of juggling multiple subscriptions and apps, EV drivers must contend with less-than-reliable information about charging points. For instance, an app might direct an EV user to a charging station with available, compatible chargers. But when they get there, the driver finds that the chargers are broken or already in use by other vehicles. Or maybe the app showed that there were fast chargers available, but this isn’t the case, leaving the driver stuck charging for longer than they expected.

Those types of things mean that EV drivers have a lot to manage. They are trying to understand charging prices, speed and where charging points are available. It creates layers of complexity that most drivers have never had to experience before.

How to solve it?

Charging anxiety isn’t just a headache for EV drivers; it’s a big barrier to mass adoption of electric mobility. And it must be addressed for more people to make the move to electric.

Fortunately, policymakers seem to be taking note. The Council of the EU recently adopted new legislation that aims to address many of the current pain points around charging. Set to come into force in 2025, the rules will expand the charging infrastructure along Europe’s main highways, allow payments to be made without an app or subscription and require pricing and charger availability to be clearly communicated.

Location tech companies have an equally important role to play in tackling charging anxiety. It starts with helping carmakers develop solutions that give drivers more reliable and useful data on all things related to charging, such as providing directions to the nearest EV chargers and the cost of charging at different stations.

Embracing the future of driving

Although data is powerful, getting it to drivers is just as important. The choice may be between searching through a map of multiple identical EV charging stations or quickly getting to three of the closest stations that have compatible, readily available fast chargers that have been personally selected for you. This is where the experience of driving an EV is revolutionised by in-car navigation.

The traditional function of navigation was to only lead a driver to a destination. When driving an EV, a driver needs to consider where they might need to stop, want to stop, and can actually stop. The goal is seamless mobility, meaning one should be able to get into the car and drive away without giving it any thought. Therefore, within the car, location tech providers strive to create user experiences that alleviate these worries.

Charging anxiety isn’t just a headache for EV drivers; it’s a big barrier to mass adoption of electric mobility

The way those experiences are shaped will be greatly influenced by personalisation. This entails merging data from a driver’s various CPO or eMSP subscriptions with their in-dash navigation to provide them with a view of current rates at charging stations in the area. Additionally, it means a smoother transition between in-car technology and the other drivers’ other digital touchpoints, ensuring that they always have access to the information they require.

While there are still hurdles to overcome in alleviating charging anxiety, envisioning a future with more unified and straightforward charging infrastructure, where drivers are equipped with enhanced data and tools to navigate their charging experiences, promises a bright and electrifying future.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Drew Meehan is EV Expert at TomTom

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