GM has already released an OnStar app that extends smartphone control to a range of vehicles, but it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that it has bigger mobile plans than that. It's now announced two new apps designed for EV owners -- one that will let you help find EV chargers on your route, and another that will let you pay for the charge with your phone. The first of those is an update to OnStar's existing RemoteLink app (presumably for both iOS and Android), which will be getting a new Spark EV Waypoint tab that'll let you enter a destination and then have a route configured that ensures you won't be stuck miles from the nearest charging station. GM says it will be available in time for the launch of the 2014 Spark EV. The second app, dubbed Park-Tap-Charge at the moment, is apparently still in the prototype stage, but GM promises that it will let you use your NFC-equipped smartphone to pay directly at the charging station, and also check information like the hourly rate of charging or the estimated time for a full charge before you pay. No word yet on when it will be available, though.
A Battery of Apps: OnStar Debuts Future EV Solutions
New connected apps tackle range anxiety and public charging
SAN FRANCISCO – 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.
OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. With more than 6 million subscribers in the U.S, Canada and China, OnStar is currently available on more than 40 MY 2013 GM models, as well as available for installation on most other vehicles already on the road with OnStar FMV. More information about OnStar can be found at www.onstar.com.