General Motors recently set the bold target of 500,000 electrified vehicles sold annually by 2017, and is now turning to the promise of smartphone apps to reach the finish line.
Three new OnStar apps were recently previewed at the GM Electrification Experience to help extend the range of GM-brand electric vehicles and make charging more efficient than ever – among the largest hurdles for EVs to overcome in their drive for wider integration.
Waypoint Takes EVs Way Further
Waypoint will be integrated into the existing RemoteLink app and work like any other navigation system to tell Spark drivers if they can reach their destination on the car’s existing battery pack charge.
When destinations are beyond the Spark’s current range, Waypoint will plot a route and recommend turn-by-turn directions to public charging stations along the way.
The app will also take past driving habits into account to provide a customized estimate, and will be available through GM’s online owners service, enabling directions to be sent electronically to a vehicle and stored in the OnStar Virtual Advisor service. Waypoint is on schedule to launch with the Spark EV’s release in 2013.
Park-Tap-Charge Connects Drivers With Chargers
Since not all charging stations are free, GM is also developing an app to empower drivers to estimate how much charging away from home will cost and pay for electricity using their smartphone. The aptly named Park-Tap-Charge (PTC) app will show drivers the hourly rate of charging and estimated time/cost of a full charge, and handle payment through PayPal.
PTC will use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for all its tasks. Similar to radio-frequency identification (RFID), NFC is designed for use by devices in close proximity with each other, and will create a secure connection between enabled phones and charging stations to send and receive information.
Gamifying Volt Driver Competition
Making EV charging more efficient on one’s own certainly appeals to most EV drivers, but where’s the fun in that? Humans like to compete against each other, so OnStar’s new Volt Driver Challenge app will use the power of gamification to let Chevy Volt drivers compare their driving habits against each other for badges and more mileage.
The Volt Driver Challenge app will log the number of miles each Volt owner drives in electric-only mode as well as total gallons of fuel saved, and store it online so drivers can compare their data to other registered Volts on a leaderboard.
In addition to a calendar for drivers to set monthly electric miles and MPG goals, the app will also award digital badges ranging from “Rookie” and “Fuel Miser” all the way up to “EV VIP” as the Volt hits certain milestones. The app is currently available to any driver with an active OnStar account.
Image Credits: Woman on electronic device in car image via Shutterstock; Spark EV Waypoint images courtesy of General Motors
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.