Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
While electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is improving, the overall user experience still needs a bit of ironing out — but things are improving!
Unlike gasoline filling stations where you can drive up to any location, fill up your car, pay, and drive off, EV chargers often require the user to register and set up an account to process payments. It can be a bit of a laborious process just to charge your car, and then there’re all the supporting apps you have to use to access the chargers.
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Thankfully things are changing, today, one of the UK’s most popular EV charger mapping apps, Zap-Map announced the launch of its Zap-Pay service, which aims to address the inelegance associated with using multiple EV chargers.
The new feature is integrated into the regular Zap-Map app, which allows EV drivers to find a compatible charging point nearby and plan a route to it. With Zap-Pay, users can select the charger they’re using and pay for it too by adding a payment card to the app. No membership and no account is required.
Users will also receive live updates on their vehicle’s charge status, and can print receipts when they’re done – a useful feature for those logging business miles.
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According to a recent survey of Zap-Map users, 68% say they experience “charger anxiety,” which are the feelings associated with getting to a charger and not being able to use it due to technical faults or not having the right app.
Indeed, Zap-Pay certainly sounds like a good solution that could make using EV chargers quicker and easier. But there are a few caveats.
The service is only available at 10 chargers across four locations so far: Stratford, Gloucester, Chepstow, and Bristol. The company has plans to roll out to over 150 locations by the end of the year, though. So, for now, let’s just consider this announcement as more of a pilot trial than the real thing.
Zap-Pay is launching in partnership with one EV charger provider too. It’s going to add more, as time goes on. But the partners listed on its site, Enginie, ESB, LiFe, and Hubsta only make up a portion of the UK’s EV charging network. It’s missing key partners like the UK’s largest provider Polar, Ubitricity, and Ecotricity.
Zap-Map isn’t the first to offer a feature that aims to streamline EV charging. Plugsurfing offers a similar system where users are issued an RFID tag that grants them access to over 200,000 charge points across Europe. Each month they pay a single payment to Plugsurfing which then handles paying each charging provider that was used.
For apps like Zap-Pay and Plugsurfing to be truly useful, it needs to work with every provider, otherwise it’s only going to solve half the problem. But it is a step in the right direction.
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