OnStar Showcases Future EV Solutions

General Motors, through its OnStar division, showcased two new apps it says will 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 through the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App.

GM expands its electric vehicle line-up next year with the 2014 Chevy Spark EV and will offer more drivers the possibility to manage and control electric-only functions from their phone.

With this in mind, the following two will be offered: the Spark EV Waypoint tab and the Park-Tap-Charge Prototype App.

Spark EV Waypoint tab

Because the Spark EV operates exclusively on electricity, drivers will need to know if they can reach their destination on a single charge.

GM says 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.”

GM explained that 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

According to GM, 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

GM says that 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, GM says its 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.

GM says the current name for this prototype app is 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.”

GM says 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.

OnStar designed the app to leverage Near Field Communication technology, a way of contactless payment being implemented in smartphones today.

The theory is that using a signal sent from an NFC-enabled phone to a charge station with an embedded NFC tag, drivers will be able to automatically initiate payment from a previously connected account by tapping their smartphone to the station.

The current version of the application is still at the concept level and provides engineers the base for driving a scalable and viable solution as more EVs hit the road.

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  • dutchinchicago

    I love my Volt but software (and user interfaces) are clearly not GM’s strong points. It used to take seconds for my iphone to communicate with my Nissan Leaf but it takes minutes (and usually multiple attempts) to do the same thing on my GM Volt.

    It is inexcusable that GM can not integrate charging stations in the on-board navigation system especially given that they have more than a year left to do it (and had several years to do it for the Volt).

    You would expect that given that on-star already can communicate with the car it would not be too hard to up-load charging station and their status to the car.

    Bad GM (but please still sell me a 2015 Volt in a couple of years to replace my current one ;))