2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Charging stations are popping up every day, but they still can be tough to come by.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to find places to charge up an electric vehicle.
Manufacturer apps, third-party services, and charging providers are all useful for finding plugs.
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Electric vehicles are taking roads by storm. But lots of drivers, even ones eager to help usher in a greener future, are too worried about charging up to make the switch.
They may have a point. Charging infrastructure will need to get a lot better if we want to get millions more Americans into battery-powered rides in the next decade. And there's no doubt that gas pumps are much easier to come by than charging stations.
Still, if you know where to look, it's simple to find a place to charge up your EV in many parts of the country.
A handful of car companies offer their own mobile apps or in-car solutions for locating charging stations and paying for them. If you own a car from one of these manufacturers, this can be the most convenient method for finding spots to plug in.
Tesla has a clear edge in this regard, as it runs its own charging network with thousands of stations. Tesla owners can use an app or their car's infotainment system to sift through nearby locations and see if any plugs are available. They can also plan routes that account for stopping to charge.
BMW, for example, lets owners search for public chargers through the BMW Charging app.
Some automakers have started cobbling together their own charging networks by making deals with existing charging providers and slapping on new branding. This is their way of making charging convenient and seamless without spending billions on a vast, Tesla-like network.
The FordPass charging network, for instance, counts 16,000 stations run by companies like ChargePoint, EVgo, and Electrify America. Ford's app lets owners pay for in-network charging, check plug availability, and plan trips. General Motors is working on a similar Ultium Charge 360 service in partnership with seven charging providers.
Read more: The new infrastructure deal would drop $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle chargers. These 4 companies are poised to cash in.
Numerous third-party apps and websites can help EV owners find places to replenish their vehicles' batteries.
A quick search for "EV charging stations" on Google Maps can do the trick. For any given location that pops up, Google will tell you how many plugs are available to use, the level of charging, and the type of connector present.
There are also a host of dedicated platforms – PlugShare and ChargeHub being two of the most popular – that let users search for stations across major charging networks. Both allow users to plan trips and filter search results by connector type, charger power, network, and other features. PlugShare users can also filter for stations with the highest user ratings or for locations with amenities like WiFi.
Individual charging networks
The last and probably most tedious way to find chargers is to check each of the major networks individually.
EVgo, ChargePoint, Electrify America, Volta, and others offer the ability to search for nearby chargers, check the level of charging on offer, and see if plugs are in use. Tesla says it will soon open up its massive Supercharger network to owners of other EVs, too.
This isn't necessarily the most efficient method of finding a place to juice up, but if you subscribe to a company's network or just prefer a certain provider's chargers, this may be the way to go. Plus, Google Maps and other third-party sites may not always be as up to date as a charging company's own directory.
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