One of the concerns most frequently expressed by people who are considering getting an electric or hybrid car is that they’ll run out of juice while driving. This worry is so common, it’s got a name: range anxiety.
In a traditional car with a combustion engine, it takes work (or really, incredibly bad luck) to get stranded without any fuel — after all, just about anywhere you go, there’s a gas station within a few miles. For drivers of electric vehicles, this isn’t the case. While charging infrastructure is growing, charging stations are still nowhere near as ubiquitous as gas stations — a fact which makes range anxiety a fairly reasonable thing to have.
Luckily, electric vehicle manufacturers and other agencies have recognized this fear and are rolling out solutions to help alleviate it. Now, tackling your range anxiety is as easy as planning your route online using a charging station map — or, if you’re on the go, even using an app. Let’s take a closer look at some of these options.
Charging station maps
There are a number of websites popping up offering simple but relatively comprehensive maps that indicate where charging stations are located in your area.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has a map showing the locations of 7,811 electric charging stations throughout the country, as well as details about each station, including hours of operation and the types of connectors available at the station. It seems pretty comprehensive, though it does take several clicks to get to the more detailed information. It also includes a handy route planner that allows you to enter your starting and ending locations and see the locations of all the charging stations along the way.
Drivers outside the U.S. will benefit from the Open Charge Map, which shows locations of electric charging stations around the world. It features a useful search feature that allows you to search by charging level, connection type, network, and more. You can also search by location or for stations near you, or browse through the map. Like the Department of Energy’s map, it does require a fair bit of clicking around to get the full details on locations. It doesn’t seem to offer a route planning feature.
If you have a smartphone, an app might be a more convenient way to find charging stations — especially while you’re out and about. While many are available, there’s one that looks to be at the top of the list: PlugShare.
PlugShare bills itself as the world’s most popular app for finding electric vehicle charging stations. It’s available in the Play Store and the App Store, as well as online. The app lets you find charging stations on a map, add new stations and leave reviews and photos, set alerts for when new stations become available in your area, and more. It comes with glowing reviews and high ratings by both Android and Apple users. The only complaint is that it doesn’t appear to offer trip planning.