Taking On the Charging Challenge

For years, electric vehicles lagged in sales while consumers pointed to a lack of charging infrastructure. Recently, Tesla’s success in the luxury market has seen rising competition from big-name brands getting into the game with electric and plug-in hybrids. The result? EVs are gaining ground faster than ever. With sales spiking, charging stations are popping up across the country to keep up with demand.

ChargePoint is already the largest installer of electric charging stations, with more than 17,000 stations worldwide. The California-based company expects to at least double its network over the next year as more and more EVs hit the road.

They’ve announced partnerships with major brands like Nissan, BMW, and most recently, Cadillac. Drivers can figure out where to find the closest charging station through the ChargePoint app, which displays information about the nearby stations on their network, including price and availability. The app automates the charging process, sending a notification when the charge is complete and syncing payment through the user’s account. Since ChargePoint doesn’t operate the stations, individual owners set the charging price, though most are free. The data collected through the app helps determine how and when drivers charge their cars, which stations receive heavier use and where future stations should go.

The recent Cadillac partnership puts a ChargePoint card in each new Cadillac ELR, a high-end plug-in hybrid. The luxury car has an all-electric range of 37 miles, making it a viable option for urban commutes. Eventually, the Chargepoint network will be integrated into the car itself, allowing drivers to tap into the network, find nearby stations and track statistics through a dashboard display, a feature already available in the BMW i3. The deal could be the start of a growing movement for American carmakers as Detroit plugs into the potential of electric cars.

Despite rapid gains, there’s still a ways to go for EVs. A cross-country road trip would still be difficult and stations are more concentrated in some cities than others. Even so, the future of electric cars looks increasingly more promising, with innovative companies like ChargePoint putting consumer data to use with driver-focused technology that makes dodging the gas pump easier than ever.

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