Electric Car Companies to Use iPhone Apps to Monitor Charge

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Photo By jprowland/Courtesy Flickr
This Smart Car in Nimes, France, is a pure electric vehicle.

Several mass-market electric cars will hit showrooms this year. Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Fisker, Think, and Smart are releasing new electric vehicles (EVs) in 2010. As the companies prepare for the unveiling, many are scrambling to add an essential finishing touch: an iPhone application.

Applications will include a charge station locator and remote charge and car temperature monitoring. Smart’s application is currently the most developed. It has navigation assistance, a car locator to find your car in the parking lot, and it can connect calls and play music within the app, all for $10. Third-party applications like ChargePoint from Coulumb Technologies are also tapping the market, placing their stations at select McDonald’s to drum up business.

Jim Motavalli, environmental expert and author of Breaking Gridlock: Moving Toward Transportation That Works, expects that every EV-selling company will market an iPhone app with the car.

“You’re nothing if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad app for your brand, even if it’s frivolous,” Motavalli says in his blog for The Daily Green.

While EV apps may seem “frivolous” in today’s market, these apps have their place in the future. When EVs reach mass market, charging the vehicles will be more challenging. If every person tried to charge a car upon returning home from work, energy companies wouldn’t be able to cope.  

The iPhone app could tap into a network of EV users to see when each person is charging his/her car, and some consumers could set their cars to begin charging while they sleep. If President Barack Obama’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is reached, these apps will become essential.