Got EV Range Anxiety? There’s an App for That

Cell Phone and EV Panel: Edward Pleet, Ford Motor Company, and Nick Pudar, OnStar, at Green:Net 2011The electric car has encountered a number of hurdles in its ongoing path to the mainstream, and they haven’t all been technical. More human challenges, like range anxiety, have served as hindrances in the wide-scale consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs.)
As big carmakers move more and more into the electric vehicle market, engineers are working overtime to develop applications that will help ease customers’ minds and smooth the transition to EVs, representatives from Ford Motor Company and vehicle technology firm OnStar said in a panel at Thursday’s Green:Tech 2011 conference.
“When we did development of the [first Ford] electric vehicle, we discovered that the EV requires a different level of connectivity,” Edward Pleet, a business development manager in Ford’s connected services organization, said.
Providing consumers with in-depth information about their vehicles creates a positive feedback loop that benefits both car drivers and the environment. “With better choices, people will make better decisions,” said Nick Pudar, the business development VP at OnStar, which develops technology for General Motors.
While many industries, including healthcare, have benefitted from opening up to using independently developed applications, it may be a while before developers can hack out new apps for cars. “We’re very interested in making available appropriate APIs for third party developers,” Pudar said. “[But] our primary objective is to ensure vehicle operation is safe and secure.”
But amid all the opportunities to develop new apps, carmakers have to be careful to not alienating consumers with too much technology at once. “The key is keeping it simple for the consumer,” Pleet noted. “If the process is [too] complex, at that point, people check out.”