Despite heavy marketing campaigns touting electric and hybrid vehicles as the cars of the future, there haven't been too many people running to the nearest dealership to buy one. Automotive News puts sales for the first eleven months of 2012 at less than 30,000 total for three big EV nameplates: the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i, and the Chevrolet Volt. The plug-in hybrid Volt accounted for the vast majority of those sales.The Electric Drive Transportation Association puts sales of fully electric vehicles at less than 12,000 for the same period. The number climbs to just under 45,000 once plug-in hybrids are added to the mix.So, sales are up from previous years, but electrics are hardly taking over the market.Range anxiety is one possible problem behind the low sales.OnStar, the guardian angel of General Motors’ fleet, is rolling out apps to help alleviate this worry among GM customers. With two separate charge-management apps, the company is working to ease the transition into EV ownership.GM recently announced a goal of selling 500,000 electric or partly electric vehicles per year by 2017, and OnStar's apps could help perk up what has been a slow start to sales so far.
Make Sure a Trip Is Feasible Juice-Wise
GM's Spark EV Waypoint app will be launched around the same time as the 2014 all-electric Chevrolet Spark. It's intended to help drivers plan trips that won’t leave them stranded without a charge. Spark owners will be able to input a destination, and the app will calculate whether or not the car can make it there on a single charge and locate any charging stations along the way. The app can also calculate if the car needs to be charged further before embarking on the planned journey. If the destination is out of range and there aren’t any charging stations, the app user will be forewarned, at least.
Pay for Public Charging with the Tap of a Smartphone
The second app, currently in a prototype phase under the working title “Park-Tap-Charge,” will allow users to do just that. When parked at a public charging station, users would be able to tap a smartphone on the charging station, see the estimated cost of a charge, approve the cost, pay through a previously connected account, and start charging – all without fumbling with a credit card or cash. The app would require charging stations to be fitted with something called near-field communication technology, which would permit wireless data transfers from smartphones, but if we can send a man to the moon, surely this is within our grasp.