Road Rave: Taking the guesswork out of public EV charging stations

Range anxiety and uncertainty about access to charging stations are still the primary concerns cited by new car buyers when asked why they are hesitant to purchase or lease an electric vehicle.

“Dealerships are looking for the top three things they can say to help sell a car, and we found that the hard part of selling an EV is the charging system,” Matt Teske, the founder of a startup named Chargeway, told Digital Trends.

Through a comprehensive approach involving car dealers, public utilities, charging providers, and consumers, Teske believes he can simplify the public charging network, and make car buyers more comfortable with the idea of going electric.

The Chargeway Beacon

Teske developed the Chargeway Beacon to help dealers make the case for EVs. It’s basically a big stand-up display that shows the network of charging stations in the nearby area. The beacon displays every location, and it can be customized to show only those stations compatible with the cars sold at that dealership. If you’re in the market for a Leaf, for example, the nearest Nissan dealer will show you only the charging stations the hatchback can plug into.

road rave chargeway ev charging stations founder matt teske beacon locator

“With this tool, you can show a customer who is shopping in the showroom exactly where they can charge the vehicle,” Teske explained. “With electric cars, we have a cornucopia of options with plug types, AC or DC, and charging speeds. It takes too long to explain. So, we took all that language about charging, and converted into something you can explain to someone in the matter of a minute.”

Categorizing Charging Stations

To explain the charging landscape, Chargeway developed a system to categorize charging stations based on their plug type, and on the charging speed available at the station. Plug types are tagged as green, blue, or red in the app. Green stations use the standard SAE J1772 variety plus the DC Fast charging CCS plug, as supported by Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and other automakers. Blue stations offer CHAdeMO fast-charging plugs. Red stations are for Tesla chargers. It’s a lot simpler – and less technical – than it sounds when you break it down into colors.

road rave chargeway ev charging stations pumps
Jeff Zuschmeide/Digital Trends

Then, each charging station is also rated according to its charging speed. The number one indicates 1.4 kilowatts, while a two indicates charging capabilities between three and 20 kilowatts. Fast charging ranges from three to six, up to 200 kilowatts. The faster you charge, the faster you’ll get back on the road.

The Chargeway App

Teske’s vision doesn’t stop at the dealership door. The Beacon is really just a large format implementation of the main product: the Chargeway app. The app is free to download for iOS or Android, and free to use for consumers. To answer the obvious question, Chargeway makes money through support from public electric utilities, who are keen to promote EV use, and who often have agreements to promote green initiatives with their home states and municipalities.

When you select your particular vehicle, the app ignores all charging stations that are not applicable to it.

The Chargeway app has a lot going on. The main function is a map of all public EV charging stations in America. You can use it like a similar function in Google maps to zoom in where you happen to be now, or to check out the charging scene in any area you plan to visit. That’s pretty good on its own, but Chargeway takes it a step further.

“It always comes down to the car you’re driving,” Teske said. “Because, depending on the car, the plug type might be different, and the charging level it can accept will be different. The car you’re driving is the only thing you’re concerned about.”

The Chargeway app also includes every EV you can buy in America. When you select your particular vehicle, the app ignores all charging stations that are not applicable to it.

road rave chargeway ev charging stations app iphone

“Once you add your vehicle, we can show you the stations that will work for you,” Teske explained.

It doesn’t end there. When you select a charging station, the app offers you the ability to calculate how long you need to leave your car plugged into the charger to take on enough electricity to get where you’re going. For example, if you roll in on a 50-percent charge with 120 miles of range left on your car, and you need to travel 150 miles to get home, the Chargeway app will tell you precisely how long you’ll wait at that station for. Extending this service a little further, Chargeway can help you plan a road trip, including calculating your charge times at stations along the way to get you where you’re going in the most efficient way.

Partnering with Utilities and Charging Station Networks

Chargeway is working with the different charging station networks to place stickers on the chargers that correspond to its color- and number-based classification system. That way, users will be able to see the same information on the charger that the app displays. Additionally, signage visible from the road could use the same designations to give EV drivers confidence that the station fits their car.

“By labeling the stations, drivers can immediately know if that charger will work for them.”

“Labeling the stations is one of the last things we’re working on,” Teske said. “If you’re an EV driver, you’re not seeing a well-lit gas station on the corner. Charging stations could be tucked away anywhere. By labeling the stations, drivers can immediately know if that charger will work for them.”

Right now, Chargeway is working a pilot program in Portland, Oregon, in partnership with Portland General Electric corporation and the company’s Electric Avenue charging stations around the city.

road rave chargeway ev charging stations app lifestyle

“This is the first example of what we’re doing with PGE,” Teske said. “We’re going to be labeling every single Electric Avenue with the exact same language.”

Moving forward, Chargeway plans to work with charging network providers to support the company’s color and number coding system, and to make it easier for EV owners to manage charge accounts with multiple providers. Ultimately, Teske’s goal is to make EV charging as straightforward as fueling up a car.

“An electric car drives just like any other car on the road,” Teske insisted. “The only difference is how you fuel it. Chargeway now makes electric fuel easy for everyone to understand.”


Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.