Google Maps Is About To Get A Lot Better For EV Charging

Artificial intelligence is everywhere now. It’s all over earnings calls from companies trying to appear with the times. It’s writing lazy high schoolers’ essays. It’s powering clunky new wearables that tech reviewers hate. Hype and buzzwords aside, some companies are actually putting AI to good use. Google, for one, aims to use AI to make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to find charging stations, and this series of coming updates

Will Google Maps Become The EV Charging Super App?

Most parts of the EV charging experience are pretty clunky (for anyone who isn’t a Tesla owner using a Tesla Supercharger). Google is rolling out new Maps features to help EV drivers find places to plug in.

In the coming months, Google Maps will start showing AI-generated blurbs that tell you precisely how to find a charging station, the company said on Wednesday. Anybody who’s familiar with EV charging outside of the home will know how useful that could be. 

Fast-charging stations are often in some far-off corner of a parking lot, tucked away behind a building or deep in the bowels of a multi-level parking garage. You’ll find them eventually, but it often requires some tedious circling. Gas stations are marked by 30-foot signs and huge awnings. EV charging pillars are more subtle. 

Google Maps AI EV Charging Directions Summary

Google Maps users will soon start seeing detailed directions to the charging station they’re routing to. Those instructions will be derived from user reviews and compiled by AI. According to Google, drivers may see directions like: “Enter the underground parking lot and follow the signs toward the exit. Just before exiting, turn right.” 

In an era when chargers are still far less common than gas stations and often in varying states of disrepair, this sort of crowdsourced data has already been a boon for EV owners. The popular PlugShare app invites EV drivers to leave a review of their charging experience and inform others of potential hiccups or closures. Rivian, the EV startup, is gathering its own data by asking drivers to rate chargers they visit directly in their vehicles’ touchscreens. 

Google announced a few other EV-related features coming to Maps aimed at streamlining charging.

Google Maps EV chargers displayed

Vehicles with Google’s apps built-in will soon display the location of nearby charging stations, their power rating and how many stalls are available—all without a driver searching for them. Cars with integrated Google Maps will also gain the ability to suggest charging stops on a route with multiple waypoints. Volvo, Polestar, Chevrolet and Cadillac all sell cars with Google built-in. 

Considering these new features and Google’s unparalleled access to people and data, Maps may be on a path to becoming the super app for EV charging. Given the assortment of charging apps that EV drivers juggle these days to locate and pay for chargers, I’m here for it. 

Contact the author: tim.levin@insideevs.com