Launched in July 2013, the free Charge Your Car (CYC) app is a world-first in app technology using emerging state-of-the-art charge point management, mapping and mobile payment technologies to allow users to find charge points, plan a route, start and stop a session and, uniquely, pay for a charge at all app-ready charge points across the growing CYC national network.
After installing the free Charge Your Car app from the Google Android Play Store, a neat looking shortcut was created on the tablets desktop – our test device being a Toshiba AT200. Upon opening the app, you are presented with several well-laid out options the first of which being the obvious; where you want to search.
At present, the app works best in certain areas of the UK (as shown in the screenshot above) but this is set to change as the network expands with the implementation of electric vehicle infrastructure.
The pins on the map each point to a charging station and fall into one of four status categories, available, in use, out of service and unknown. Although we’re yet to test how up-to-date this information is – in part due to there being virtually no charging points shown for London and North London areas – there’s no reason to think it’s not accurate.
Slick and speedy to respond, the app works well on a large tablet screen, although it would be nice to see landscape orientation as an option, whereas currently the app defaults to portrait mode since it is designed more for a mobile phone which is a bit more portable and so owners likely to use the app are more likely to have a mobile on their person than a tablet device. That said, the ability to store favourite locations rather than having to continually search for them is a useful one which requires registration for synchronisation. This feature is one which users may well want to use on their tablet device and then sync, or have available on, their mobile device should they be out and about.
Another neat option is to filter the search results by connection type. There are currently three available; BS1363 domestic 3-pin, 62196 Type 2 and CHAdeMO. These filters are accesible via the “advanced” link where you can choose to turn them on and off, depending on which type of connection, or connections, is best suited to your EV or plug-in hybrid.
The CYC network also works with the CYC ‘lifetime card’, a single RFID card that can be used across the UK with all charge points on the network. To pay for charging, users simply register their debit or credit card, which links to their CYC app and lifetime card. There is also an existing pay-by-phone system as well as a helpline for technical support and advice.
All in all, the Charge Your Car app is an excellent start and one which will only get better as more charge points are added. Certainly for the moment, at the time of writing, the app is more suited to the areas showing all the pins in our screenshot above, so the North East of England which is no surprise as there are now over 1000 charge points there. Charge Your Map’s creators say,
“At present, the CYC network comprises 1,500 charge points, of which currently 20% can be operated using the app. The aim with the projected growth of the CYC network over the next few years is that EV drivers are always within range of a charge point and CYC intends to licence the CYC live status map to electric vehicle manufacturers and satellite navigation companies.”
The app is easy to use, well designed for touch screen devices both large and small and quick to respond even when using a 3G network connection. Considering the app is also free, there really isn’t that much to complain about.
The app is available to download free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. www.chargeyourcar.org.uk