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The Best EV Charging App Is One You’ll Build Yourself

There are a plethora of electric vehicle (EV) charging and management applications used by charge point operators (CPOs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and drivers. These apps help drivers find charging stations, see charging status and complete transactions, and let CPOs remotely control chargers, monitor uptime and more.
Closeup of a person holding a phone in front of a car.

It’s common for CPOs and OEMs to work with a vendor to create unique applications for their brand, and these apps have helped build a base of in-home, public and fleet chargers across the globe. But as the industry expands that base, many are looking for ways to modernize and future-proof their applications — and they’re doing it with open source.

Why build your own car charging app?

There are plenty of vendors that create commercially available and customizable apps today. For some, the convenience of a ready-made solution outweighs the perceived hassle of developing your own. However, new open source technology CitrineOS lets CPOs and OEMs adopt and build apps on top of standard EV charger management software. Here’s why open source de-risks building your own charging app.

Availability: While proprietary apps have taken the EV charging industry from zero to one, today’s apps need a performance jolt. Upwards of 20% of chargers have been found to be inoperable in major cities, reinforcing widespread “range anxiety” and hindering broader EV adoption. Building apps on top of CitrineOS lets CPOs and OEMs monitor charger uptime, power levels and degradation — something most charging software doesn’t do today, which may be a reason so many chargers face availability issues. CitrineOS lets operators remotely control equipment to properly manage energy consumption and throughput to further reduce downtime.

Cost: The age-old question of build versus buy often boils down to one thing: cost. Working with a vendor to create an EV charging app from the ground up and maintain it as new standards and requirements arise can cut into the bottom line of running a profitable charge point. Building on top of free open source software can significantly reduce this cost so resources can be allocated to creating other unique functionality.

Standardization: PlugShare. ChargePoint. EVgo. Electrify America. Volta. These are a handful of the charging apps you might find on an EV driver’s phone. Not to mention branded car apps from Tesla, Porsche, Ford and others. All these apps have unique functionality and user experiences, which can be frustrating for drivers and CPOs alike. Widespread adoption of open standards and open source software can create more consistent user experiences across apps, leading to happier drivers and increased usage.

The beauty of open source software is that it offers a common platform and framework for developers to build custom features while benefiting from the advancements and insights of a collaborative community. CitrineOS can be used as a standalone solution or be customized to meet specific needs. And when those needs inevitably change, it provides the adaptability required to make fast and targeted adjustments. 

The best EV charging app can unlock billions of dollars

CPOs today have a massive opportunity to accelerate growth through access to $10 billion in government funding via the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program. But in order to qualify for these funds, they must be in compliance with OCPP 2.0.1, a standard for EV charger management software that includes the ability to provision and remotely control chargers, improve transaction handling, monitor uptime, power levels and degradation, and manage consumption and throughput.

CitrineOS is OCPP 2.0.1 compliant and provides access to a community of developers and EV enthusiasts with shared objectives. This lets developers leverage compliant software and personalize applications that meet unique needs.

Ready to build your EV charging app with CitrineOS? Join us on GitHub

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Olga Haygood
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