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How to Build an EV Trip Planner System That Users Will Fall in Love With

Let’s look at building EV trip planners through different lenses

September 26, 2019

7 mins read

Electric vehicles (EVs) are all about being zero-emission, requiring minimal maintenance, and achieving governmental support. This all means a greener future and a privileged status for EV owners. Electric cars are awesome, but there are numerous challenges on the way to mass adoption. Electric car range anxiety is one of them. In this article, you’ll find out how to ensure EV route optimization and build a feature-rich EV trip planner.

Smart EV trip planners can remove obstacles to sales of electric cars

The world’s car manufacturing behemoths are quite straightforward with their plans for electrification. Any reputable carmaker has electric vehicles in their fleet. No wonder, as the value of the global electric vehicle market may reach $567 billion by 2025. In a longer 20-year perspective, Bloomberg experts expect EV sales to even outpace sales of what we today call conventional cars.

Size of the global market for electric vehicles in 2017 and 2025 (in billion US dollars)
How to Build an EV Trip Planner System That Users Will Fall in Love With
StatistaSize of the global market for electric vehicles in 2017 and 2025 (in billion US dollars)

But while things are moving toward electrification, buying an EV is still rather an exception than the norm. There are several reasons for that. Electric car range anxiety is probably the biggest concern that makes buyers feel dubious about electric cars. Fear of getting stuck without a charging station is fueled by the limited range of EVs, long charging times, and insufficient charging infrastructure.

The electric vehicle market will be more promising after all these hurdles are passed. Smart navigation for electric vehicles can clear at least one of those hurdles connected with electric car range anxiety. For both daily errands and longer trips, range-related EV route optimization makes a difference. Software can find the optimal route between each stop, predict the power required to complete a route, and inform a driver whether they have sufficient juice. If they don’t, it can suggest another route that includes a charging station.

Electric vehicles vs internal combustion vehicles in a 20-year perspective
How to Build an EV Trip Planner System That Users Will Fall in Love With
Source: BloombergSome of the biggest automakers might not make it safely into the all-electric future

Keep reading to find out what features a reliable EV navigation solution should contain and what problems it can solve for both users and carmakers.

Read more: Learn how we’ve helped to enrich the electric vehicle’s braking, steering, lighting, and power supply systems for safer and more efficient driving

Rest assured: EV trip planner systems can be helpful

Pure EVs have battery ranges of anywhere from 200 to 400 kilometers. Check out this comparison of energy consumption for popular EVs in the US.

Top 10 EVs rated for energy consumption by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
How to Build an EV Trip Planner System That Users Will Fall in Love With
Source: Inside EVsAll-Electric Car Energy Consumption (EPA) Compared – May 2019

So yes, modern electric cars need frequent charging. One of the primary tasks of EV journey planner software is to point out charging options along a route. But smart range planners have way more to offer. EV navigation system development should consider all the needs of EV drivers. These include:

  • Route planning. The longer the route, the more explicitly it should be planned. Availability of charging stations is the first criteria to consider in this case.
  • Range confidence. Software can fight electric car range anxiety by proving that traveling by EV can be safe, predictable, and take no longer than traveling with a conventional vehicle.
  • Know where to charge at the best price. Smart navigation for electric vehicles should help drivers compare electricity prices, which are often dynamic and location-based.
  • Find, book, and pre-order a charger. This is one more attractive way to help fight electric car range anxiety.
  • Entertainment while charging. Like it or not, charging an electric vehicle requires time. EV journey planner software can suggest things for drivers and passengers to do during that time.

Built-in or mobile, an EV trip planner should account for user needs and the limits of an electric vehicle

There are several types of EV journey planner software on the market today. The following kinds of EV navigation solutions are the most popular:

Mobile apps. This type of EV planner software is suitable for EV route optimization and charge-related activities. Advanced EV navigation solutions have the functionality of a classic GPS navigator. They’re then combined with EV-specific features like car capacity, actual range, and charging station preferences (with the ability to book a charger). They also let an owner establish a connection with the vehicle to monitor and get notified on its status even when they’re away.

Web-based apps. Such tools are perfect for planning trips ahead. They help you map out a route, showing charging options along the way. You can use web-based EV trip planner apps to estimate the time you’ll spend charging at each point as well as the cost of charging at each stop and along the entire route. They’re also useful for potential EV owners. Web-based apps offer a free and convenient way to imagine what a trip in an electric vehicle looks like, what it will cost, and how well the car charging network is developed in the target area.

APIs to power proprietary apps. Using APIs provided by tech companies specializing in navigation, mapping, or energy data is another way to create an EV route planner. Such an approach enables manufacturers, Tier 1 providers, and OEMs to include essential features related to smart route planning and charging into their custom apps.

In-vehicle navigation systems. These are the most desirable, user-friendly, and technologically complex type of EV trip planner systems. For drivers to use these apps directly from the cockpit, EV manufacturers have to embed them into navigation systems. Tesla and Nissan have already done so. Other options to optimize your route directly from the car are through an EV’s infotainment system. The first way is to open range and route planning apps through built-in browsers. (Check out this one for the in-car Tesla browser.) Otherwise, you can project mobile phone apps to the vehicle’s infotainment system via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto like Chevrolet Bolt EV users already can.

Read more: Learn how we’ve built navigation components for premium in-car infotainment systems, bringing routing and guidance excellence to the luxury car segment

A comprehensive EV trip planner system covers many variables

How to Build an EV Trip Planner System That Users Will Fall in Love With

An EV trip planner should go beyond a mere navigation system. That means taking into account more than just distance and time. EV journey planner software should also return calculations based on a car’s specifications, a driver’s habits, and the availability of charging infrastructure. For instance, a driver that maintains a stable speed uses less energy than one who speeds up and slows down all the time. Weather and traffic conditions also matter. For instance, congestion or driving in windy conditions up steep grades decreases range.

While creating EV route planners, OEMs should consider the following stable and variable factors:

  • Car and driving style-related factors
    • Car model
    • Driving style
    • Weight of the car (providing for the number of passengers)
    • Current range
    • Nominal battery capacity
    • Current actual battery capacity
  • Route conditions
    • Inside and outside temperature
    • Average speed
    • Traffic situation
  • Topographic factors
  • Charging-related factors
    • Plug type
    • Charging infrastructure
    • Personal station preferences
    • Availability of selected charging stations
    • Amenities

    Features not to forget when building an EV trip planner

    The way things are right now, starting on a journey in an electric vehicle may seem quite challenging. For all drivers — experienced and first-timers — EV trip planning software should help meet specific needs. Experienced users are picky. They expect advanced features to make the journey in an electric vehicle fast, intuitive, and rational. For beginners, range anxiety is more pressing, so an EV trip planner should convince them there’s no way they’ll get stuck in the middle of nowhere with zero range. Providing the features below when building an EV trip planner can be the answer:

    • Predict driving range and find nearby charging stations. This is the most basic and important feature. It should work perfectly.
    • Plan the optimal trip. Focusing on the variables we’ve described above, the app should prepare one or several route options. The driver can then choose the optimal route using filters.
    • Pay for charging with a mobile phone. So as not to add an extra minute to the trip, the app should let users pay for charging with a mobile phone.
    • Monitor real-time battery status. As a smart continuation of the EV navigation solution, the system should calculate actual range taking into account the variables discussed above.
    • Enable voice interactions. EV trip planners should inform drivers of any changes to range estimates.
    • Encourage community contribution. The present and — most importantly — the future of the automotive industry is all about data. There’s hardly anything so precious to improving the accuracy and predictive capability of software than real-world data.
    • Inform on range loss in idle mode. The app should inform users about range loss not only while preparing for a trip but even when the electric car is left parked for some time.
    • Enable custom reporting and personalized statistics. To ensure better EV route optimization in the future, look at data from previous journeys. Comparing trips in charts and tables can provide insights.

    What’s next?

    Despite huge leaps in the automotive industry, we’re still a far cry from having electric vehicle chargers on every corner. But the situation is changing every day, and joint efforts of manufacturers, suppliers, governments, and the public will only improve the situation for electric vehicles. EV trip planners can also do their bit to help fight factors such as electric car range anxiety that are holding back EVs. Just make sure your trip planning solution can respond to the numerous challenges EV drivers face.


    If you’re searching for the advanced solutions for electric vehicles, contact Intellias. Our proven automotive expertise and rich experience in designing and building solutions for EVs in particular will reinforce your business greatly.

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