ChargePoint Wants to Make Charging Your EV a Little Easier

Valet drivers and fleet managers can now monitor charging statuses of the electric vehicles in their lots to maximize use of charging stations.

A ChargePoint Inc. charging plug sits connected to an electric vehicle (EV) at a station in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. City Council committee signed off financing for a program to provide more than $1.1 million in funding to add dozens of EV charging stations around the city in addition to the 560 already in place at city facilities and street locations. Photographer: Dania Maxwell/Bloomberg
Dania Maxwell/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Most EV drivers are probably familiar with ChargePoint, a company that provides services specific to electric car drivers. ChargePoint makes both hardware and software for charging stations in homes and businesses across the country. With a new service launching today, ChargePoint is out to make living the EV life even easier. It’s called Valet View and it maximizes efficiency for EV charging in places where multiple electric cars need juice. 

We spoke with ChargePoint Director of Product Management Jim Solomon who explained how it works.

Solomon describes ChargePoint as “a full solution provider for everything electric vehicle charging.” He says Valet View is “a tool that is focused towards making a valet attendant charging experience great for both the driver and the actual valet.” It’s a feature that’s bundled with ChargePoint’s cloud-based subscription service.

“[Valet View] provides a way for the valet to know when some of the vehicles that are plugged in are actually done charging so they can go swap them out with the vehicles that are waiting to be charged. It also makes it really easy for them to see if one of their chargers is unoccupied,” said Solomon.

ChargePoint

So how is Valet View able to talk to chargers to see the charging status of the cars they’re plugged into? 

“What our chargers do is periodically communicate their status up to the cloud-based software. There’s software running in the charging station itself and there’s a utility-grade meter in the charging station measuring how much electricity is being delivered to the car. Eventually, the vehicle will stop drawing power at which point the charger knows that the vehicle is done. Through the network, it communicates that information to the cloud.” From there, the cloud talks to the app and that’s when an icon shows up on Valet View informing whoever is using it that the charger is ready to be swapped to the next thirsty EV.

Valet lots aren’t the only place where Valet View is useful. Solomon also sees demand for the new service in fleets of electric cars which is becoming a more popular idea due to the low cost-per-mile of EVs. 

“A lot of [fleets] are converting to electric,” said Solomon. “Their assignment process can now be based upon whether the vehicle is fully charged or not.”

“There’s a lot of interest in a lot of areas in regards to electrification. I think the economics are really good for a fleet. What they really care about is the cost per mile driven and electric vehicles are very compelling to fleet managers for that reason,” said Solomon on the advantages of EVs for fleets. “A network charging solution like ours that can minimize fuel costs through our smart charging algorithms. We can optimize the fuel cost if you combine the network charging we provide with the efficiency of the vehicle in terms of dollars per mile driven you get a really compelling return on investment that is hard for fleets to ignore.”

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Since plug-in cars still make up a very small percentage of all of the vehicles on the road, it might be hard to imagine a parking lot full of them that would require Valet View. However, as EV adoption grows and if optimistic predictions are to be believed, it will be really nice to already have this service in place when we’re all fighting for precious plug-in stations to top off our cars. Solomon believes that ChargePoint's Valet View service will be "really helpful in making electric vehicles a mass-market product."

If you’re a subscriber to ChargePoint’s cloud-based subscription, you already have Valet View. If you’re not a ChargePoint customer and you’re interested in Valet View, you can check out ChargePoint’s website to get more info on its services.