Electric Vehicles: A Limiting Experience & Poor UI Leads to Limited Freedom

Charging Stations Present the Most Important Touchpoint to Maximize EV Usability

Pure electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity in some markets, but also present challenges for engineers and designers. Cluster and cockpit HMI, mobile app interfaces, and charging station interfaces must be designed with the specific needs of EV users in mind. A new report from the In-vehicle UX (IVX) group atn Strategy Analytics surveying current owners of pure EVs, “UX of Pure EVs: Can Incentives Overcome Pain Points?” has found that the top purchase motivation for an electric vehicle was to save on costs. The cost of maintaining an EV was perceived by owners to be lower than the cost of maintaining an internal combustion engine.

Key report findings include:

  • Limited range is a source of anxiety for first-time EV buyers, especially those who are unfamiliar with their driving habits, or have longer commutes. However anxiety was quickly overcome after a short period of ownership.
  • Pure EVs were almost exclusively used for short journeys on surface streets within a town, across a town, or to an adjacent city. Owners of Teslas and Bolts displayed slightly different tendencies, due to their longer range and Tesla’s supercharging network.
  • EV owners have unique routing needs, as well as desires for rest and/or charging stops. While some stations are placed and designed optimally like the supercharging network reported by Tesla owners, overall, charging stations are not currently standardized or optimized for first-time use.
  • Even in EVs, very few integrated navigation systems provide desirable information relevant to an EV user. Up-to-date charging station and point of interest information is vital; and as with any connected service in the car, must be accessible in a practical and usable way.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author commented, “Outside the cockpit, charging stations present the most important touchpoint with respect to EV usability. Furthermore, in order to cover all key use cases and maximize usability for EV owners, any charge-finder app must provide information on proximity to a pre-defined route, availability, compatibility, and time-to-charge. For next EV design iterations, wireless charging would resolve many plug compatibility issues.”

Added Chris SchreinerDirectorSyndicated Research UXIP, “But it is apparent that current companion apps fall short. To find a functional charger for their vehicle which is on a route or near a desired POI, EV owners must use several different connected services. This amount of planning places great time and effort on the user and is less than efficient. Any UI that elegantly surfaces information for common EV use cases would greatly streamline the out-of-car UX.”

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