Mobile phone displaying electric vehicle charging app

Unhappy with your electric car’s mobile app? You’re not alone

For years, automakers have provided consumers with brand-centric smartphone apps to monitor their vehicle’s performance and maintenance needs. Regular app usage is highest among electric vehicle owners compared to gas-powered vehicle owners, but consumers overall aren’t happy with their app experiences, according to the 2022 OEM EV App Benchmark Study from Michigan-based data analytics company J.D. Power

“For the most part, owners are still very dissatisfied with the functionality and speed of the EV apps that are on the market,” Jason Norton, senior manager of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power, said in a news release.

The apps provide critical information like remaining vehicle battery charge and range, charging station locations, vehicle charging status, and route planning. But the available features might not be enough.

J.D. Power shared some key points from the study:

  • More than 50% of EV owners use their manufacturer’s app at least half the time they drive. About 70% of owners report using the app at least every other time they drive to monitor charging and available range. 85% still want to find public charging stations even though charging largely occurs at home.
  • EV owners want more app features, but currently only eight features are widely available. 
  • Ford’s EV app is ranked among the top performers, along with Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. By contrast, EV startups – including Rivian, whose manufacturing facility is in Illinois – are lagging with their app functionality, speed, and content.
  • Dealers could help boost app use by increasing engagement with customers and explaining app features. Almost one-third (32%) of EV owners report never using their app because they don’t know how.
  • Customers generally don’t want to pay for these apps. Many stop using their app when a free trial period ends.

The results have implications for how developers can improve technology and user experience. Negative experiences with a tool can be disappointing for customers and cause them to abandon using it – especially for features with critical functionality, such as monitoring driving range. 

Engaging with customers to determine their needs and desires for a particular technology and then incorporating those features could increase user satisfaction. Identifying and engaging with potential partners and stakeholders – in this case, dealers – also could result in greater technology uptake and long-term success.

“Manufacturers need greater focus on these critical areas, creating a user experience which aligns with other frequently used consumer apps. For instance, banking customers would probably not wait 60 seconds to view their account balances on their bank’s app, so why would EV owners wait that long to confirm that their vehicle doors are locked?” Norton said.