Skip to main content

GM enhances app for Chevy Bolt to use public chargers, but it’s a work in progress

The myChevrolet mobile app allows drivers to do things like remote starts, unlock doors, and gain access to vehicle data. The app’s Energy Assist feature for Bolt EV drivers has been available since 2017. But GM over the past few months has been enhancing its features, including the presentation of dynamic information about a public charger’s status.

The company wants the myChevrolet app to become the only app a Bolt driver uses, but that might be a hard sell.

Kelly Helfrich, GM’s manager of EV charging and infrastructure, told us:

“The point of Energy Assist is to have functionality related to public CPOs (charging-point operators) in one place, and also integrate all the intelligent route-planning functionalities.”

The company acknowledges that enhancements for the many different public charging networks will roll out over time.

  • The location of every Bolt-compatible charging station, regardless of network, is available today.
  • Dynamic real-time information about the status of the charger is currently only available from ChargePoint and EVgo.
  • Dynamic data about EV Connect stations will be added soon, and others will follow.
  • The ability to initiate a charge and pay for it – without an RFID or credit card – is now only available via EVgo today. Chargepoint, EV Connect, and other eligible charging stations will come later in 2020.

Helfrich explained:

“You can’t deliver an app [with dynamic info for every network] overnight, which is why our strategy is to work with each CPO directly. We’re agnostic to any bilateral agreement. Our tech teams engage early and often so that we’re delivering the best experience.”

Charging station information can be projected from the app to the dashboard via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

GM says the ability for users to submit check-ins and reviews is “coming soon.” EV drivers have this same functionality available via PlugShare, a popular station-finding app that’s been active for nearly a decade. Moreover, the photos submitted in PlugShare can be extremely helpful for precisely finding the charger’s location. The myChevrolet app will not have a photos function.

Bolt charging

We asked Helfrich why GM decided to duplicate PlugShare functionality in the myChevrolet app, especially considering that Bolt drivers want to see historical information about stations. The bifurcation of charging reviews would defeat the purpose of having Bolt drivers use a single app. Check-ins from Bolt drivers using the myChevrolet app would not be seen by owners of non-Chevy EVs and vice-versa. The same is true for reviews.

Helfrich replied:

“Our app is to eliminate the need for the driver to have to toggle between Energy Assist and any other EV-related planning app. Because our app is integrated with data from the vehicle, you could never replicate what we’re able to do around intelligent route-planning and knowing precisely what the state of charge of your battery would be upon arrival at a destination.”

PlugShare has countless reviews already in its systems, but the myCheverolet app will only begin to add check-ins and reviews. “That’s going to get better with time as more people utilize the app,” said Helfrich.

I’m a Bolt driver. Here are some screen grabs from the app:

myChevrolet app - Energy Assist

Helfrich explained that partnerships with charging networks aren’t required to indicate the expected state of charge when arriving at a location. The app takes into account 17 different data points, including weather, driving terrain, driving history to inform drivers where they should stop and how long they need to stay plugged in.

Payments for charging sessions will be made possible through a linking feature, in which drivers enter EVgo account information and authentication into the app. The app can then be used to initiate and pay for the charging event.

The myChevrolet mobile app and the enhanced Energy Assist feature are available at no additional cost for 5 years from the vehicle delivery date. After 5 years, owners will need to enroll in a paid plan. For those who purchased their vehicle on or after May 1, 2018, owners can choose between the Remote Access plan for $14.99 per month or the Unlimited Access plan for $39.99 per month. Both plans include access to additional features.

Owners who purchased their vehicle before May 1, 2018, have a different selection of plans available.

Electrek’s Take

The ability for EV drivers to get trustworthy, accurate, real-time information has proven difficult for every automaker and charging provider. Even Tesla, which maintains its own Supercharger network rather than relying on feeds from third-party systems, faces challenges. My colleague Fred tweeted about his experience this week:

We asked GM how it would overcome these challenges. Helfrich said that GM has not run into any problems yet, replying:

“We are working directly with our CPO partners and do direct API integrations with all of them so we can be as up-to-date as we can on the status of the charging station that we’re displaying in our mobile app.”

“Because of how our partnerships are structured, we can work directly with them to solve it and enhance the experience for the customers.”

We appreciate GM’s confidence in tackling the challenges of pulling dynamic data into their app. And the sentiment to use a single app instead of separate ones provided by PlugShare and charging networks make sense – in spirit.

That would be nice. But as an EV driver for nearly a decade, I would never set out on a long road trip without duplicate apps loaded on my phone. Nothing usually goes wrong, but it’s better to have more info at hand. Even it means using multiple apps, which is really not a big deal.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.



Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.