Like most people, I have been installing and using apps on my phone for what seems like forever now. I have a few favorites, but the novelty of apps wore off a long time ago. I remember a time when it was so amazing to be able to turn off the lights in my house with an app or control my music, but now that we live in that world, it’s not as compelling anymore.
With electric cars, the need for an app is a little more obvious. After testing the Mercedes-Benz EQB 300 electric for a week, it dawned on me that the future will be even more dominated by apps on our phones than ever. One of the main reasons is that we will need to keep tabs on the vehicle. During my tests, I connected up to a charging station and sat nearby in a coffee shop, but it was really helpful to be able to check the charge status, make sure the doors were locked, and check on a few other features while I sipped my dark roast blend.
Mercedes offers the Mercedes Me Connect app and it worked wonderfully. After logging in to a test account, I was able to instantly see the charge level and even watch as the car added more range in real-time. It’s actually fun to monitor the charge state while you sit off in the distance. You can start and stop the engine, lock and unlock the doors, find the vehicle on the map (even if it is sitting right outside of a window), and — of course — check the range.
Apps will become even more important in the future when it comes to electric vehicles. They are roving tech marvels, and the EQB 300 is chief among them, but they will also need to sit at a charging station for long periods. Eventually, I suspect EVs will evolve into something we don’t quite recognize today. A place to work? A hotspot for an entire team? How about a massive server on board that we use like a data center? That’s a stretch for sure, but the electric car market is opening up new ideas for how these vehicles could be used when they are idle.
And they will have to be idle. In my area, a level two charger sits in a large parking area and is rarely used by anyone…except me. It took about an hour to add 25 miles, which is funny because it meant I drank a lot of coffee. I’ve also been known to drive about 45 miles away to a fast charger — which can “fuel up” an EV in about an hour — then drive home — which actually takes less time to recharge than the level two charger, including the drive time. The downside is on the way home, the range drops another 45 miles, but still. We have to start thinking outside of the norm. I was impressed at how the Mercedes Me app kept tabs on my charging the whole time, and I found myself checking frequently almost as an experiment.
On a few other trips, I drove the EQB 300 all the way to downtown Minneapolis and once to an auditorium for a concert. Major bonus there — at the auditorium parking they have spots reserved for EV charge right at the entrance, and they were all open. I connected up to a level two charger again and by the time I was ready to head home, I was at 100% again. I used the app at the concert and left as soon as the vehicle hit about 95% charge.
I firmly believe the infrastructure for EVs will change rapidly in the next few years. That’s because EVs are hitting the market at a rapid pace now, in early 2023. A few years ago some of us predicted an influx and that chargers would pop-up all over the place, but this time the automakers seem quite serious about launching electric-powered vehicles. Once everyone starts buying them, the chargers will show up at malls, grocery stores, and libraries. In fact, I imagine whole parking lots full of charging stations. That’s a sea change for sure. We’ll see if I’m right about all of this, but it will likely evolve quickly this decade.