What is a route planner and why is it essential?

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In an electric car, as soon as the trips exceed the real autonomy of the vehicle, charging on the road becomes necessary. To facilitate travel, a route planner is essential. Let’s see together what the different manufacturers offer and distinguish the good from the bad students.

Renault Megane E-Tech // Source: Frandroid – Renault

If the electric vehicle does not add constraints to daily life, long trips are very different. In fact, even if the fast charging network has become denser in France and in Europe, it is clear that you should always plan your trip well to avoid unpleasant surprises.

An essential companion for long journeys is therefore the famous route planner. Some manufacturers offer an on-board system that takes vehicle limits into account, where others seem to be bad students, leaving drivers alone. Let’s take a detailed look at the proposals of the different manufacturers and imagine future developments.

What can I do without an integrated route planner?

Too many vehicles still being sold today do not have a proper route planner.. Of course, they have a GPS navigation system that clearly indicates the directions, but this is not enough when you have to travel hundreds of kilometers in an electric car.

In practice, therefore the driver cannot rely solely on their vehicle’s infotainment system, and must use third-party services to find where to charge. Imagine instead: you get behind the wheel of your new Nissan Ariya, Renault Zoe or even MG4, pulling into your destination 500 kilometers away. Except maybe info like what, you won’t have enough battery to get there safely, you won’t have anything else.

In these still too numerous cases, planning tools such as A Better Route Planner or Chargemap are essential. We also have a sheet that explains in detail how to tame these tools, so it’s easy to consider long trips aboard your new connected car.

Some manufacturers rely on a companion mobile app for their part to be able to send a destination to the vehicle, like Kia or Hyundai, but this is far from enough. It is only possible to enter a destination and send it to the vehicle, which will not automatically add charging stops when necessary.

Onboard planners still leave a lot to be desired

Fortunately, some brands stand out and offer a satisfying experience —although imperfect— to the owners. Among these good students, we find Tesla, which takes advantage of its network of Superchargers to better guide the driver, as you can see in the short video below.

Route planning with additions of automatic charging stops at Tesla remains unmatched to this day. pic.twitter.com/Shcf4Fba5H

— Bob Jouy (@bobjouy) September 26, 2022

However, this level of assistance in planning a route is the bare minimum to be considered sufficient.. In fact, as soon as we delve a bit into what Tesla offers on its Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y today, we notice major oversights.

Tesla still has work to do

First of all, the charging stops offered are only offered on the Tesla Supercharger networkwhich requires in most cases to make a detour to be able to charge, where Totalenergies, Ionity, Fastned and others are located in highway areas.

bathroom, nothing can be customized : By default, the onboard system considers it acceptable to arrive at your destination with less than 20% battery. However, in many cases, the first fast charging station can be inaccessible if you arrive with such a low battery. Therefore, the driver must anticipate your movements on the spot. know to what percentage of battery to charge during the last shutdown to have peace of mind.

Finally, for many months, Tesla has listed third-party charging stations well and pre-conditions the battery when one of these chargers has entered navigation, but the route planner does not take into account the fact that we are going to load at this place! Thus, if you manually enter several Ionity terminals successively separated by 100 kilometers, and the final destination is too far to go there in one go, the on-board system tells you that there is not enough battery to reach the destination, as if the stops at the terminals were just stages without recharging.

As Tesla is computers on wheels, we are not immune to a good surprise soon, with improvements in the different points mentioned, but For now, another manufacturer is doing much better than the American firm.

Mercedes does better than Tesla has its own game

The best route planner right now is offered by Mercedes, which fixes on all the negative aspects of Tesla. Not only are the charging time and battery level before and after charging clearly indicated on the screen, but all this is customizable to your liking.

If you’re the adventurous type, you might indicate a very low battery level to optimize charging time. You can choose the charging networks you prefer, and all the indications are clear. By the end of 2022, the Mercedes route planner will be the market benchmark. We could appreciate it behind the wheel of the Mercedes EQS, or the Mercedes EQE more recently.

What functions are important?

Examining in detail the proposals of Tesla and Mercedes, but also tools like A Better Route Planner, we can delete important items from route plannersthat we would like to see arrive today in a more massive way aboard electric vehicles.

First of all, take into account the desired battery levels upon arrival at each terminal, but also at the final destination It’s very important. In fact, some will be comfortable with a small percentage of battery remaining before charging, while others will prefer to be more careful and not go below the 20% mark, for example.

The terminals offered by the vehicle must take into account its fast charging capacity. Offering a Ford Mustang Mach-e to stop for several hours at an 11 kW charging station is no use, when Ionity terminals delivering up to 350 kW are nearby. We deliberately draw the line towards the ridiculous, but these cases are anything but fictional: it happens in reality, unfortunately.

Mercedes EQS charging in an Ionity terminal // Source: Romain Heuillard for Frandroid

Choice of networks to be used should be allowedsince the current jungle of recharge cards is such that certain networks will be favored due to their ease of use, their geographical location, or because the holders have a preferential rate subscription.

Real-time display of terminal availability It is essential information, which must be displayed. On busy days, to avoid queuing at a charging station when another is almost empty a few dozen kilometers away, it is essential to see the number of available terminals live. The information already exists, and is visible in the applications of each recharging operator, you just have to share it so that manufacturers can access it. Likewise, it is a necessity to clearly show the terminals that are out of service.

Finally, display the charge rate directly on the vehicle screen it’s a little extra that we’d like to see happen more massively. At the moment, only Tesla with its network of Superchargers allows you to see this price information live.

A future where everything remains to be done

As you can see, there is still a long way to go for all the players in electric mobility if they want to offer navigation in line with the expectations of drivers. Electric vehicles are now becoming increasingly capable of long journeys, in particular thanks to the increasing density of fast charging stations.

However, with the current limitations and the possibilities that today’s connected vehicles allow, it is essential to offer a route planner worthy of the name to attract an ever-growing clientele. At the dawn of 2023, having to rely on external websites, different mobile apps and other charging cards to go on a journey in an electric car should no longer be acceptable.

That is why we have made the decision not to give a score higher than 8/10 to an electric car that does not have a route planner.

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