As the adoption of electric vehicles has grown, so has the availability of EV-specific apps for CarPlay. There are a number of excellent CarPlay apps that help take your EV experience to the next level, including planning trips, finding chargers, and more. Read on for the growing list of CarPlay apps that every EV owner should check out.
EVs that support CarPlay
Most every EV on the market offers support for Apple’s CarPlay platform, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, The Volkswagen ID.4, the Kia EV6, the Chevy Bolt, and plenty of others. Two of the major exceptions here are Tesla and Rivian, neither of which support CarPlay and neither of which have shown any indication they plan to add CarPlay support.
CarPlay, for those unfamiliar, is Apple’s platform that basically mirrors your iPhone to your car’s infotainment system. You can access specific apps designed for CarPlay, including first-party apps from Apple, third-party apps in a handful of different categories, and interact with Siri.
For a breakdown of the best CarPlay apps across all App Store categories, be sure to check out our in-depth roundup right here.
Apple is also planning a major revamp for CarPlay that will start hitting the first supported cars sometime in late 2023. This “next generation of CarPlay” provides content for all of the driver’s screens in a car, including the instrument cluster. It will also add support for vehicle-specific features like climate controls and drive modes.
The best EV apps for CarPlay
Edit: EV routing in Apple Maps is currently only supported on the Ford Mustang Mach-E. I did not know this, and I hope Apple is working swiftly to expand the feature to other cars.
If you’re an Apple Maps user who wants to stick with Apple’s platform for navigation, the company has done an excellent job of adopting some EV-specific features over the last several years. As you’d expect, these EV-specific features are also supported via CarPlay. This also includes support for multi-stop navigation routes, which is a feature added in iOS 16 this year at long last.
The headlining feature here is support for electric vehicle routing, which means the Maps app can help you plan trips that include support for charging stops for your EV. Apple Maps, when your iPhone is connected to CarPlay, can track your car’s charge level. In some cases, you might also need to download your car manufacturer’s app from the App Store.
Apple Maps takes into account a number of different factors to determine when and how often you need to charge. This includes the availability of chargers, the speed of those chargers, elevation levels, your driving speed, and more. It will then automatically insert charging stops along your route. Additionally, if you drive until your charge gets too low, Apple Maps will present an alternative route to the nearest charging station.
To make sure you’re using all of the available EV features in Apple Maps, update your iPhone to iOS 16, which is available as a free download.
Google Maps offers a handful of features for EV drivers, but not to the level of Apple Maps or some of the other apps on the market. For instance, Google Maps on CarPlay doesn’t offer support for electric vehicle routing. The app doesn’t have access to your car’s battery data and won’t route you to EV chargers on a long drive.
Google Maps does offer a feature that picks the most efficient routes for EVs. The app will ask you to select your car’s “engine type,” and you can choose “electric” from the list of options. Google Maps will then pick routes that are the most energy-efficient, while also still factoring in traffic and other data points.
Google Maps also includes support for manually finding EV charging stations. It will show a few helpful details for these chargers, as well, including connector types and charging speeds. Some stations in Google Maps will also show whether a charger is available or if all of the spots are full.
If your car has Google Maps natively built-in (meaning outside of CarPlay), the EV features are more advanced. That’s unfortunately not the case for using the Google Maps app through CarPlay. Hopefully, this is something that will change in the future.
- App Store: Google Maps
Like Google Maps, Waze has a pretty lackluster selection of features for electric cars and this is true for the Waze app via CarPlay as well. The only thing Waze offers for EV owners is the ability to find nearby charging locations and chargers along your current route.
My belief is that Waze is best used alongside another navigation app. But as Apple Maps has continued to add Waze-style features, I’ve found myself relying on it less and less. The lackluster support for EV features doesn’t help the situation, either.
- App Store: Waze
A Better Route Planner
If you’re an EV driver and haven’t tried out A Better Route Planner, commonly referred to as ABRP, you’re missing out. It’s a powerful routing app and service for EV owners that offers more granularity and control over your route than any other option on the market. I’ve yet to find any app that creates plans as accurately as ABRP, nor one that offers the level of control as ABRP.
ABRP allows you to select your vehicle model, enter a destination, and get a full trip plan, including charging stops, total charging time, total trip time, and much more. You can use the app as your main navigation interface via CarPlay, allowing you to see your plan in real-time. This can factor in changes, traffic, and other things that might affect your route and charging plan.
If you don’t want to use ABRP for navigation, you can create your plan in ABRP, then use a different app for navigation to each of the ABRP stops, like Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze. Having all of this information accessible via CarPlay is a huge help while driving. You can also view a report after your trip that breaks down the drive time, charging time, and how they compare to the planned estimates.
ABRP is a free download with a $4.99 per month subscription ($49.99 per year) to unlock full functionality. If you’re an EV driver, this is the easiest $5 a month you can spend, in my opinion.
- App Store: A Better Route Planner
Electrify America is the largest alternative to Tesla’s Supercharger network, offering nearly 800 charging stations across the United States. The company offers a CarPlay app that makes it easy to find Electrify America charging stations nearby; the app can also route you directly to those charging stations.
In addition to helping you locate charging stations, the Electrify America app also presents some information about those stations. This includes things like the number of chargers available, charging speeds, the available connector types, pricing, idle fees, and more. There are also filtering options available for most of these things as well. For instance, you can filter nearby charging stations to show only chargers that have charging speeds of a certain threshold.
Additionally, you can use the Electrify America app via CarPlay to pick a specific stall at the charging location and initiate charging. This unlocks more of a “plug-and-play” style charging experience and means you don’t have to use your iPhone to do it.
Unfortunately, as of now, the Electrify America app for CarPlay doesn’t show any information while your car is charging. You’ll have to jump to your car’s native charging interface to do this or use the Electrify America app on your iPhone. The CarPlay app will, however, tell you when your car is done charging.
- App Store: Electrify America
ChargePoint is similar to Electrify America in that its app is focused on its own network of chargers. Therefore, many of the same features that are available in Electrify America app for its chargers are also available in ChargePoint for its network: finding nearby chargers, filtering those locations, favoriting chargers, and more.
ChargePoint also offers a similar “Start Charging” button for its network of chargers via CarPlay. The app will contact the charger, start the session, then prompt you to plug in your car. Charging will then start without any further interaction from you.
- App Store: ChargePoint
PlugShare s a popular third-party service that aggregates electric vehicle charging stations across all networks and types. It’s by far the most powerful platform for locating charging stations of all types, ranging from 120V outlets in random locations to Electrify America and Tesla Supercharger information.
The CarPlay app for PlugShare offers many of the same features as the PlugShare app for iPhone. You can view nearby chargers with in-depth details on things like the number of stalls, plug types, and more. PlugShare will also show the average review score from other PlugShare users for a charging location, which can help you weed out locations that aren’t currently working.
- App Store: PlugShare
If you’re an EV driver, you’re likely familiar with the process of trying to find a parking spot at your final destination that offers EV charging. This is especially useful if you know you have a long drive after you finish doing whatever you’re doing at that location, as you can return to a car that’s fully charged.
SpotHero is a CarPlay app that include the ability to filter parking locations based on the availability of EV chargers. Using this, you can ensure that your parking garage or parking location will have EV chargers available.