One of the challenges that every electric vehicle (EV) faces is its range. Many potential buyers fear that they will be caught off guard when their vehicle simply runs out of charge and will be left stranded. Now, you can use your smartphone to track your range availability.

A number of EV manufacturers have produced apps to work directly, and exclusively, with specific vehicles. Chevy has its Volt app, Nissan has its Leaf app, etc. Additionally, the makers of EV charging stations have developed apps meant to be used with any EV. The apps are intended to be used outside the vehicle and are engineered to communicate with paired vehicles to control scheduling or starting charging sessions or simply to turn on the vehicle’s air-conditioner or heater while the vehicle is plugged in. This allows owners to cool or warm the cabin without draining the battery.

By 2012 the apps are expected to be widespread with Chevrolet, Nissan, Ford, Audi, BMW, Honda, Toyota and Volvo all offering apps. These apps may not sway buyers from one EV to another, but should help lure a few more buyers in general.  That said, the necessity for these applications shows that Americans are still not quite comfortable without the “backup” that a gasoline hybrid gives them.  For instance, the existence of a gas-combustion engine acts as a sort of Toyota Prius insurance policy. Before EV’s can rival hybrids in sales, US consumers will have to get acclimated to the lack of backup fossil fuel power.

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