Yes they are fixing things! The iOS App was offline for quite a while, that has been restored. And now they even have an update for the Android app that fixes the issues with the API for fetching nearby chargers. This hasn’t been published for iOS just yet but is likely just a matter of time.
From the logs within the Android App I could see they had a missing or faulty API key for authorizing the chargers API. So for end users going to the map they would never get any nearby chargers displayed.
The best part of this feature is that you get notified on the dashboard of the motorcycle when you’re close to a charger, at least if your phone is connected over bluetooth. Seems like an awesome feature to have. But because no chargers were found it never showed anything.
Putting this feature to the test
So I posted about this feature working again in the Energica Facebook group. That was the first place I turned to when I discovered the feature in the manual and couldn’t get it to work. Back then already long term owners reported they’ve seen it working and didn’t find it very useful due to the limited output you get on the display.
And indeed a very quick ride around the church, where a charger is located in my village, showed that the arrows are hard to see and nothing but a rough indication on where to go. The distance helps to choose what one to ride to. But more tests were performed later on that day. Cause I was challenged on Facebook by user Jeffrey from the Netherlands to go out and find chargers this way.
So I accepted that challenge and in the evening jumped back on the bike and started looking for chargers riding into a direction where I never charged before.
The first charger I expected to be on the parking lot near the church of another small village. So I drove up that parking lot and couldn’t find any chargers while looking around. So I continued on a road that followed the direction of the arrow on the screen. That way I came to another parking lot behind the church.
This time the indication on the dashboard was at 0.0 km and the arrow was pointing to my left. All I could see on my left was something that looked like a very over designed dustbin. At the end of the parking lot I turned around and got off the bike to inspect that dustbin. Turned out to be a charger after all :D.
Not that I was able to make it work. It was clearly hit by a car parking there. On chargemap it was marked as out of service. I couldn’t even open up the latch so I’m not sure if it should’ve worked at that point. This was the first time I saw this type of charger.
Instead I continued to the next one. I was heading towards a city now so I imagined having lots of chargers around making the find easier, or maybe more difficult, we’ll see. I drove through that city following the arrows and all that time I saw the exact same 5 chargers on my display. And it wasn’t even picking up any new ones while was passing there. I ended up in another small village further on.
I recognized the logo of that previous charger on a building so I drove up on the parking lot and indeed it had the exact same charger. Only this time it was covered by a sticker telling me it was out of service. Also this time there was a red light on top. That previous one didn’t have the light so was probably not even connected.
It’s not perfect though
So there are some issues with this system. It does work for what it is designed, it can help you find chargers near by following simple arrows and a distance indication.
What doesn’t work is that there is also a traffic light icon in that list of top 5 nearest chargers and for all the chargers in my list that was a green light. I would think that corresponds to the availability but the 2 chargers I did go to were both out of service. So not sure if that part works. If it just indicates no one is charging then it works but still isn’t useful for broken chargers.
The other issue is that the API it gets data from is not really up to date. There are a lot of missing chargers. Well that might be the reason for the previous problem also. If you’re in trouble I would for sure look into chargemap also, they have a way better population and the availability was properly marked on that map.
And then the final issue I had was that the order is arranged by the distance you are from those chargers. So the closest one is always on top. That might work if you need to get to the closest one but it doesn’t work if you just left a, let’s say broken, charger and are now riding towards the second closest. At some point you’ll cross the middle point between these two charges and the one on position 2 and 1 will swap places.
Also there is a lot of screen real estate unused on this part of the dashboard. You have the limited information of the chargers on the left, a blank space and then on the right is your current speed. Looks like lots of room for improvement to incorporate more charge details? So that at least you can identify them when they swapped position.
Will I use this feature?
Personally I would filter the results to DC fast chargers only. From the settings in the app you can change to whatever type of charger you want. AC chargers on my location are so common that there is really no need to get notified. For DC chargers infrastructure is still growing and depending on where you need to be it can be tricky to find one on time.
Having those notifications on the dash, including distance and some basic navigation arrows makes a difference if you really need to find a charger nearby. However you need to have your phone connected with working Bluetooth, GPS and a Network connection… so you could as well be looking at a navigation app on that phone right?
And it’s not only the map visualisation on that phone screen that would make it more user friendly. If you use chargemap for instance you’ll get a lot more chargers and up to date information about their availability. Plus you can update in the app if you find a broken one that wasn’t reported yet.