Volvo is launching an in-car app that offers a more convenient way for owners of its electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to recharge their cars and SUVs. Accessible through the automaker's Google Android Auto Operating System, the new app allows drivers to initiate and pay for charging sessions from behind the steering wheel, eliminating the driver's need to reach for their smartphone or a payment card ahead of EV charging.
ChargePoint and Volvo Car Technology developed the new app to simplify the charging process. The 2021 XC40 Recharge electric SUV is the first vehicle to make the app available, but starting with the 2022 model year, the C40 Recharge, XC60 Recharge, and redesigned XC90 Recharge will also offer the easier way to charge the vehicle.
In addition to remotely starting a charging session, the app enables drivers to search for and navigate to an available charging station within ChargePoint's network. ChargePoint says it offers more than 100,000 charging locations in the U.S. and Canada, plus additional stations from partners EVgo, FLO, and others, bringing the app's accessible infrastructure to include more than 80% of charging stations across North America. The app further streamlines the charging process by combining the various networks into a single user account for each vehicle owner.
Operating the free app is simple. Once the Volvo owner downloads it to the vehicle via Google Play and adds a payment method, the app is ready to use. It will automatically search for a nearby charging station whenever the battery drops to a pre-set remaining charge level, as determined by the driver. At that point, the vehicle's touchscreen infotainment display will show the nearest available charging stations and, after the driver selects one, will begin navigation via Google Maps.
On arrival, the driver selects the correct charger from an on-screen list. The charging session will automatically accept the payment method and unlock the charging station for the session to begin. At that point, the driver can exit the vehicle and plug the car into the terminal. Charging will commence.
Aside from the newly introduced ChargePoint app, Volvo is expanding the availability of the new Android-powered infotainment system with Google across its model lineup. The XC40 Recharge was the first vehicle to have this system, but in 2022 the C40 Recharge, XC60 midsize SUV, and S90/V90 models add the powerful infotainment technology. The redesigned 2022 XC90 will also have the Google Android Auto Operating System.
As part of this expansion of the technology, Volvo also introduces the Digital Services Package. This package integrates a Google Assistant natural voice recognition system and digital assistant and equips the vehicle with Google Maps, Google Play, and a wireless phone charger, among other features. The Digital Services Package is free for the first four years and then requires a paid subscription.