Google Maps announced a whole host of upgrades back in 2022, including Immersive View, which brings a whole new visualisation to three-dimensional viewing. Now those upgrades are going to roll out, along with some additional new features.
However, when you're driving about in your EV and need a charge, it's this huge free Google Maps upgrade that will appeal far more. Announced on 8 February 2023, Google details in its blog how a new Maps upgrade will "make driving an EV easy".
"[Google is] seeing more drivers and auto companies move toward electric vehicles," reads the blog post. "As a result, [Google is] introducing new Maps features for EV drivers with vehicles that have Google built-in." Think Volvo XC40 Recharge, Polestar 2, and other such vehicles. Here are the key changes:
1. Very fast charging
The first, and most important change, is that very fast charging stations will be available by filter. So you can remove the busy nature of gazillions of distracting charging station options appearing on screen.
Google defines 'very fast' as 150kW or higher, which is about as fast as many currents EVs are capable of recharging anyway. Sure, newer models are now hitting the 240-300W level, but those charging stations will also be included.
You'll know why this fast-charging filter is important though: plug your EV into the 7kW charger on the side of your house and it'll take over half a day to recharge from low to nearly full. Which isn't going to cut it when you're going longer distances.
2. Charging stations in search
Beyond fast-charging filters, the update will also show in Maps search when venues feature on-site charging stations. They won't necessarily be fast, but they'll be there: like when Tesco supermarket car parks offer 7kW charging stations for free use, for example.
Sometimes those quick additional top-ups can be a real saver when you're out and about, doing some shopping and knowing you can juice up a bit extra while going about your day.
3. Adding charging stops
Google Maps is also getting a little wiser for adding charging stops. When you're driving and the vehicle knows it'll need a charging stop, Maps will suggest the best option based on factors including charge level, expected use and current traffic conditions.
Tesla has had such a system for a long time (along with its dedicated Superchargers), which has given it the early edge. Now the wider spectrum of EVs are starting to catch up thanks to Maps features such as this update, meaning you can worry less about range anxiety and charger location.