Electric Vehicles

‘Alexa, charge my electric vehicle’ now an option for some EV owners

For owners of electric vehicles who charge their EVs at home using a ChargePoint Home charger, “Alexa, charge my electric vehicle” has likely become a frequent command they give to the virtual assistant before retiring for the night.

Taking advantage of the growth in interconnected devices in homes, EV charging network ChargePoint teamed up with Amazon’s Alexa about a year and a half ago to provide EV owners with a variety of tools that can help them manage their vehicles through Alexa.

Other companies are also looking to link EV owners with virtual assistants. Smart energy technology company SolarEdge in January said its EV-charging solar inverter can be controlled with the Google Assistant.

How Alexa works with a ChargePoint Home charger

Alexa and a residential ChargePoint Home charger can communicate via WiFi. Homeowners with Alexa can ask the “virtual assistant” to start or stop charging their electric vehicle, find out if their car is plugged in as well as check on the charging status and how many miles have been added during charging.

Alexa can also see how much money was spent on charging and what a ChargePoint account balance is.

Alexa offers EV owners both convenience and peace of mind, leading to increased product use, according to Vik Mehta, director of product management for ChargePoint’s residential portfolio.

Mehta said, for example, in the amount of time it takes to say a few words, a homeowner can check that their car is plugged in before going to bed or change a charging schedule.

“It makes life a lot easier,” Mehta said.

In another sign of growing connectivity around EVs, ChargePoint also offers an app for finding charging stations, checking station status and availability, and for being notified when charging spots are open.

SolarEdge says EV-charging solar inverter can be controlled with Google Assistant

Meanwhile, SolarEdge in February said its EV-charging solar inverter can be controlled with the Google Assistant.

“Smart homes have mainly been about convenience and interconnectivity, but the next step of the smart home is integrating smart energy management, such as EV charging," said Lior Handelsman, SolarEdge’s vice president of marketing and product strategy.

Currently, consumers can tell the Google Assistant to start and stop electric vehicle charging, but Fremont, California-based SolarEdge plans to add commands such as asking about charging status, checking average miles charged during a charging session and pre-schedule charging.

Increased connectivity opens up avenues for utilities to engage with customers

Increased connectivity is opening up avenues for utilities to engage with their customers, according to James Ellis, senior director for utility solutions at ChargePoint.

“Connectivity enables new transportation options,” Ellis says. “The trend is opening up new business opportunities for utilities … by connecting to consumers where they live.”

ChargePoint is involved in two key trends that affect electric utilities: the increasing use of “smart” home technology and growing electric vehicle sales. Last year, about 360,000 electric vehicles were sold in the United States, up from about 200,000 in 2017, according to EV-volumes.com, which tracks electric vehicle sales.

And 35 percent of smart home owners, which make up 8 percent of all broadband homes in the United States, use a hub, such as Alexa, or an app to control their smart home devices, according to a Jan. 31 report by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The rise of voice control, paired with the growth in number of connected devices in the home, has helped push more households toward centralized control,” said Dina Abdelrazik, a Parks Associates research analyst.