Having to recharge a car's battery during a long trip is one of the hurdles users still face when buying an electric car, since charging stations aren't quite as commonplace as traditional gas stations. Recently, a company called StoreDot showed off battery technology that would dramatically reduce charging times for cars, but until that technology comes to real products, Google is making it easier to plan trips with charging stops in mind. The company is rolling out new features for Google Maps, specifically the version of the app built into select electric vehicles.
For longer trips where you'll need to recharge multiple times, Google Maps can quickly go through all the public charging stations near your route, and then calculate a new route that accommodates all the necessary charging stops in the most efficient way possible. This is all done automatically, and the app also lets users know how long charging should take, adding it to the overall ETA for the trip.
On the other hand, for smaller trips that only require one charge, Google Maps will show a few options for charging, and users can select their preferred charging stop from the suggestions. To make that decision easier, Maps also includes information about nearby coffee shops or grocery stores, in case users need to grab something while they wait.
Finally, some European users are getting an exclusive feature, the ability to see the payment methods accepted at each charging station. Apparently, it's harder to find a station that will take any kind of payment option in Europe, so this feature should make it easier to plan around that. This is only available in 12 countries at this time, but more will be added over time.
All of these features are rolling out to the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge, which run Android Automotive OS - which is different from Android Auto, a feature for Android phones to connect to car displays - and have Google Maps built in. Other car models are planned to use Android Automotive, though, and those should also have Google Maps installed.