Electric car charging app: what you need to know in 2023!

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Charging App Toggle Title Screen

Do you always have your smartphone with you? Then an electric car charging app is the ideal companion. Thanks to flexibility and attractive additional functions, it's no surprise that charging apps are becoming increasingly popular. umschalten.de explains to you what's important about an electric car charging app and what advantages you have!

Table of contents

Paying at charging stations: You have these options!

Many e-car drivers are overwhelmed by the variety of options for paying at a charging station. A basic distinction is made between spontaneous charging without a contract (also called ad hoc charging) and charging with a contract. These options can in turn be used via charging cards, charging apps, charging chips or online portals/websites. Plug & Charge is the only option that works without a card or app and is available with a contract commitment. Authorization takes place via the exchange of digital certificates between the charging station and the vehicle.

Ad hoc charging or contracted charging: These are the differences

The two biggest differences between ad hoc and contract-based charging are price and spontaneity. Contract-based charging is based on a contract that often includes a basic fee, but also offers various additional attractive conditions, such as a lower price per kilowatt hour at the charging station or a reduced blocking fee. Ad hoc charging is possible completely without prior registration, but is somewhat more expensive in direct comparison to contract-based charging. Both variants can be used with a charging app.

What is a charging app?

A charging app is basically the most practical payment option at charging stations, as it also allows you to find charging points, check their occupancy, select the payment method and view your own bills. The principle of payment is the same as for the popular charging cards. Only an additional card in the wallet is no longer necessary thanks to the implementation as an app. This often eliminates any costs that may be incurred for providing the charging card. Delivery by mail is also no longer necessary; a charging app can be downloaded quite spontaneously at any time. Of course, spontaneous ad hoc charging is also possible at any time. Useful: An e-car charging app always gives you an overview of the current prices at the charging stations!

It is also possible to combine the charging card and app in one contract. So you can choose at any time.

What should you look for in a charging app?

According to Stiftung Warentest, the test criteria that make up a good electric car charging app are as follows:

  1. Search for and use charging stations (weighting 70 %)
  • The most important functions of a charging app. How well does the charging app find suitable charging stations and information about their availability and costs?
  1. Ease of use and versatility (weighting 20 %)
  • What features does the charging app offer and what about the user-friendliness?
  1. Basic protection of personal data (weighting 10 %)
  • What data is collected by the charging app during use?

In addition to these comprehensive test criteria, however, the respective basic fee and charging prices should always be taken into account for contract-based charging. Here it is important to calculate for each individual situation whether and to what extent these costs are personally relevant for a charging app and which charging app with which tariff perfectly suits one's own requirements.

Example calculation:
EnBW and SachsenEnergie each with 5,000 km vs. 15,000 km mileage per year. (ID.3, consumption: 19.3 kWh / 100 km)

An evaluation of the prices of different charging tariff providers is only insufficiently feasible without a prior analysis of one's own driving profile and the existing charging infrastructure, as our sample calculation shows.

For an annual mileage of 5,000 km, SachsenEnergie offers an absolute best price of just under €435, whether with or without a contract. However, this only applies if you charge exclusively at SachsenEnergie AC charging stations. If there are only AC charging stations in your area anyway, this would of course not be a disadvantage. SachsenEnergie's prices are also impressive when charging at different charging infrastructures (in our case 45% AC, 45% DC and 10% roaming): €508 with contract and €475 without contract. In comparison, the cheapest EnBW tariff "Ladetarif M" is €545 or €552 with 10% roaming. In this range of annual mileage, it is often the smaller or no-contract rates that are also the cheapest, regardless of the provider.

The situation is different for an annual mileage of 15,000 km. Here, it is often the larger or contract-based tariffs that end up being cheaper. Once again, the lowest price is found at SachsenEnergie. The contract-based tariff costs you just under €1,188 if you only charge at SachsenEnergie AC charging stations. In contrast to use on short trips, however, charging exclusively at AC charging stations without roaming or fast charging is probably unrealistic, especially on long trips. The mixed calculation of AC, DC and roaming is more realistic. In terms of price, we are then at €1,405 for SachsenEnergie's contract-based rate. For real frequent drivers, the EnBW tariff "Ladetarif L" could be an attractive alternative. The more you drive, the more likely it is to be worthwhile to have a supraregional charging rate for long distances in addition to a regional one. For 15,000 km of driving, you pay €1,344 here or €1,376 with 10% roaming.

As you can see, the choice of the perfect tariff is always a very individual one. The one perfectly fitting tariff rarely exists. Think about the possibility of combining different tariffs, so you can save yourself money!

SachsenEnergie Contract forms 5,000 km annual mileage 15,000 km annual mileage
Electricity refueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations with contract: (AC only)
435 €
Best price regional
1.188 €
Best price regional
Electricity refueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations with contract: (DC only)
532 €
1.477 €
Electricity refueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations with contract: (45% AC, 45% DC, 10% roaming)
508 €
1.405 €
Electricity refueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations without contract: (AC only)
434 €
1.448 €
Electricity refueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations without contract: (DC only)
483 €
1.448 €
ElectricityFueling at SachsenEnergie charging stations without contract: (45% AC, 45% DC, 10% ad-hoc charging at charging stations of third-party operators). (*No fixed roaming tariff, we calculate with 0,65 ct/kWh)
475 €
1426 €
EnBW tariff variants 5,000 km annual mileage 15,000 km annual mileage
Charging tariff S
589 €
1.766 €
Charge tariff S (+10% roaming)
593 €
1.778 €
Charge tariff M
545 €
1.490 €
Charge tariff M (+10% roaming)
552 €
1.442 €
Charging tariff L
592 €
1.344 €
For frequent drivers
Charging tariff L (+10% roaming)
602 €
1.376 €

Charge your e-car with the app: This is how it works with the SachsenEnergie StromTanken app!

Regardless of whether you want to take advantage of the favorable contract conditions or spontaneously try out the StromTanken app from SachsenEnergie: You benefit throughout Germany from a variety of useful functions and simple, intuitive use when charging your e-car. Simply select the desired charging point in the StromTanken app or scan the appropriate QR code at the charging station directly in the app. Then click on the "Charge for a fee" button and plug in the charging cable when the display for the activated charging point appears. If charging is to take place without registration, the desired payment method must also be selected in an intermediate step. And you're ready to go!

Functions of the StromTanken charging app

These practical functions are offered by the StromTanken!


StromTanken App: Intuitive operation

What is the best charging app for the electric car?

The perhaps somewhat unsatisfactory answer to this question is: The charging app that best fits the personal usage profile. Although Stiftung Warentest tries to get to the bottom of this question as objectively as possible, personal preferences are still the decisive factor in the end. With a charging app, it is important to combine the best price at the charging station and useful additional functions in an app that is as practical as possible. In the first instance, you can't go wrong with one of the test winners from Stiftung Warentest, but you should still test the e-car charging apps yourself and also include apps from regional charging point providers to find your own favorite!

Route planning via the charging app - does it really work?

Planning charging stops based on a predefined route via the charging app is a popular additional function that many apps offer. In principle, it can be said that this type of route planning via the charging app works. In practice, however, it is not uncommon for inaccurate charging stop planning to occur due to incorrect range specifications from the manufacturers and the resulting incorrectly calculated consumption. Both manufacturers and third-party providers are aware of this problem. They are actively working on improvements. So that important vehicle data, such as the battery level, can be recorded by the apps, the interfaces in the car for this (Apple CarPlay / Android Auto) are to be optimized and thus simplify communication between the e-car and external technology.

Logo Saxony Energy-1c
Charge card or app banner

E-car charging convenient and

Power refueling via charging card or app

Plug & Charge: The charging solution of the future?

With Plug & Charge, the electric car identifies itself automatically via the plug during the charging process. This is made possible by communication in accordance with ISO standard 15118, an international series of standards that defines the bidirectional exchange between e-vehicles and charging stations. More and more car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche are focusing on this trend. Perhaps Plug & Charge will become the new standard in the not too distant future, and it will be impossible to imagine life without it.

The charging app: The Swiss army knife for e-cars

In addition to the charging app, there are many other ways to pay at charging stations, such as charging cards, charging chips or Plug & Charge. But what makes the electric car charging app stand out are the practical additional functions. Route planner, availability info, filter plug types, view processes and easily pay via app are just some of the advantages of using a charging app. All of this on a smartphone, a device that most people probably already have with them at all times anyway. If it continues to spread in the future as we hope, Plug & Charge could be a really easy alternative. But until that happens, the e-car charging app with all its practical functions is the "Swiss army knife" for all e-car drivers!


If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact us at frag@umschalten.de!

A contribution by Eric Wegner

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