South African app lets EV drivers find charging stations and pay for refills

Cape Town-based electric vehicle startup Zimi Charge has launched a mobile app that lets South African electric vehicle (EV) owners find public car charging stations and pay for their refills in-app.

The company plans to onboard a network of 10,000 public charging stations across South Africa, with 1,000 of its own targeted for rollout in the next three years.

It will offer customers both AC and DC fast chargers, with the former available in retail and urban centres and the latter mainly on national roads.

AC charging is slower than DC and is best suited for scenarios where the motorist might spend more time with their vehicle parked or only wants to top up with a few extra kilometres of range.

DC is preferred for faster stopovers — similar to a fuel stop — like when you want to take a long road trip and add plenty of kilometres quickly.

Zimi Charge is currently asking R4.99 per kWh on its AC fast chargers and plans to charge R5.99 per kWh for DC charging.

As it stands, Zimi Charge only has three AC charging stations, all located in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

These use a Type 2 connector and charge at 22kW, which means it would take roughly three hours to fill a medium-sized electric car battery from 0-100%.

The Zimi Charge mobile app, available on Android and iOS, features a map that lets users search for charging stations located near them.

They can then tap on the station to see what type of chargers are available at the location.

The app also lets users start and stop charging and pay for their refill using a bank card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

Zimi Charge will partner with renewable energy suppliers to provide power to some chargers.

The use of renewable power will be indicated alongside other charging station information.

Map (left), charging station information (middle), and “My account” details in the Zimi Charge app.

While building out its own infrastructure, Zimi Charge plans to onboard third-party chargers from other providers with existing footprints.

Alviva-owned GridCars currently operates the largest network of electric charging stations in South Africa, with over 300 charge points spread out across cities, towns, and next to major highways.

It also boasts the fastest chargers currently available in the country, offering up to 150kW DC charging on systems rolled out in partnership with Audi.

It does not offer a dedicated mobile app for tracking charging locations or making payments but recently integrated its network into Google Maps.

In addition to helping users navigate to the stations, Google Maps also shows the type and number of chargers available at GridCars station and whether they are available for charging in real-time.

GridCars also offers a live map on its website showing the locations and status of its chargers.

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South African app lets EV drivers find charging stations and pay for refills