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Charge your electric car with a smartphone.

Public charging stations for electric cars are getting easier to find, particularly in the Bay Area. But that doesn’t mean they’re convenient.

Most charge station networks want EV drivers to sign up and open an account before using a station. Many drivers prefer to avoid the hassle and do all their charging at home, said Forrest North, chief operating officer of Recargo.

Now a new version of Recargo’s popular PlugShare app will let EV drivers use public charging stations just by tapping their smartphones. No need to set up an account. Just drive up, pull out your phone, type your credit card number and plug the car in.

“It’s all about letting EV drivers go about their lives with ease and convenience,” North said. “This is designed to solve a problem that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Used by roughly 50,000 people per month, PlugShare already lets EV drivers locate nearby charging stations and share their home chargers with other electric enthusiasts. The app’s new version adds a feature that allows users to pay for each public charging session with Visa, MasterCard or Discover. It is available for iPhone starting this week, with iPad and Android versions expected by year’s end.

Of course, the system will only work with station networks that allow it. So far, just one network — SemaConnect — has agreed. The company, based in Maryland, has 34 charging stations in the Bay Area and about more than 600 scattered across North America.
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