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Case Plugit

The new mobile app places the driver at the center of electric vehicle charging

Plugit Finland is a leading provider of durable, cost-effective, and reliable electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions that work now and in the future. The company’s success is built on personal service combined with solid professionalism and the right choices of technology. When creating a new mobile application for Plugit’s customers, Plugit and Digia joined forces to put the EV driver at the center of the app’s design and development.

Plugit operates in a dynamic and intensely competitive environment where innovation and convenience for EV drivers are essential. The company aims to bring smart charging solutions where they are needed: to homes, workplaces, shopping centers, and to professional transporters. One of Plugit's driving ideas is that their customers don't need to be experts in charging – because Plugit is.

In the EV charging business, mobile apps have typically concentrated on efficiently connecting drivers to the continuously expanding public charging station network. This, however, was a paradigm that Plugit wanted to change about a year ago when they started to plan the modernization of their mobile app targeted at EV drivers.

What we did

What we used

  • Flutter

Plugit’s experts participated in a Digia-led workshop about Google’s open-source technology, Flutter. Based on that workshop, our developers were convinced both by the opportunities that Flutter offers as a technology and by Digia’s exceptional expertise and experience with Flutter.

Jan Walldén, Director of Technology, Plugit

Finding the right technology and partner for a paradigm shift

“We wanted to adhere to the rules and models of a modern platform business, which allows collaboration between different charging operators. In addition, we wanted to offer our EV drivers something different than what was on the market,” explains Mika Kuusisto, Product Manager for Plugit. 

Research shows that a vast majority of all EV charging happens at home, overnight. “Traditionally, however, EV charging apps center around finding the nearest public charging station,” Kuusisto states. Instead of focusing on the public charging stations, Plugit wanted their new application to concentrate on the charging places the driver uses most, i.e., their home, workplace, and most frequently visited public stations, as well as on the transparency of costs and emissions of charging.

In the fall of 2022, Plugit’s experts participated in a Digia-led workshop about Google’s open-source technology, Flutter. Flutter is a toolkit for building user interfaces for mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single codebase. “Based on that workshop, our developers were convinced both by the opportunities that Flutter offers as a technology and by Digia’s exceptional expertise and experience with Flutter,” commends Plugit’s Director of Technology, Jan Walldén. “We also knew Digia’s team is scalable yet agile enough for our needs. Also, in such a long-term collaboration, the rapport between the teams needed to be good.” Walldén says.

Charging application that grows to fulfill new needs

Plugit and Digia jointly designed Plugit’s new application to, first and foremost, cater to the needs of the EV driver. “We want the basic functionalities to be as easy as possible. Building with Flutter, we can, for example, take advantage of the mobile phone’s own features like language settings and camera for scanning QR codes or credit card information,” Kuusisto explains. “In the future, when you connect your car to the app, the app will tell you the car’s battery situation and give you recommendations for energy consumption and savings. Further, since the driver will find all information and help needed through the app, there will be fewer instances when contacting our customer service is needed.”

Going forward, Plugit wants to build new functionality to the app, like optimizing the car charging for the cheapest hours of electricity. Another development area is a specialty for Finland: supporting EV drivers whose taxable company car benefit also includes the energy used for driving. These drivers need to report their home charging costs to have them reimbursed. “Without the functionality in our app, reliably reporting the costs of home charging without massive manual work is practically impossible,” Kuusisto says.

In 2024, Plugit’s application will provide new services e.g. taxis and logistics companies, simplifying the bureaucracy attached to work-related charging. Going forward, Kuusisto also envisions the application to mitigate problems caused by the rapid development of charging business models and technologies, where everything is not always in sync. “EV drivers often interpret that hiccups with charging are caused by the application in use, even though the problem might be due to the charging stations’ dated technology or failure to connect to the network,” Kuusisto explains. With the new application, Plugit wants to offer the driver more information about such situations to prevent unnecessary frustration at the charging station.

Digia and Flutter’s future-proof toolkit fostering Plugit’s vision

The key group building the new application has included a few of Plugit’s professionals and a varying number of Digia’s experts for user interface design, software development, and other tasks. “We have been in the driver’s seat all the way, but Digia’s core team’s way of working, swift reaction times, and mental ownership for the end result have generated positive comments from our people right from the start,” says Jan Walldén. Kuusisto and Walldén are also seemingly happy about how tightly integrated the cross-company group has become.

Plugit had some Flutter experience in-house before starting the project. Combining Plugit’s resources with Digia’s experts has enabled a steep learning curve and smooth application development. “Of course, projects like these always have ups and downs,” Kuusisto admits. “Had we had more resources, the work would have been even faster. In hindsight, our schedule was also too optimistic.”

Kuusisto believes that building the planned new functionalities will be possible and straightforward with Digia’s support and Flutter’s toolkit. “Changes and additions will be easy to implement when we have only one codebase to work on. Also, Flutter has offered direct application interfaces to some of the other technologies we use, making integrations straightforward.”

“Our big vision is that Plugit’s mobile app will be your app for our EV driver customers. It looks exactly like you want it to look and is built precisely for your EV charging needs,” Mika Kuusisto concludes.