An electric car app to quell range anxiety
Cities and businesses may be hustling to roll out electric vehicle charging networks, but in the meantime, an iPhone app released Monday aims to create a network of people willing to share a little juice with drivers in need of a charge.
Called PlugShare, the free app is the flagship product of Palo Alto-based EV software startup Xatori. It allows drivers to find places to charge their electric vehicles, both through listings of public charging stations and PlugShare’s network of people who are willing to share their electrical outlets.
Through their iPhones, PlugShare users can fire up a map of nearby charging spots (either 240-volt or 120-volt outlets), contact the outlet’s owner and get directions to the charging spot.
For the members who are offering up their outlets – who may or may not own EVs themselves – it’s up to them whether to work out a financial arrangement with the EV owner, but the idea is that the PlugShare network will be made of people eager to support the growth of electric vehicles, and therefore will likely be willing to give away a little electricity.
“Many people won’t have EV’s right away, but everyone has an electrical outlet,” said Forrest North, Xatori’s chief executive and one of the founders of electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors, in a statement. “Sharing electricity from a standard outlet only costs about $0.15 an hour, a small price to lessen our dependence on oil.”
Consumer resources like PlugShare represent just a tiny piece of the challenge of how to manage electric vehicle charging. A 2010 report from clean tech research firm Pike Research estimated that EV IT – including data analytics, smart charging management and customer information management – will spawn more than $5 billion in investments by 2015.