I don’t know about you, but for perhaps the first time ever, I want to buy a Nissan. The Leaf, of course. But there’s a problem. Where can I charge it? Sure, I live in Portland, the ecotopia where there are likely oodles of places to do it. And outside that bubble? Not so clear.
And that’s a likely stumbling block that could keep all but the most ardent supporters of electric vehicles (or those of us feeling the impending pain of sky high gas costs) from making the leap to an electric car.
Fortunately, an intriguing solution just launched this week to address so called “range anxiety”: Plugshare is a new mobile app that starts with the most extensive listing of publicly available electric vehicle charging stations available. Then it gets interesting – It allows the public to connect with each other at charging points they post on the app. PlugShare has done something wise here: Rather then just cater to EV enthusiasts, its site makes a point to say that people don’t have to have/offer EV specific plugs, and they don’t even need to be an EV owner.
Why would they do this? Simple: Like AirBnB, where people don’t just offer their place to rent for the cash, it’s also about the experience of meeting new people. The same goes for PlugShare.
As PlugShare put it:
If you don’t own an EV, you should sign up to join an exciting community tasked with weaning our dependence off fossil fuels. Sooner or later an EV owner may ask to charge at your outlet, and you’ll be able to talk to a real person (not a dealer or a salesman) to find out if an EV is right for you!
How does it work? Dead simple, as any good app should be:
If you’re offering your place to charge, you write a brief description of yourself, the location (i.e. is it in your garage, outside?) and what type of outlets do you have (regular 120v or EV specific) If you’d prefer to have people contact you first and/or keep your location private, flip a switch and that’s set.
On the seeker side, you can search by proximity to your current location, or near a destination you’ll be wanting to charge at, say the other end of a day trip. A map with large, easily distinguishable icons pops up. Click one, get the specifics, and if you need or want to contact the location first to confirm availability and get the address, that can happen by phone or text.
It’s still early days for this app, but it’s perfect timing for the impending broader wave of electric cars coming this year and increasingly so as time goes by. I can see it being the go to app for people preparing to get an electric car and wanting to feel reassured that they’ll be taken care of. Car dealers, I’d encourage that you get PlugShare, get familiar with it, and show it to would be customers. It may just be what removes the speedbumps to purchase.
Watch PlugShare in action here:
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.