When I wrote about Tesla's imminent massive expansion of superchargers and destination chargers, I noted that many of us electric vehicle (EV) owners are adding charging points at our own homes too—meaning our own social networks of friends and family could soon become a resource to prevent range anxiety:
• Visiting a friend in your Nissan Leaf? Just plug-in while you hang out and power your trip back home.
• Unexpectedly caught short on charge while out-and-about? Call up your nearest EV-owning friend and stop by for a chat.
In the UK, a new startup called Chargie is aiming to take this informal network of infrastructure and make it accessible to the public. The idea is simple: Much like AirBnB, charge point owners can list their unit and location, set a price, and then let EV owners book a scheduled time to top up their charge. If popular, it could help EV drivers switch from using their car for an occasional run-around to more long distance driving.
Of course, there are a few caveats. Typically, home chargers still take a significant amount of time to charge. So these arrangements may be better suited to folks who need a place to regularly charge while they are at work, or where they are stopping for a longer period of time.
Also, the fact that many of us EV owners rarely need to charge may mean that listing your charge point results in very few bookings. It will be interesting to see whether people really make any money from such arrangements. It will also be worth watching whether longer range EVs, combined with growing public infrastructure, mean the need for services like Chargie is temporary. Only time will tell.
Finally, it's also worth noting that a large number of private vehicle owners and businesses already make their charge points available at no cost to members of the public, and list them on existing apps for locating a charging spot. But what a model like Chargie does is it provides predictability in the form of bookings, it incentivizes those of us who might otherwise be cautious about letting strangers park in our drives, and it provides a structure for formalizing those arrangements—complete with licensing agreements and a pathway to recourse if the arrangement is abused.
Check out Chargie's FAQ if you'd like to learn more.