EV Charging Solutions

Electric vehicle sales are climbing. But  some consumers are hesitant to make the switch because of concerns that EVs can’t carry them long distances. And as long as charging infrastructure remains sparse, this is a valid concern. But the problem of too few charging stations may have found a (temporary) solution in the sharing economy.

Scientific American profiled the “Airbnbs of charging”, networks that allow users to offer use of their private EV outlets. These listings supplement public outlets provided by cities, local entrepreneurs and corporate investments. Right now, there are 13,925 public charging stations in America. But taking private listings into account increase that number increases. This is true outside of the US, too. In Sweden, Renault Group’s Elbnb app has increased the number of available stations by 40%.

But the network of charging stations is not without its faults. There is no standardized outlet, so any given EV may not be able to plug into the station that’s available. There’s also the issue of time— it can take several hours to charge your vehicle. This presents an issue on an individual level (getting behind schedule on a business or road trip), and a shared one (potential wait times to use a private station). Before setting out on a trip, sometimes one isn’t sure of where charging stations will be along the route. The private model is an improvement but is a potential disaster for scheduling and trip planning.

Plugshare is a company that is trying to fix that. While they allow users to list their private stations, they also want to install charging stations alongside highways. This way, drivers can have a better idea of when and where they can charge.

Plugging in isn’t the only “charging” concern. What about money? As the article points out, using solar panels makes sharing your charger virtually free. But only a handful of states has legislation that clarifies the resale of electric energy. Some EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan are offering free use of their charging networks for a limited time. Others are charging fees based on time spent at the station or by the kWH.

This hasn’t solved all the problems, but there are plenty of solutions being explored.