Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Social Net for Plug-in Electric Vehicles

    A Social Net for Plug-in Electric Vehicles
  • Early electric vehicle adopters might get help finding charging locations from altruistic friends.
  • Early electric vehicle adopters might get help finding charging locations from altruistic friends.When WiFi hotspots first appeared on the scene, some groups actively sought out open access sites and compiled lists documenting their locations. Those lists served as a great resource to a traveler in search of connectivity. 
    A similar process seems to be occurring with charging locations for plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs). One difference between the efforts of the groups sharing information about WiFi and today's undertaking is that there is a social networking aspect to the documentation of charging spots. And, of course, there's an app for those people who want to share the information.
    That app is PlugShare, a community-driven EV charging network. The app lists public charging locations. And it also lets EV enthusiasts (including people and companies) offer up their plugs for drivers on the road to use. With regard to sharing an outlet, the thought is that some early EV adopters and those interested in promoting the adoption of electric vehicles would gladly offer assistance to a motorist in need of a charge.
    PlugShare displays public charging stations and outlets made available by individuals and companies. (Source: PlugShare)

    With PlugShare, a user can download the free app, sign up and then see all available plugs in a given region. The displayed plugs would include those offered up by other users and public charging stations. Users can make their home outlets available and provide contact information including a phone number or email address. A PHEV driver in need of a charge can contact a user to access the plug.
    The people behind the app are Armen Petrosian and Forrest North. They were on the Stanford Solar Car team and together they founded Xatori, a startup whose mission is "to create innovative software for electric vehicles and the enlightened electricity grid."
    The two believe the network could help overcome what is called range anxiety, which is the fear of being stranded after draining an EV's batteries. Petrosian is quoted in the New York Times as saying: "There's an artificial barrier to electric vehicle charging. There are outlets everywhere."
    What do you think of this idea? Would you share an outlet with a fellow EV enthusiast? 

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