The promise of electric vehicles has long occupied the focus of the tech community. For years there have been claims that the adoption of EVs by the general public is right around the corner. Yet, in 2018, sales of EVs represented only 2.1% of total automotive sales for the year. Renowned EV manufacturer Tesla has been struggling from a low demand for its Model 3 vehicle—as the car remains a luxury and unaffordable for most Americans.
One cardinal issue with EVs is the lack of infrastructure required for drivers to be able to commute anywhere without becoming stranded with an empty battery. Thus far, few people have taken on the venture of building electric charging stations. In fact, so few people are doing it that automakers are partnering together with the plan of spending $255 billion over the next five years on building EV charging stations in Europe.
Although it is likely that electric charging stations will eventually become ubiquitous, one thing is certain: for now, the rate of EV adoption greatly outpaces the rate of charging station construction.
Furthermore, most charging stations are available on a walk-in basis. If you are taking a road-trip and need to charge your car but all the stations are occupied, you should probably add a few hours to your estimated arrival time. This issue, coupled with inaccurate battery range approximation (which Tesla is working hard to improve), will make you think twice before you use an EV for your next road trip.
Luckily, a San Francisco-based startup that is part of Y Combinator’s 2019 winter class, has a solution. AmpUp is launching a service that allows drivers of EVs to rent out and to reserve compatible charging stations ahead of time. The founder of ampUp, Tom Sun, has developed a mobile app that connects EV drivers and charging station owners, enabling the owners to make money for sharing their charger according to their specified schedule.
Currently, public chargers cost about $3/hr for drivers to utilize. With similar pricing, and costs based on Bay Area gas and electricity prices, Sun estimates that a person can earn $190 to $270 each month just by sharing their charger for three hours per day.
Most commonly, the chargers being rented out are private chargers at an owner’s home, which are not being used when the owner is there. In the past, people have rented out their personal chargers by listing them on the internet. However, renting chargers via internet can fall short when an owner does not respond when needed or fails to show. Similarly, drivers are prone to forgetting the cash or the check needed to pay for the service.
AmpUp’s app makes the entire rental process seamless and pain-free. Using peer-to-peer payments, drivers can pay using their credit cards and owners do not have to worry about losing a payment.
Being the Airbnb of anything is not an easy feat, especially when the service is centered around a technology in its formative stage. Currently, the charging station owners are individually selected at the discretion of AmpUp. At private homes, chargers are usually located on the property or even inside of a garage. This makes insuring liabilities a serious concern for AmpUp.
However, if you feel entrepreneurial, according to Fixr, the average cost for installing a standard 240V charging station is between $1100 and $1200. Build your charging station, join AmpUp, and generate income—while helping facilitate EV adoption and bringing us closer to our electric future.
In the cover photo: An EV charging point. Photo Credit: Unsplash.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.