This is Tom from ampUp (https://ampup.io/). We're building a reservable electric car charging network out of shared private and home chargers.
As a Nissan Leaf driver without a home charger, charging has been almost a daily headache for me. For many commutes and trips I have to ask myself, should I drive my Leaf, use Uber, take public transit, walk really far, or just not go? This is due to the walk-in-only model of the public charger, which results in unpredictable availability. Worse, public charging is growing at a slower rate than EV adoption, and the range estimators on EVs are no better than a 10-day weather forecast.
I used the Plugshare app and it helped some, particularly the couch surfing style of charging where I arrange a 2 hour slot with some home charger hosts. When it worked well, it took out the unpredictability and therefore anxiety. However, it doesn’t always work well. Many times hosts won’t respond to text/calls to make the booking, and a couple times I forgot to bring cash/check to pay for the electricity as the host indicated.
My first attempt at this problem was building a webapp that worked as an addon to Plugshare where hosts can create a calendar for their charger, and set an hourly price where drivers can pay via credit card. Once that’s set up, the host would paste the unique url to their charger’s calendar in the description section of their Plugshare listing. Long story short, this added as much inconvenience as benefit, and drivers still ended up calling the host.
Given enough interests from hosts and based on experiences of a few drivers including myself, I decided to make a second attempt and just build a better app that focuses on the hosting and reservation flows.
After about 2 months of hustling and grinding, we released ampUp (https://ampup.io/), where users can host multiple chargers at flexible schedules and adjustable prices. Since the hosts set up sharing calendar for their chargers, the other users can make reservations with instantaneous confirmation. We use Stripe to enable peer to peer payment with credit card rather than cash/check. We know EV owners are willing to pay for charging and it’s important for hosts to be able to make a meaningful amount if we want to scale this to match our vision where one day there will always be a reservable charger near where the user is or will be. From our analysis, with a competitive (to public charger) pricing of $3/hr, hosts can expect to make $190-$270/month in profit with just 3 rented hours per day.
For ampUp, our business model is to charge a flat 1 dollar to the driver per reservation. If we use the $3/hr example from earlier, a 3 hour session will cost a total of $10 to add about 60 miles from a residential level 2 charger. This "fuel" cost is on par with the most fuel-efficient gas car which is the Mitsubishi Mirage. These numbers are based on Bay Area electricity and gas costs.
ampUp already has thousands of hosts, but many of them are listings we collected from all over the internet. The difference in the user experience with those hosts is that we have to confirm the reservation with them, as opposed to our own. This is a temporary limitation in the "do things that don't scale" spirit. Our goal is to instantly confirm reservations like Airbnb.
We sincerely invite the HN community’s feedback on our idea and on the app and everything else in this space. You can reach me directly at email@example.com or for firstname.lastname@example.org. You can download the app at the top of https://ampup.io/. We hope ampUp will help more people to drive their electric vehicles as effortlessly as driving a gas car!