Video screen capture eMotorWerks
I’ve written before about paid peer-to-peer charging sites like Chargie in the UK, and also about the less formal practice of simply offering your charging station up for free public use.
But eMotorWerks—makers of the wifi enabled "smart" charging station known as JuiceBox—have just announced a new initiative that may make peer-to-peer charging a whole lot more convenient. Launched in partnership with Share&Charge, a peer-to-peer charging site already up and running in Germany, eMotorWerks is offering California residential and commercial owners of their charging stations the opportunity to rent out charging time when their station is not in use.
Val Miftakhov, CEO of eMotorWerks, explained the rationale in their press release:
“One common issue we see in the growth of EV adoption is ‘range anxiety,’ which stems from an overall lack of charging stations for some shorter-range EVs currently on the market. To accelerate the EV revolution, we must increase the number of charging options available. By allowing individuals and companies both small and large to make their stations accessible to the public, and to be be paid for their use, station owners gain the opportunity to have their station pay for itself over time, while drivers can feel confident in knowing they’ll always have enough charge to get where they are going.”
California owners of any JuiceNet enabled devices who would like to share their charging stations are eligible to participate in the new P2P network, but initial participation will be limited. In addition to their own JuiceNet enabled charging stations, JuiceNet has also partnered with other manufacturers to add their smart grid capabilities to what would otherwise be a glorified extension cord—and these devices, too, will be eligible to participate.
From my perspective, as someone who drives two plug-in cars, I was skeptical about the point in smart grid capabilities and wifi control when we installed our charging station. After all, even our old Nissan Leaf comes with a charge timer—and many new vehicles also include apps to see rate of charge, battery status and all that techy stuff. So why would I need it in my charging station?
This new initiative from eMotorWerks and Share&Charge makes the idea of a connected device a lot more logical. If I didn’t have a shared driveway, in a town with plenty of free charging stations in easy driving distance, I might be tempted to install one myself. Certainly, business owners may consider this as a different form of revenue—and if you live with a driveway somewhere where parking is at a premium, you too may want to consider this an option.
That said, between longer range electric vehicles and a growing number of free charging stations, I’ll be curious to see how often these get used—what type of owners find it’s worth their time. I suspect that solutions like this may make sense for small hotels, commercial parking lots, restaurants, vacation rentals or other situations where the business owner won’t mind the extra revenue, where the driver will be sticking around for a while, but where car charging is a nice "add on", not a core of their business. It may also help manage access to charging stations—by applying a charge, it discourages people from using them unless they really need to.
Mark this one under "wait and see". It’s certainly an interesting addition to the options that are out there.