‘AirBnB for electric cars’ aims to end worries over access to chargers

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 2:01 pm

A new AirBnb-sytle app that connects EVs owners with each other could help end problems with access to chargers, according to its creators.

Electric cars enjoyed a record year in 2020, with sales up 185 per cent, despite an overall 30 per cent decline in the UK new car market. More than 108,000 EVs were registered last year, accounting for one in 10 new vehicles sold, up from one in 30 in 2019.

However, they remain a relatively small part of the UK motoring landscape and some drivers remain unconvinced about their suitability, especially those who face problems accessing chargers.

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According to the Energy Saving Trust, 80 per cent of electric car charging is done at home but figures from the English Housing Survey suggest that at least 40 per cent of people live in terraced houses or flats where installing a private charger is difficult or impossible.

This makes owning an EV a more difficult prospect for a lot of people but the creators of Co Charger believe that they can address this by matching private charging point owners with drivers in need of a charger.

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The “community charging” service aims to allow householders, businesses and community facilities to make money by sharing access to their charging systems with strangers who don’t have at-home access of their own.

Like AirBnB, the app lets charger owners (hosts) list their unit and set their own prices. EV owners in need of a charger can then use it to locate nearby chargers and compare costs. Co Charger then handles the payment, taking a share of the agreed cost. Co Charger’s creators say hosts will be able to set a price to cover the cost of charging as well as helping them recoup the initial cost of the unit and potentially make a profit.

People living in flats face problems accessing EV charging at home (Photo: Shutterstock)

Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger said he was prompted to develop it after finding himself temporarily without a charger.

“Five years ago a neighbour convinced me, a card-carrying petrol-head to get an electric car. The car arrived but my charger was delayed and I found myself giving that same neighbour a few quid to use their charger once a week until mine arrived,” he explained. “It led to a lightbulb moment where I thought of all the people blocked from getting an electric vehicle because they live in a flat or terraced house and don't have anywhere to charge."

According to research by EV infrastructure company Connected Kerb, two thirds of existing electric vehicle owners would not have made the switch if they had to rely on public chargers.