EV charging startup EVmatch aims to connect private charging station owners with EV drivers looking for a charge. The Los Angeles pilot launches this week, with free charging in the EVmatch system for the pilot users until 4/11/17.
What is EVmatch?
The EVmatch solution fills a gap in electric vehicle charging infrastructure by providing a platform and a compensation model that connects privately owned EV charging station owners with EV drivers. With home charging station installations generally tracking with EV adoption rates, EVmatch seeks to tap into privately owned charging infrastructure to expand charging options for EV drivers, eliminating range anxiety along the way.
Beyond just charging, EVmatch includes a reservation system which gives drivers assurance that the charger will be held for them during a fixed window. This is something no other public charging system does well and is a key differentiator, as it is very common to arrive at a charger only to find that someone else is there charging.
Finally, EVmatch facilitates connections between real people that are interested in and likely advocates of EVs. It’s difficult to put a price on community, but as someone who has been driving EVs, charging EVs at public infrastructure, and advocating for EVs for years, this is exciting for me.
EVmatch is the brainchild of co-founders Heather Hochrein and Shannon Walker, who developed the solution together as part of the eco-entrepreneurship tract of the graduate program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since graduating in June of 2016, the duo has kicked the startup into high gear with a proof-of-concept launch in Santa Barbara, California, supported by the development of the software solution.
The solution initially made use of Google Docs and Google Calendar and quickly evolved into the development of a web app–based solution that brings all the learnings from the proof of concept together into a single solution that delivers compatibility on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Linux platforms.
Payments from users to hosts are determined by an intelligent algorithm that takes into account electricity rates that are entered by the host to determine which tier or time of use mode they operate in. The Smart Pricing algorithm takes into account charging speed, the cost of electricity, and a “profit per hour” that is set by the host. These are multiplied by the total charging time, which uses an honor system–based reservation duration for the pilot. The team has plans to implement a hardware/software integration that will provide customer recognition and real-time electricity metering to track total kWh used instead of an estimation. Finally, a service fee is applied as the primary revenue stream for the folks at EVmatch. In over-simplified terms, it looks like this:
[(Price per kWh)*(Charging Speed) + Host Markup per hour] * Length of Reservation + EVmatch Service Fee = Charging Session Price
This model was well received by hosts and users in the proof of concept. These initial test users were generally more excited to support EV adoption than they were about making a profit. Whether this excitement scales or not is one of the big questions the team is looking to answer with the pilot. Payments to hosts are currently made through weekly payments to keep the money flowing to hosts, but the frequency and method of payments may change after the pilot.
The Big Launch
EVmatch built a proof of concept in the Santa Barbara area but then kicked things into high gear last week when it launched the pilot of the solution, which expands the footprint to the greater Los Angeles area. In the limited-release pilot, the team will scale the solution to a broader user base to validate the new end-to-end solution before developing platform-specific apps and expanding the network to the rest of California and beyond.
Customers who have already pre-registered for the pilot launch on the EVmatch site have now received a formal invites to the pilot, which officially kicked off on March 28. The pilot features free in-network charging through April 11, 2017, and will be celebrated by a launch party in Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks.
More information about the pilot, including instructions for signing up as a charging site host or charging system user can be found over on the EVmatch Pilot site or on the main site at www.evmatch.com. I know I’ll be watching over the next few weeks and months to see how the EVmatch solution performs with a larger set of users, and I hope that it will be able to deliver on its goal of giving people enough confidence in the public charging network to buy an EV.
Images courtesy of EVmatch