The internet has transformed how many perceive property, allowing the rental of other peoples' personal vehicles, apartments, and other spaces when owners are not using them.
Now, the idea is being applied to charging stations across the United Kingdom with the introduction of the Chargie smartphone app.
Chargie aims to redefine how electric-car owners plan their travels by allowing access to individual's own charging stations (which the British call "chargepoints").
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In the spirit of AirBnB, which rents out apartments and other spaces as a hotel alternative, users designate their own chargepoints as available to other electric-car drivers.
Those in need of a charge can then search through nearby locations and send a reservation (or "booking") request to the station's owner.
The owner, in turn, can look at the Chargie user's profile before accepting or declining a reservation; users can also specify when their chargepoints are available.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: In September 2017, Chargie renamed itself BookMyCharge. As it explained, it became aware of "a similarly named company called Chargy which supplies [local] councils with [electric-car] chargepoints for installation onto lamp posts."]
Chargie chargepoint sharing service
Payment occurs through the application, and Chargie earns a small service fee for the use.
That fee is halved, however, if the driver reserving a chargepoint has already listed their own personal chargepoint.
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Not only does it make electric-car travels easier, but Chargie could help spur additional charging infrastructure.
Chargie says it has already heard from many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other points of interest interested in constructing their own charging stations that would be listed on the application.
Smart Electric Drive and GWiz electric cars charging, London [photo: International Man of Mystery]
Their goal is to provide electric-car drivers a place to recharge while offering services or amenities in the process—think a quick lunch while the car charges.
Registration for chargepoints opened on May 2, 2017; as of this writing, several dozen chargepoints have been listed across the U.K.
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The app provides a welcome alternative at a time when charging infrastructure remains in its infancy in parts of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Both private companies and a handful of automakers have taken the lead in providing charging sites, both in the U.K. and the United States as well.
Chevrolet Bolt EV being charged outside Go Forth electric-car showroom, Portland [photo: Forth]
Chargie says it's already receiving requests from around the globe to expand its services, something it has already begun looking into.
A broadly similar U.S. app, PlugShare, has been in operation for several years now and lists tens of thousands of charging sites across the nation.