By Rachel Dovey.
Electric vehicle infrastructure is famously difficult to access and navigate, so naturally, there’s now a peer-to-peer app for that.
Meshcrafts is a Norwegian startup attempting to “Airbnbify” city charging systems. As a WiredUK article recently outlined, its technology allows drivers and charge-point owners to swap services. And while you can go ahead and roll your eyes (and grit your teeth) at any new company that wants to be the Airbnb of XYZ, Meshcrafts is on to something. As a blogger covering the company elaboratedlast month, charging stations are too often “points of failure.”
“If you only have one electric charging station in your vicinity, that central point of failure suddenly becomes a huge risk,” the post reads.
According to the New York Times, that risk is a leading reason electric car sales remain low. Nationwide, only 9,000 publicly available EV chargers compete with about 114,000 gas stations. Some cities offer more than others. San Francisco consistently tops ChargePoint’s annual list of chargers-per-electric vehicles on the road. But range anxiety can still be a problem, even in the Musk-worshiping Bay Area. As a Wired writer detailed last year, even when chargers are common, they can still be difficult to find, hard to use, broken or unavailable. And that’s a problem when your options are A. charge, or B. stop moving.
But timely as a company like Meshcrafts may be, we shouldn’t need private startups to improve our citywide systems. From Los Angeles to Seattle, West Coast cities are writing ambitious EV goals into their long-range climate action plans — and in the West, with its particular power mix, that tends to make good environmental sense. As more cities add chief data officer positions to their employee rosters and engineer innovative answers to the deregulated peer-to-peer systems pushing in on their turf (here’s one great example), the public sector ought to be able to come up with its own strategies for better charging.