PlugShare boosts social, mobile for electric car charging

Startup Xatori has quietly been growing both its social and mobile features for its electric car charging network PlugShare. The app, which launched in March, enables users to find the closest electric car charger, and also participate in a network of “Angel chargers,” which donate their plug space to the early adopter EV charging community.

PlugShare creators Armen Petrosian and Forrest North tell me that they have launched a wiki-style feature that enables the community to add the location of any public charging stations, which the founders say has morphed into a very popular feature. In addition PlugShare just came out with its Android app (download it here now), and the team is planning a Yelp-style section for the community to rate and comment on charging stations in the network.

So far, after about five months post-launch, PlugShare has had 20,000 downloads and about 2,000 users turn to the app on a daily basis to find chargers, says the founders. Given the electric car market is still tiny — there’s only several thousand new plug-in cars out there in the U.S. plus hundreds of DIYers — 2,000 daily active users isn’t as small as it sounds.

Petrosian formerly worked at battery startup Amprius, and North worked first at Tesla (s TSLA), and then founded electric motorcycle company Mission Motors. The founders both led the Stanford Solar Car team and managed to round up an all-star advisory board for Xatori including PayPal and Slide co-founder Max Levchin, and Tesla co-founder Marc Tarpenning.

North says that the goal of the growing mobile and social service is to “do whatever we can to enable electric vehicles to take off faster than they have been taking off.” That includes both enabling a network of people to share the plugs at their homes — and donate the electricity — and thus acting as a peer-to-peer EV charging network, or just reducing EV drivers range anxiety by showing drivers the closest plug.

That latter function might prove to be the service that generates PlugShare revenues. While the electric car charging infrastructure companies all have mobile apps, too, PlugShare can act as “Switzerland,” says Petrosian, and offer a place to organize all of them. Electric car makers also might be interested in partnering with a neutral startup, for their in-vehicle EV charging locator services, similar to the ones Nissan and GM are offering.