July 8th, 2016 by Steve Hanley 

Originally published on Gas2.

If you have an extra room in your house or apartment, you can rent it out by the night, the week, or longer using the Airbnb app. If it works for unused rooms in a home, why wouldn’t it work for unused EV chargers? That’s the idea behind Sweden’s Elbnb. “Electric cars are a reality, but even though it’s 2016, a year when environmental issues are a big topic, the infrastructure is lacking,” Renault spokesperson Lars Höglin said during the launch of Elbnb, a website that allows Swedish drivers help each other charge their cars.

Elbnb for EV Chargers

Sweden has a long tradition of being environmentally conscious, but electric car sales have been slow to take off. The Swedish government does not offer the same kind of aggressive incentive programs available in other Scandinavian countries, especially Norway. Renault in Sweden says it hopes the new sharing economy scheme will boost sales of its plug-in and electric cars in the Swedish market.

“The primary goal of Elbnb is to raise awareness of the lack of charging infrastructure,” Höglin told Swedish newspaper The Local on July 6. He cited a survey by his company in which 51% of respondents said that they found the lack of EV chargers one of the biggest obstacles to driving an electric car. The program lets homeowners add EV chargers located at their residence to a map. Other drivers then contact them to get help charging their cars. Together they then agree on a time and cost for using the charger.

If the concept sounds familiar, it is because it is. The name, in which ‘el’ is short for electricity, is inspired by Airbnb, a website that allows individuals to rent their home to other users. “The name immediately tells people what it’s all about. People are aware about bed and breakfasts and about Airbnb. We think that Airbnb has created something amazing, so it’s also kind of a little tribute to them,” says Höglin.

Since the program was started 3 weeks ago, 50 people have added their EV chargers to the map. “We have increased the amount of charging points in Sweden by four percent in only this three-week period,” says Höglin.

He hopes the project can next branch out to other countries, with Norway potentially being top of the list since it is “one of the biggest countries concerning electrical vehicles.” He adds, “Environmental questions are a big topic in Sweden, so that’s also the reason why we did it in Sweden.”

Höglin reveals that the scheme seems to be fueling Sweden’s ‘fika’ [coffee and cake] trend as well. “I saw a user the other day saying that if you stop by, you can come for a coffee as well. So it’s turning into a social network.” Maybe sharing coffee and cake is the key to the green car revolution?

Source and photo credit: The Local

Reprinted with permission.