Japanese EV solutions innovator Plugo is now opening its online-based EV charging reservation service. Using a mobile app, EV drivers may simply book a date and location to gain scheduled access to the startup’s growing array of very discreet EV charging stations nationwide.
Introduction to Plugo and its Vision
Plugo, as a corporate entity, is largely unknown to the West. In fact, it is also still quite a new startup in Japan at the moment, having been founded only three years ago in 2018. The primary mission of the company, at least according to its design team, is to provide” green” energy-based innovations. More specifically, it aims to develop infrastructure-based improvements that can potentially make electric vehicles completely environment-friendly.
Esoteric explanations aside, much of the company’s accomplishments so far are built around its proprietary EV charging stands, which were the brainchild of designer Seitaro Yamazaki. First is the Plugo Bar. Introduced sometime during July 2020, it is a very thin-profile, low-cost charging unit that kind of resembles a Tesla Supercharger in terms of implementation. Next is the Plugo Block, which was deployed just last January 2021, and is essentially a parking stopper that can also function as an EV charger.
Both are meant to be very discreet objects, fulfilling their “green” role by almost resembling their old cemented counterparts. This is to encourage the expected normalcy of electric vehicles in Japan within the next few decades. In addition, this is yet again another showcase of the potential universality of EV chargers to be just about anywhere, devoid of any need for dedicated car stops or stations.
Exclusively Using What Can’t Even Be Noticed
The official press release that was published by Plugo this week did not provide complete details. However, according to what was generally explained, a mobile app would require registration to its network, plus the dates, time, and future frequency of availing the service. There seem to be no specific restrictions on the type of EV that can use the service, so long as it can properly fit the parking space, of course.
So in the future, when EVs become more and more mainstream, EV drivers in Japan no longer have to randomly search for a station to “fill up” as we used to at traditional gas stations. A regular customer may simply drop by at the date and time regularly indicated, leave the car, and then resume its use after your business is done. There is no need to think about charging speed. No need to think about having enough juice for the next destination. Heck, you don’t even need to think about the EV itself at all.
As very avid and dedicated followers of times and schedules (even to the very second), the Japanese would also have absolutely no problem with this type of implementation. To the average EV-owning sarariiman and OL’s (“salaryman”, “office lady”), this is yet another convenience that they can add to their continually growing list of livelihood automation options.
Scheduled Charging Benefits in Both Ways
Plugo has also advertised some of the inherent, or natural advantages that such a registration and reservation system would have on even a theoretical EV charging network. Basically, we are looking at:
- Determining with absolute accuracy, the users, their schedules, and how long a particular station was used. (for statistical and analytics purposes)
- (Better) Controlled local traffic
- Becomes a central hub for any early adopter of any new EV concept
- Allows regulated scheduling (and thus user prediction) in the future
- More efficient travel scheduling if on an EV (eliminates charging anxiety even on outdated models)
- Zero risk or worry that no chargers are available upon reaching your destination
- Allows regulated scheduling (and thus location prediction) in the future
Lastly, in the future, as more and more Plugo charging stations litter across all parking spaces in Japan, the incentive to use EVs becomes less and less attached to government subsidies. Just the sheer availability (convenience), and the option to reserve some of these for exclusive use might be enough to sway more and more people to ditch gas guzzlers and use EVs instead.
Wait, Doesn’t Tesla Already have Something Like This?
Ah, you might wonder if Tesla’s Supercharger network has already thought up of something similar since Tesla EVs also has its dedicated app. Unfortunately, while a few features might be comparable to the reservation options that a Plugo Stand or Block may provide, it is not entirely similar. In fact, the Tesla app mostly provides only charge status, or if a particular Supercharger is being used at that moment or not.
Perhaps, in the future, Papa Musk’s R&D team at Tesla would implement something similar. Though, making people perfectly adhere to reservation schedules is another problem completely outside the realm of any EV-related technological hurdle.
As for Plugo and its short-term projections, being that Japan is currently aiming for complete and 100% EV adoption sometime during 2050, we’d have to conclude that they are at least on the right track, pun intended.