Prior to founding EVmatch, Heather spent five years in senior leadership roles at Rising Sun Energy Center, a leading green training, employment, and residential energy efficiency nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, California. She is well versed in climate policy and brings extensive utility and energy management experience from her time working with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. In her free time she loves skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.
Heather Hochrein, founder and CEO of EVmatch, is deeply committed to creating an inclusive clean energy economy. Heather’s care for the environment stems from an early connection to the land, fostered while growing up in a rural mountain town in Northern California. As a young adult, she fully realized the imminent threat of global climate change and committed her professional career to creating meaningful and scalable climate solutions. Follow Heather on Twitter @hkhochrein
What motivated you to launch an EV charging network?
EVmatch grew out of a deep passion for environmental protection and the desire to drive widespread adoption of cleaner electric vehicles. The concept for EVmatch started as a group Master’s thesis project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My team and I identified electric vehicles as an important solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollutants, but also EV charging as a major barrier to adoption. After extensive customer discovery and market research, the idea for EVmatch was born! Through an app-based sharing application, we found we could leverage the rapidly growing private charging resources to support those without home charging access. We launched the EVmatch service in the spring of 2017 and have been steadily growing the network ever since.
What is your favorite part of working in the sustainability field?
My favorite part of working in the sustainability field, and specifically clean energy, is knowing that I am contributing to urgently-needed solutions. I enjoy the creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning that’s required for success in the growing and rapidly changing clean energy economy.
What problems are there with our current EV charging infrastructure? How is EVmatch providing solutions to these issues?
Most people currently charge their EVs at home because that’s where it’s most convenient and affordable. Many EV drivers install a Level 2 (240V) charger at home to ensure their EV can be fully charged overnight. However, this is not an option for many people who live in apartments or don’t have off-street parking. These drivers must rely entirely on either workplace or public charging, which present several challenges. There are simply not enough charging stations, they’re not reservable, and they’re often too expensive for routine charging. EVmatch takes a fundamentally different approach by applying the sharing economy to EV charging. EVmatch dramatically increases the number of charging options by bringing private charging options into the public sphere. Additionally, all EVmatch stations are reservable in advance so drivers can rest assured that they’ll never be left without a charge.
What are the biggest myths out there about EV charging? Do you think consumers have a proper understanding of what it’s like to own an EV?
There are many misconceptions about EVs and EV charging. As with any new technology, there is a lot of education required to ensure that customers can make informed purchasing decisions.
One big myth is that all EVs can use fast charging networks, such as Tesla’s Supercharger network or EVgo’s DC fast charger network. This is simply not true. No plug-in hybrids (e.g. Chevy Volt or Prius Prime) can use these high powered stations and some pure battery electric vehicles require an add-on at the time of purchase to access fast chargers. And of course only Tesla vehicles can access their exclusive Supercharger network.
Another myth is that we can simply replicate the gas station model in order to meet EV charging needs. What many people don’t consider is that charging a battery takes much longer than filling a tank with gas – typically hours versus minutes. Therefore, EVs should really be charging any time they’re not in use, much like the way we charge other electronics. Fast charging is fantastic for enabling long-distance travel in EVs, but is not optimal for everyday charging due to high costs and negative impacts on both the electrical grid and EV battery life. This is why EV charging near “long-dwell” locations, such as home or work, is so important.
What are the best ways in which EVmatch can contribute to a long-term positive transformation in the transportation sector?
By increasing EV charging availability through a peer-to-peer network, EVmatch supports the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. EVs serve as a critical clean energy solution with zero tailpipe emissions, lower life-cycle emissions compared to gasoline vehicles, and the potential to serve as distributed energy resources. Yet, there are not currently enough public charging stations to support today’s EVs and expected future growth. EVmatch is rapidly expanding public charging options by bringing private charging resources into the public sphere, which will expedite the mass adoption of these cleaner vehicles.
What are the clear signals of industry change at the moment?
A major signal of change is the recent increase in electric vehicle sales in the United States and around the world. This has largely been driven by the decreasing costs and increasing availability of EVs. Furthermore, a number of automakers recently committed to dramatically increasing the number and type of electric models they produce. For example, General Motors has committed to producing at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023. With a wider range of prices, styles, and classes, there will be an EV to suit everyone’s needs.
Another clear signal of an electrified transportation future are the recent announcements that many countries are planning to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars. These countries include China, India, France, Great Britain, and Norway, with the bans beginning as early as 2025.
When the world gets crazy, what keeps you motivated and your vision and passion alive?
Getting outside and enjoying nature keeps me motivated and helps me stay grounded. A quiet hike in the mountains or by the ocean always helps to remind me what I’m fighting so hard to protect. My inspiring friends and colleagues also keep me going when the world seems bleak.