Responsible electric vehicles almost 6% of all new cars sold in the US in 2022, up from 3.1% the previous year, and that number will continue to grow in the years to come. While still a young industry, the ecosystem around electric cars – from EV charging and installation to insurance products and parking – is becoming one that is disconnected and somewhat complicated.
That’s what the founders say blue dot, a banking and rewards platform for EV owners that aims to improve the after-sales experience. Here’s how it works: Individual owners or fleet managers sign up for Bluedot’s debit card, which they’ll use for all car-related purchases, but primarily for EV charging. Bluedot currently offers customers a flat rate of $0.30 per kilowatt-hour of charging at participating EV charging stations and 20% cashback on charges at non-participating charging networks. Customers find stations and pay for charging stations with partner charging companies directly on the Bluedot app, eliminating the need to download multiple apps.
Bluedot users also get 5% cashback on all car expenses, plus an additional 2% cashback on all other expenses. In addition, the company offers users rewards in nearby shopping and dining options. So while they wait for their car to charge, a customer can walk to the local Starbucks for a coffee and get 10% cash back on that purchase, or shop at Whole Foods and get another 15% cash back, for example.
The startup, which will be part of Y Combinator’s winter 2023 cohort and recently closed a $2 million pre-seed, is initially focusing on charging stations, in part because it’s an industry on the verge of blow it up with federal and state funding. The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022, gives all states access to more than $1.5 billion in funding to enable electric vehicle charging projects. That could end up looking like a big step to install infrastructure without much cohesion.
Bluedot wouldn’t say which charging companies it’s working with to offer its flat fee, but the startup said customers can start charging through the Bluedot app at about 60% of all charging stations in the US. To grow its partner network, Bluedot is targeting smaller and newer charging companies that may not have the resources to create their own app and payment platform.
“New EV charging companies are looking for solutions like ours to increase visibility and accessibility for drivers, optimize payment processes and improve charging station occupancy,” Selinay Filiz Parlak, co-founder and chief operating officer of Bluedot told gotechbusiness.com. “Bluedot is working to integrate financial technology to help these companies make their charging stations more viable and accessible to drivers.”
“Currently, the occupancy rate in most charging station networks ranges from 5% to 8%. Bluedot aims to raise this rate above 15%. We started with small charging station companies, but our goal is to bring all brands together with financial technology for users,” continues Parlak.
Bluedot’s main customers today are individual drivers who found the start-up through partnerships with car dealerships and ride-share companies. Parlak says Bluedot fleets’ next goal is to help them manage spending and charging processes and get better deals.
“For example, one of our partners is a leasing company that rents out cars to a bunch of delivery drivers who are controlled by a fleet manager,” says Parlak. “They want to offer a larger charging station ecosystem, which is easier to bill and then reimburse, which is what we offer. And they also want to close better deals on electrification.”
Bluedot also manually collects data for customers about their charging habits, how much they spend, how much power they use, their best charging locations, the amount of carbon emissions they avoided by using an electric car, and so on. In the future, the company wants to automate that task to make it smarter and more scalable.
During YC, Bluedot wants to focus on growth and product development.
“Our goal is to build partnerships and close deals leading up to demo day,” Ferhat Babacan, CEO and co-founder of Bluedot told gotechbusiness.com. “We are particularly looking for partnerships in the areas of car dealerships, charging networks and car-related spending. In addition, we plan to start pilot testing for the Bluedot Fleet Card.”