Bluedot’s debit card for electric vehicle owners offers cheaper charging and cash back • TechCrunch
Electric vehicles accounted for nearly 6% of all new cars sold in the United States in 2022, an increase from 3.1% the year before, and this number will continue to increase in the coming years. Although still a young industry, the ecosystem surrounding electric vehicles – from charging and installation of electric vehicles to insurance products and parking – promises to be disconnected and somewhat complicated. .
So say the founders of Bluedot, a banking and rewards platform for electric vehicle 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 automotive-related purchases, but primarily for electric vehicle charging. Bluedot currently offers customers a flat rate of $0.30 per kilowatt-hour of charging with participating EV charging stations, and 20% cash back on charges with non-participating charging networks. Customers find stations and pay charges directly to partner charging companies on the Bluedot app, saving them the hassle of downloading multiple apps.
Bluedot users also get 5% cash back on all automotive expenses, plus an additional 2% cash back on all other expenses. Additionally, the company offers users rewards at nearby shops and restaurants. So, while waiting for their car to be charged, a customer can go to the local Starbucks for a coffee and get 10% cash back on that purchase, or shop at Whole Foods and get another 15% back, for example.
The startup, which will join Y Combinator’s winter 2023 cohort and recently closed a $2 million pre-seed, is initially focused on charging stations, in part because it’s an industry that’s on the brink of growth. explode with federal and state funding. The Cut Inflation Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022, gives all states access to more than $1.5 billion in funding to facilitate electric vehicle charging projects. It could end up looking like a big push to install infrastructure without much cohesion.
Bluedot wouldn’t say which charging companies it works with to offer its flat rate, but the startup said customers could initiate charging through the Bluedot app at about 60% of all charging stations in the United States. To grow its network of partners, Bluedot targets smaller and new top-up companies that may not have the resources to build their own app and payment platform.
“New EV charging companies are looking for solutions like ours to increase driver visibility and accessibility, optimize payment processes and improve charging station utilization,” said Selinay Filiz Parlak, co-founder and COO of Bluedot, at TechCrunch. “Bluedot is working on integrating financial technology to help these companies make their charging stations more viable and accessible to drivers.”
“Currently, usage in most charging station networks ranges from 5% to 8%. Bluedot aims to bring this rate above 15%. We started with small charging station companies, but our goal is to bring all brands together with fintech for users,” Parlak continued.
Today, Bluedot’s primary customers are individual drivers who found the startup through partnerships with car dealerships and ride-sharing companies. Parlak says Bluedot’s next target is fleets to help them manage expenses and billing processes and get better deals.
“For example, one of our partners is a leasing company that rents cars to a group of delivery drivers managed by a fleet manager,” Parlak said. “They want to offer a broader ecosystem of charging stations that is easier to bill and then to reimburse, which is what we are offering. And they also want to get better deals around electrification.
Bluedot also manually extracts data for customers on their charging habits, how much they spend, how much energy they use, their main charging locations, how much carbon dioxide emissions they have avoided by using an EV , etc. In the future, the company wants to automate this 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 before demo day,” Ferhat Babacan, CEO and co-founder of Bluedot, told TechCrunch. “Specifically, we aim to secure partnerships in the areas of car dealership, charging networks and car-related expenses. Additionally, we plan to launch pilot tests for the Bluedot Fleet Card.