Marketing idea: Better Place Software to estimate/simulate driver experience

This just sent via email to Better Place:

Dear Sir/Madam

I would venture a guess that many of your early adopters (or switch-registrants for now) are also gadget lovers or at least tech savvy. Most of them walk around with a smartphone with a GPS or at least have a GPS in their cars. The idea is that by submitting you their GPS data from driving their gas cars they could get your estimates on car usage and maintenance patterns, and have a better idea on the EV experience ahead. Better Place can use this as a market research as well as active marketing tool, of course.

The problem: many would-be early adopters wonder what is the real range of your EV. With rush hours being as bad as they are in Israel, and the heat rising every summer, some people fear that changing battery packs every 80 KM is inevitable. This software tool will allow them to have a better idea about the severity of the problem, and help them decide before making the switch.

As for Better Place – I have no doubt that you are already equipping people with recording equipment to learn their driving habits, but you can always use more data.

The basic idea: owners of popular platforms like Android and iPhone already like to run apps like Waze, that record and report their speed and location. Better Place can be using that software (it's Open source) or offering the service via the existing Waze platform:

If a user chooses to participate, Better place would get details of time on the road, parking locations, speed and location, which can then be crossed with GIS data (or free via Google Earth) to get elevation data, producing very good estimates of energy use, battery drain and recharge based on speed and road inclines.

Better place benefits by getting the usage pattern data of drivers who are eager to try the new system, and the users will receive signals emulating their experiance, such as SMS reports with "if you had an EV, your battery would have finished recharging about now", or more importantly "If you had an EV, you would have had to make a battery change stop about now". Naturally, a cost calculator comparing the gas-vs-EV costs along the way will be an excellent feedback.

Variations: Waze is an Israeli company and I have no idea if it's popular enough abroad, also for people like me who own an unsupported smartphone (Linux-based Nokia N900) Waze is not an option. Still I can record my travels and produce a GPX file and submit it. Ideally you could spare some change on porting the application to Maemo and Meego and make a few more people happy 🙂

Ideally: I am also a privacy minded guy, I would prefer if there was an option of getting estimates on usage and costs by calculating them locally on my smartphone or PC, without submitting the data to your servers. And yes, I AM aware that by driving your cars this privacy would probably not be an option (though I'd be very happy to know if it were!).


Copies: My Blog

The idea, as you see, is a boon for both Better Place and the would-be switchers. I have no idea what's going on on Facebook, but I have a feeling Better Place could start some more "social media" buzz to help their goals. I guess if people are buying into foursquare silliness, they must buy into an application that will actually give them useful information.