Ryerson student’s new app wants to sell you an electric car

A Ryerson student is hoping to convince people to drive electric cars by aiming for the place they care about most: their wallets.

Fifth-year marketing and entrepreneurship major Ilya Zatolokin has created a web application that shows users how much money drivers can save with an electric car.

The app, Drive EV, allows users to compare the costs of their current vehicle to an electric one by plotting their daily commute on a map. It was made in collaboration with Plug n’ Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the adoption of electric vehicles.

According to Ron Groves, manager of outreach and education at Plug n’ Drive, the app itself points to a much more cost-efficient future in electric cars, in part because charging stations are cheaper than gas.

According to Canadian Automobile Association, Canada has over 2,000 charging stations across the country. According to Plug in America, an association of advocates for electric cars, charging a car for a 161-km drive would cost around $2-4 USD.

“It’s one thing for me to have a conversation with a person and tell them about an electric car and why it’s awesome for them,” Groves says. “If I was able to show them hard data, which would actually apply to their life, then maybe they would see why an electric car might be good for them. And that’s what the app does.”

The project started about a year ago when Zatolokin approached Plug’n Drive. Zatolokin was working on a final-year course when a friend told him about a grant.

“I applied on a whim and saw that I needed an industry partner,” Zatolokin said. “(Plug’n Drive) needed a student and I needed someone in the industry,” he said. “So really, it was a match made in heaven.”

Zatolokin and Plug’n Drive received a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for $50,000 to fund the creation of Drive EV. Zatolokin then hired a team, including the Russian-based developers, to work with him.

Natalie Czobit, a former Ryerson student who is Zatolokin’s assistant on the project, says working with people overseas was one of the project’s biggest challenges.

“One of the things was the language barrier. I’d send an e-mail to the Russian developers and they would send one back and you could tell at times that they didn’t fully understand everything we were writing at times,” Czobit said.

While the app is now available to the public, Zatolokin plans to keep expanding its functions.

He says the next step for the app is to help bring users to the dealerships and test out the vehicles. He also hopes to monetize it to ensure it can run for free in the future.

Drive EV is available for free here.

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