Cover image by Fireart Studio

How to make an EV rental app

Anastasiia Fenyuk

Anastasiia Fenyuk

Rockstar Copywriter @ Stormotion

Cyril Troitsky

Cyril Troitsky

React Native Wizard @ Stormotion

Electric vehicle rental is becoming more and more popular. This is a convenient and fast way to travel around the city for short distances or get a car for that particular situation when you need it.

Despite the fact that this is now a popular innovation and in cities you can definitely find a couple of rental services, mobile app development is a challenging project. Why? Because there’ll be a lot of things that require your attention. To name a few, you’ll need to:

  • create a clear & catchy UI/UX design
  • implement all the necessary features
  • ensure a stable and quick data exchange between the mobile app and the EV fleet
  • set up an administrative panel so that you can track all vehicles and monitor their technical condition.

As complicated as it may sound, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll tell you in detail about the app development process for creating an electric vehicle rental application. We’ll also take a quick glance at possible challenges you can face and special features linked to different business models.

Let's start!

 
 

📱 Basic Features of Electric Vehicle Rental Applications

In this article, we’ll look at two main types of rental apps: electric car rental apps and electric scooter and bike rental apps. Even though they may seem similar, there are a bunch of differences in terms of features & technologies when it comes to software development.

Thus, in this section, we’ll talk about the basic features of both applications and then take a closer look at their distinctive features.

 
 

Sign Up

Creating an account is the best way to save personal data for both the user and the application. An account nowadays is like a barista in a coffee shop near your house that you go to every day: he knows your name, what to advise you, and that you love coffee and pistachio macaroons.

The registration process is the first thing a new user of the application faces. Make this screen user-friendly.

A good example of how to display the registration screen and the main screen of the application (image by Michał Michańczyk)

Simply put, Sign Up is a memory and relationship tool between the client and the application. It makes it easier to interact with customers by offering them personal promotions that match their profile and in-app behavior.

I​​t’s important that the user can quickly and comfortably go through the registration procedure. For this, add the Social Login feature to enable an easy sign up via social networks.

You can also add an extra feature to subsequent logins to the application, such as login via facial recognition or touch ID.

For an EV car rental app, you’ll also need to implement a driver’s license verification workflow — something we’ll cover a bit later in the article.

 
 

Map & Navigation

The map is one of the main features in the EV rental app. Therefore, you need to think in advance about how to make it as user-friendly as you can.

One of the main functions in the application for renting electric cars is to correctly issue a car with GPS. So the user can see all the nearest available cars.

An example of how to design a map so that the user can see all the nearest available cars (image by Daria Kravets)

A good solution would be to add the ability for the user to find the nearest EVs using geolocation, so the user doesn’t have to enter the address manually. You can also add icons to the map for nearby rental stations or points where you can leave or pick up a car (if your business model allows it).

Your development team can use the Google Maps API, Apple Maps API, MapKit, or CoreLocation to implement this feature.

 
 

Filters

Imagine you are in a hurry and want to rent a car quickly. You go into the app and it shows you many options for different cars. To choose the one that is right for you, you need to spend time and review all the options offered.

Filters allow users to quickly and easily find vehicles that match their specific needs. For example, a user can use filters to find vehicles that fit their budget, are within a certain radius, or have a certain number of seats. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the process of finding the right car.

The filter search screen should be user-friendly and understandable.

An example of how to display the filter search screen in a mobile app (image by Dmitry Lauretsky)

Here are some examples of what you can add to your filter search:

  • rental price
  • type of vehicle (e-scooter or bike), or a car class
  • amount of battery charge (and also how many kilometers you can go with that charge level)
  • rating based on reviews from other users
  • number of seats, etc.

 
 

Payment gateway

Integrate various payment options into your application: credit or debit card, PayPal, Apple and Google Pay, and much more. Now many apps even support the possibility of paying with cryptocurrency, so you may consider that, too. Why not? If it’s convenient for your client and keeps their loyalty to your service, go for it.

You can also add a system of bonuses and discounts for regular and new customers. Users can accumulate their bonuses and use them to pay for the ride.

 
 

Ratings and Reviews

Drivers can leave their scores and comment on their impressions after the trip. This will help other customers to choose a suitable car, try different models in practice, and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages.

This is another opportunity for you to catch vehicle malfunctions early and undergo maintenance on time. You may even implement a specific review feature dedicated solely to this purpose. For example, run a short survey when a user brings a vehicle back, to check whether everything works well. To encourage them to do the survey, you may offer a small discount on the next rent.

You can make your own rating system for EVs, for example on a 5-point scale.

You can display the rating of the car as a separate block. So the driver, when choosing, will always see how much other users rated the car on average (image by Matt Wojtaś)

Don’t be afraid of bad reviews in the application as there will always be people who don’t like something. In case of a negative comment, reply to this driver, try to find out the reason, or correct the situation. Let other users see that you are communicating with customers and trying to make your service better.

 
 

Push notifications

Push notifications are a great way to keep the user informed when they’re not in the app. For your convenience, notifications can be divided into two types: those that are needed to communicate with drivers as they’re renting an EV — so-called foreground notifications, and those that passively notify drivers about new updates, promotions, and services.

Foreground notifications

Example of a foreground notification in Uber (image by Macrumors)

If everything is simple and clear with promotional ones, then foreground notifications let the user understand how their ride is going: traveled distance, current cost to pay, and other info that may be important in real-time. These notifications can’t be swiped away and stay on the notification screen or the lock screen as long as the app is in use.

Another way to use notifications is to inform the user if they’re leaving the coverage area of ​​​​your service.

Your development team can add this feature thanks to Firebase Cloud Messaging (the most common way){target=_blank rel=nofollow}. Two alternative services are Sailthru and Airship. They have more advanced functionality, so ask your team which option will be the best solution for your companion app.

 
 

History

The entire ride history should be saved both for the user and for each individual transport in your administrative panel.

On the History screen the first thing you need to do is display all past trips. You can design this by adding a map that shows the route.

An example of a History in an e-scooter rental app (image by Lay)

On this screen, users should be able to view their previous trips and analyze their costs, and distance. But in addition, you can add more indicators like this:

  • list of rented vehicles
  • list of previous rental locations
  • a map showing the locations of past rentals, as well as the date and time of each rental
  • rating system for each rental, as well as the ability to leave reviews
  • a list of upcoming rentals, allowing users to quickly view and manage their upcoming bookings.

These few numbers can make the user engaged in your application, and as the numbers increase, they’ll use your service more and more often. Moreover, that’s the right place to introduce some gamification features. For example, you may award badges for in-app achievements linked to traveled distance, total time on the road, etc.

From the management side, keeping a history of trips for each vehicle will help you to:

  • keep track of all vehicles
  • monitor charging
  • follow the maintenance of the electric vehicle
  • track profitability.

 
 

📊 How your EV Business Model Affects the Technical Side of your App

Before developing an application for renting an electric vehicle, you should consider different technical challenges that may come with your business model.

Below we described key things that are worth your attention regarding different business models:

Business model

Challenges

Station-based


An electric vehicle has a designated place (station) where it can be taken or left

  • Enable real-time data exchange between stations and the app, so users always have up-to-date info on vehicle availability.

  • Implement an alert system that will notify if the driver’s left the car outside the station.

Free-floating


There are no fixed EV stations so a vehicle can be left in any place convenient for the driver

  • Data exchange and constant updating of information between the application and the server to display available electric vehicles on the map, display charge, and so on.

  • Well-established anti-theft and anti-vandalism system to protect EVs.

  • Administrative panel, where all vehicles, all users, and their trips will be displayed, as well as a notification will be received if someone has left the coverage area.

  • Establishing a keyless entry system - smart lock.

As you can see, from a development standpoint, there are a lot of app features and challenges that you and your team may encounter. Yet, don’t be afraid, as an experienced tech team can help you to handle that!

 
 

🚗 Electric Car Rental Service: Special Features

Here we’ll talk about specific features that are important in an electric car sharing app.

 
 

Detailed car info

Any user who plans to rent a car in your app most likely wants to know all the details of the vehicle. Sometimes, if the driver can’t find detailed information about the car, it may even cause them to switch to another service.

Detailed car details

The more details you provide to your users, the easier it will be for them to make a choice (image by Rayfan Tio Saputro)

Therefore, we recommend showing this info on your car details screen:

  • Model of the car.
  • Real photos of the car.
  • The current charge of the electric car and the reserve kilometers.
  • Number of passenger seats.
  • The availability of a child seat.
  • Reviews about the ride from other drivers.

 
 

Uploading Documents

One of the most important documents that you need to check with any person who is going to rent a car is their driver’s license.

A good solution would be to guide users through the verification process immediately after registration. Just ask drivers to upload the necessary documents from the gallery or take a photo.

How can you verify it then? Well, the old-school and the ineffective way would be to hire a person that will manually check all the documents. However, you may relax as nowadays there are many solutions that enable automatic verification. Your team has less work, users don’t have to wait long — everyone’s happy.

In the Tech Stack section, we’ll share some tools your developers can use to implement automated verification hassle-free.

 
 

Electric cars insurance system

Before the driver starts the engine of a newly rented car, ask them a few questions. Now we’ll explain which ones and why!

  1. Is there visible external damage to the machine? Please inspect the car and take a photo if you found any.

Things happen, and such an inspection will help you learn if something’s been done to your car while it was in a parking lot or while the last customer was using it. This small form can save you time and money. Moreover, it’ll be kind of relaxing for users too as they’ll know you’re not going to charge them for a scratch that was already there when they arrived.

Ask the user to inspect the car externally and if they notice any flaws, take a picture and upload it to the application.

Important: Very often car rental applications limit the number of photos users can upload to 2 or 3. We advise you to give the opportunity to upload more photos, for example, up to 10.

  1. Is the car interior clean?

This item is more about taking care of your client. Any driver is pleased to understand that you are worried about his comfort. In addition, it’s a good option for managing the process of cleaning cars.

Important: You can make the form of a rating or as questions with the answers proposed in advance: “Yes, clean”, “Not very” or “The interior is dirty”.

 
 

End of ride & Handover

This is the last stage of any trip, and its main purpose is to ensure a smooth car handover and provide the user with all the information about their ride.

On the end of the trip screen, show the driver all the main information. You can also add a mini-map with the route that the driver has traveled.

Illustrating the end-of-trip screen with all the information the driver needs (image by Artiom Larin)

What information should be displayed about the ride?

  • price
  • mileage
  • ride duration
  • ride map.

An important part of this feature is the car smart lock used to complete the trip. To make it work flawlessly, you need to configure the connection with the server in a way that it would immediately block the car after the completion of the ride. This can be easily done thanks to special APIs. We will talk about them in Tech Stack, so keep reading!

 
 

🚲 Electric Bicycle/E-Scooter App Development: Special Features

So, let’s talk about the special features of an e-scooter and bike rental app. Why are they important and how will they help you meet your e-scooter business goals?

 
 

QR code / ID scanner integration

This is a basic feature thanks to which the user will get access to the e-scooter. Therefore, your application must have access to the camera and the ability to scan the QR code. Step by step, it works like this:

  1. Registered user scans a QR code.
  2. The application sends a signal to the server with the ID of the electric scooter.
  3. The server approves the request and sends an alert about the availability of the electric scooter to the application.
  4. Electric scooter is unlocked and ready for the ride.

In order to implement this feature, it’s enough to use an existing third-party solution. Talk to your developers and choose one that matches your business needs.

 
 

Battery life indicator

The user must be aware of the e-scooter battery сharge they want to use — it should be enough to get to the desired point.

In the e-scooter companion app you have to display the battery charge status so that the user can always see it and be guided by the charge indicators.

A good case of how to display the battery charge of an electric scooter in the application (image by MindInventory UI/UX)

In addition, it’ll help you control the battery level of all scooters, charge them in time and prevent the batteries from wearing out.

Keeping track of all the important metrics is not as difficult as you might think, thanks to Battery Management Systems. This special electronic system is found in all electric vehicles.

BMS for electric vehicles is responsible for monitoring and managing batteries, ensuring the health of battery cells, and supplying power to vehicle systems. This system monitors the state of charge and manages battery optimization through cell balancing, which increases battery life in the long run. When the battery is being charged, the EV’s battery management system determines how much current can be allowed in the individual cells. The BMS also helps to indicate and show the driver the actual state of charge of the battery.

 
 

Distance meter

The cost of a ride on your e-scooter depends on your business model: what price of unlocking the e-scooter you have (if any), and whether you charge for the time of use or the traveled distance.

To calculate the distance that the user has traveled, an odometer is used (this is a special device that measures the distance; it can be mechanical or electrical). In order to integrate it into e-scooter apps, you can use various libraries or APIs depending on the programming language.

 
 

⚙️ How to Enable Hardware Features of an E-Scooter Sharing App

To enable the hardware features of your e-scooter mobile app, you’ll need to make sure that the hardware components on the EV are properly connected and functioning. This may involve installing sensors, GPS modules, and other components that are necessary for the app to communicate with the EV and track its location or other parameters. You may also need to make sure that the EV’s software is up to date and configured properly to work with the app. Let’s take a look at all the options below.

 
 

Anti-theft and anti-vandalism alarm

Anti-theft and anti-vandalism systems on any electric vehicle are security measures designed to prevent unauthorized use or damage to your EV. These alarms may use sensors to detect that the electric vehicle has been tampered with or moved without authorization. You can also set up an alert system for your admin panel or security service.

Let's take a closer look at what alarms you can use to secure your electric vehicle:

  1. Motion sensors: detect the movement of an electric vehicle. Can trigger an alarm.
  2. Vibration sensors: detect when the scooter is strongly shaking or vibrating. Can trigger an alarm when suspicious activity is detected.
  3. GPS: uses satellite technology to track location. It sends a notification of suspicious activity to the administrative panel.
  4. Immobilizers: disable the engine or other components of an electric vehicle if it’s driven without permission.
  5. Alarms: use loud sirens to attract the attention of people on the street and disorientate the thief.

In order not to connect all these alarms manually, you can use the services of ready-made services:

For E-Scooter/Bike

For electric car

Trackting EVO — smart anti-theft GPS device.

VOS system — a service that offers the installation of various indicators in order to keep your electric car fleet.

ESB Anti-Theft System — e-bike theft protection with geolocation control.

Autocrypt — a service that will help you protect your car from cyber attacks.

 
 

Maintenance sensor

Maintenance sensors are used to monitor the condition of the scooter and alert the rider to any potential issues that need to be addressed. These sensors can monitor the condition of the engine, battery, tires, and other components, helping to detect problems and prevent breakdowns.

Among the sensors that are used to monitor the condition of an electric vehicle:

  • Engine temperature sensors: measure the temperature of the engine and protect it from overheating.
  • Battery sensors: measure and analyze the state of charge of the battery. All the information obtained is used to regulate the output power of the engine and prevent the over-discharge of the battery.
  • Tire pressure sensors: measure tire pressure. The optimal pressure for a particular scooter model helps to control the scooter better.
  • Brake sensors: measure the force applied to the brakes and adjust the brake response.
  • Speed sensors: measure and maintain a safe speed.

 
 

🖥️ Admin panel

Your admin panel should be set up to show all the top metrics and track user journeys. It should be convenient for your administrators to quickly find the necessary information in case of an emergency.

Here are some main items that should be displayed on the admin panel:

Dashboard

This’ll allow the administrator to perform all tasks related to users and trips. Track scooters, completed rides, payment methods, and more.

User Management

In order to track and manage user accounts, block, edit, and view profiles.

Rider Management

This allows the administrator to keep track of all active trips.

Vehicle Management

One of the important items that helps to track the condition of an electric vehicle.

Earnings

In order to manage and analyze the company’s income. Also, this is an important function in matters of the return of funds.

Reports & Analytics

By conducting certain analytics, the administrator can create reports on the company’s income/expenses, users, and many other important items that you always need to keep an eye on in the rental business.

The main challenge for you will be to collect and customize the display of all important information on one screen. In addition, it should be convenient for the administrator, because they perform one of the important jobs in the electric vehicle rental business: monitor, analyze, and solve the problems of users and the vehicles themselves.

 
 

📈 Business-related Challenges when Developing an EV Rental App

Apart from the software development itself, you’ll have to consider a few business-related challenges to solve. As we mainly focus on technical expertise, we won’t go too much into detail. Yet, these challenges seem important to mention so you have a full picture of what a “develop an EV rental app” journey looks like :)

 
 

Personal data privacy compliance

Typically, the documents that need to be uploaded to the electric car rental app include identification (driver’s license, passport), proof of address (such as a utility bill or bank statement), and a driver’s license selfie. Some companies also require insurance.

All personal information and processing must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a European Union (EU) regulation that allows the secure collection and processing of personal data for lawful uses. In the context of the electric car rental application, the GDPR ensures that customers’ personal data is kept safe and protected, and that they have the right to access, correct, and delete data at any time.

You can read more about this in our article:

Read also:

How to Make Sure Your App or Website is HIPAA, PIPEDA & GDPR Compliant

 
 

Get permission from the city

Any permission to operate a vehicle rental business is an individual topic for each city. First of all, you need to contact the city administration and find out the entire list of required documents. These are mainly: a business license, insurance (for carsharing you need two types of insurance, for your business and for cars that are rented to drivers), a tax number, and permission from the city.

 
 

Take into account weather conditions (mainly for e-scooters and bicycles)

Weather conditions have a big impact on the success of an e-scooter business. In warm weather, the demand for electric scooters is much greater than during rain or strong winds.

In order to avoid problems, e-scooters must be weather-resistant, as well as strong and durable. To do this, you can purchase weatherproof models of e-scooters.

It’s a good idea to keep in touch with the customer at all times and provide discounts or other incentives in inclement weather, as well as to ensure that electric scooters are stored in safe, weather-resistant locations.

 
 

Teach the user basic usage skills

If in the case of an electric car, all drivers have a document that confirms and allows them to drive a car, then electric scooters have a wider audience of users. And many of them have never used this type of vehicle before.

A good solution would be a step-by-step guide before the first ride for each new user. In just a few steps you can explain how to operate an electric scooter, how to pick up speed, how to brake, and where it’s allowed to ride. This will greatly reduce accidents and damage to the vehicle itself.

 
 

Technical stack of Electric Vehicle Rental Applications

Here we have collected for you all the technical tools that may be useful to your team in the development of the EV rental app:

  1. MySQL is one of the best database choices for storing your application data. It’s functional and supports all the necessary features your EV Rental backend might need.
  2. Tools for developing the API will depend on whether you want to have a REST or a GraphQL (there are other types, but these are the most popular ones) API. With GraphQL, a great tool is Hasura, which is close to a no-code solution, but is very powerful nonetheless.
  3. You can use DigitalOcean Cloud Services to set up the database and the API itself. This is a cloud service that ships with numerous deployment features. One nice feature is that DigitalOcean allows you to both set up a database (with regular backups) and an API for making requests.
  4. Smartcar offers a wide variety of APIs. Among them: Location API , Odometer API, EV Battery API, EV Charging API, Lock & Unlock API.
  5. Jumio will help you set up the verification process for users and their documents.
  6. The frontend tech stack should be split into two parts: the web admin panel and the mobile app. One good and popular solution is building everything in the React ecosystem. For the web panel, that would mean using tools like Create React App, and for the mobile app the React Native framework.

 
 

💡 Takeaways

An electric vehicle rental app will give your business the opportunity to grow, be competitive, attract new customers and increase revenue.

Well, let’s summarize all the main points that shouldn’t be forgotten during the mobile app development of an electric vehicle:

  • Get all the necessary documents for doing business and insure it.
  • Think about basic features for your business model.
  • Thanks to key features, make your application useful and understandable for the user, but don’t overload it.
  • Provide a fast connection to the server so that the processing of any request doesn’t take much time.
  • Set up a convenient administrative panel to manage and analyze data.
  • Pay special attention to hardware features, connect all sensors on vehicles and protect your EV fleet from unpleasant situations.

And if you want to create an electric vehicle rental application, you can write to us and we'll see how we can help your project skyrocket 🚀. Let's work together and build great products together!

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