BoostMi app brings sharing economy to dead car batteries

A group of Quebec entrepreneurs believes its Uber-like, battery-boosting service will be the just the thing winter drivers are waiting for.

CAA says untrained boosters could pose safety risk

Drivers can use the app to request a jump from any drivers who have signed up as boosters. (Radio-Canada)

A group of Quebec entrepreneurs believes its Uber-like, battery-boosting service will be the just the thing winter drivers are waiting for. 

The app, called BoostMi, will charge $25 a boost. Of that, $20 goes directly into the account of the booster, while BoostMi keeps $5. Like Uber, no cash changes hands as it's all handled electronically by the app.

The service is preparing to launch in Montreal in the coming days.

"Our market, it's not just Montreal. It's Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Sarnia, Kingston... even Boston. We cover all the markets," said François Lambert, one of the company's co-founders who formerly appeared on the French-language version of Dragon's Den.

Lambert said unlike the controversial ride-share service UberX, BoostMi won't cause waves because there's no regulations around boosting car batteries.

François Lambert said the app is aimed at quickly connecting drivers with someone who can give them a boost. (Radio-Canada)

Users can expect to have someone respond to their request for a boost within 15 minutes, he said. 

The company says it already has 1,000 booster vehicles ready to roll on launch day in Montreal. That includes taxi companies that have partnered with the app.

BoostMi approached cab companies and towing companies who already offer the service to join the network, which aims to act as a facilitator.

"It's in our interest to take part," said Sabrina Doyon general manager of Taxi Co-op.

"It costs us nothing and we can collect the fees. The drivers will still get their $20."

CAA expresses safety concerns

BoostMi will offer a short tutorial on how to boost a car, but advises users it's not liable in the event of an injury.

CAA-Québec isn't convinced that encouraging untrained drivers to perform the service routinely is a good idea.

"People that haven't been trained, that's when it can get dangerous," said CAA-Quebec spokeswoman, Anne-Sophie Hamel.

"We don't improvise when it comes to boosting. It takes a certain level of expertise."

She added that dead batteries aren't always the actual issue when a car won't start and said the long waits for a jump from CAA, cited by BoostMi as one of the reasons to use the service, are a thing of the past.

The typical wait for a jump now is around 30 minutes, she said.