The charging of electric vehicles in city centers has always been challenging, simply because many apartment buildings do not have private parking spaces available to install AC charging stations for each EV owner.
A potential solution might be curbside charging points, consisting of a large publicly available system. A pilot project with curbside charging points has been recently launched in New York City by itselectric. This Brooklyn-based electric vehicle curbside charging company partnered strategically with Hyundai CRADLE and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
The plan will demonstrate and test how the idea works using six units deployed across two locations: at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and the Brooklyn Navy Yard in spring 2023.
“For two months, all six charging posts will be user-tested by publicly recruited EV drivers local to the area, allowing drivers to validate and inform a for-market product. All six posts will remain operational for an additional four months following the initial pilot.”
The itselectric’s curbside charging points are a type of standard AC charging station (Level 2, most likely rated at several kilowatts to handle overnight charging) – however, they are very compact, durable, and feature a fully detachable charging cord, which is uncommon in North America (sometimes stations without fixed cables are used in Europe, but it was basically never the case with the SAE J1772 plug in the United States).
A detachable charging cord means that the station should be less prone to damage or vandalism, but at the same time, they are less convenient for users who need to retrieve the cable from the vehicle’s trunk at every use. Depending on the weather, those cables could also get dirty. In other words, there are weak points to the system.
Another element of itselectric’s curbside charging points is that the company offers revenue sharing for residential property owners.
“The pilot program will be itselectric’s largest public demonstration of its charging network, which is designed to help cities meet their carbon reduction targets and reduce capital expenditure by completely avoiding the infrastructure upgrades normally needed to support on-street charging. This technology brings EV charging to new urban neighborhoods, which enables more people to make the switch to electric vehicles and aligns with Hyundai’s objective of democratizing electric vehicle technology.”
Hyundai is engaged in the project because itselectric was named as a finalist in Hyundai CRADLE’s EV Open Innovation Challenge. Olabisi Boyle, Vice President of product planning and mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor North America, explained that “itselectric’s modular AC charging solution brings low-cost, revenue-generating infrastructure to traditionally underserved urban communities around the country.”
It will be exciting to see whether the experiment results will be good enough to attract investors and launch some broader rollout, covering entire streets with charging poles and building the whole network.
Nathan King, CEO & co-founder of itselectric, said:
“The team at Hyundai has been incredibly supportive and we could not have envisioned a better place than Brooklyn, where it all began, to put our first chargers into the ground. The United States has high goals for electric vehicle adoption, but the country is not currently prepared for what this means in terms of accessible charging. Our technology is specifically built for cities to ensure that every community – no matter the median income or prevalence of driveways and garages – has access to clean transportation.”