5 Questions About EV Connect: Introducing EV Charging as a Service

We took a few moments to speak with Jordan Ramer, Founder and CEO of EV Connect.  EV Connect is transitioning the approach to public and enterprise EV charging management.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, the average EV owner will start his or her day with a full charge, do their daily driving, go home and then plug-in overnight.  They start each day with a full charge and the cycle renews itself.

january-2016-oregon-clean-fuels-program-jordan-ramer-of-ev-connect-5-638But industry, government and other verticals don’t have the luxury of a simple cycle.  Or they’re struggling with how to manage multiple locations across a city, county or larger geographic area.  Or they need help with creating a charging network, or need an expert to manage the network they’ve already built.  This is what EV Connect does.

EV Connect follows the SaaS (Software as a Service) model, with a twist.  They see charging as a service.  To that end EV Connect offers a range of solutions: charging stations, where they work with you to select the best unit for your location. They offer an open-source software tool to help station owners better manage multiple charging stations across a geographical area.  They can step in and become the management company for an existing network of charging stations. They also offer industry-specific management solutions–hotels/hospitality, government, parking operators, etc.

They also have a “Parking Lot Manifesto”, a lovely piece of content that will add nuance to your view of parking lots.

We asked Ramer 5 questions about EV Connect, enjoy his responses:

Q: If I follow your site correctly, this is for fleet owners, parking garages, government units, etc. What are the mechanics of providing “24/7 care and management”?

A: EV Connect’s solutions are used in workplace, fleet, public parking, multi-family residential and government locations around the U.S. In the same way that fueling a traditional gasoline powered vehicle is a 24-by-7 proposition, so is fueling an electric vehicle (EV). Driver demand for fuel is a 24 hours per day event. As such, access to fueling must be consistent and readily available within a fairly small geographic area. However, unlike gasoline fueling which is almost ubiquitously available, EV fueling does not yet have the critical mass to provide multiple options within a small geographic area. This places an increased burden on existing EV charging facilities to provide very high up-time, reasonable pricing and ease of access.

EV Connect’s management platform provides the charging station’s owner with 24-by-7 command & control functions, including real-time heartbeat monitoring; live-person customer (driver) service and support; and the ability to remotely manage the charging stations (for repair, administration and driver support). It also enables the EV drivers to see, in real-time, which charging stations are available; how much, if anything, a charging session will cost; and whether there are access restrictions to the charging stations (e.g., only available to employees).

Our goal is to provide a management solution to charging station owners, who can then provide an efficient, easy-to-use, reliable and cost-effective amenity to their customers, employees and the public.

Q: Why charging as a service? Isn’t it better to own the infrastructure long-term?

A: Some of EV Connect’s customers find the installation of EV charging to be a difficult capital expense to accommodate within their particular business model or capital budgeting process. As such, EV Connect developed a financing structure which enables its customers to restructure the expense from their capital budget to an operating expense. At the conclusion of EV Connect’s initial EV Charging-as-a- Service (EV CaaS) agreement, the customer has the opportunity to renew the agreement and continue to pay for the service. Other benefits of EV CaaS include hassle free charging management, an extended warranty, industry leading software capabilities, and a dedicated account manager.

 

Q: Who are some of your customers, if you can share them, and why are the top 3 reasons they signed with you?

EV Connect’s customers generally fall into two categories – government and enterprise. Within the government group, EV Connect’s customers include the New York Power Authority, Los Angeles Metro, California Department of Transportation, New York City Subway, NY State Energy Research & Development Authority, and many other governmental agencies and municipalities throughout the U.S. Enterprise customers include ADP, Dell, Hilton Worldwide, Time Warner Cable, Yahoo! and numerous other Fortune 500 corporations. EV Connect also counts many regional and local commercial real estate portfolio owners as its customers, with significant multi-family dwelling, industrial, and workplace portfolios.

These customers choose the EV Connect solution because of our ability to provide (a) 24×7 management, monitoring and system support; (b) access control; (c) extremely flexible pricing capabilities; (d) an open standards-based hardware and software architecture; (e) very competitive and attractive pricing; energy and demand management; and (g) features and functionalities which are unavailable from any other EV solutions provider.

EV-Connect-EVCloudQ: Can a person partner with EV Connect to create a turnkey chain of charging stations?

A: Customers absolutely can, and do, partner with EV Connect to create turnkey systems of charging stations within their environments. An example of this includes Los Angeles Metro, which has dozens of charging locations through Los Angeles County, all of which are visible to LA Metro (through an Operator Portal we provide to them) and branded as the LA Metro EV Charging Network to their drivers/riders. The LA Metro gets individual and consolidated reporting on the usage of these stations, centralized command & control functionality; uniform pricing and access control; and a consistent driver experience and support.

Within our Enterprise customer base, we have many multi-location organizations, both inside and outside the US, such as ADP, which require that there be a consistent, common and uniform driver and management experience of their EV charging environments. Many of our large Enterprise customers have customized the EV Connect platform to provide a unique experience for their drivers and constituents.

Q: What is holding back the charging industry?

There are primarily two issues which we believe are “holding back” the EV charging industry: EV adoption and the lack of a common interoperability platform.

As more electric vehicle models become available, EV adoption will accelerate. With this acceleration, the need for a distributed EV charging infrastructure becomes increasingly more important. Unlike the fueling systems for gasoline-powered vehicles, which is based on a centralized fueling architecture, EV charging represents a radical paradigm change whereby vehicle fueling can be done anywhere, in a decentralize fashion – at home, in the workplace, in public venues, along highways, at hospitality locations, etc. Our belief is that it is not IF the EV markets (including charging) will take off, but WHEN. The WHEN seems imminent given the increasing availability of EV models to suit different lifestyles, with compelling features such as longer ranges, and at enticing price points to consumers.

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