Published on October 7th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


ubitricity Can Cut EV Charging System Costs “90%”

October 7th, 2014 by  

Editor’s Note (ZS): The photos above and the videos below, which I took, have been added to this repost (Roy and I were there together!), and I would also note that the 90% cut in cost compared to a conventional EV charging station is partly due to the fact that the “intelligence” of the charging system goes with the charging cord, which must be purchased by the customer somehow, so there is still that significant cost being redistributed. Still, this looks like it provides significant infrastructure and operational efficiency, and it allows customers to charge on their own electricity plans, which can be 100% green. Also, I think this really provides a good solution to the perennial issue of finding a sustainable way to adequately fund EV charging stations — mostly through a charging cord purchased by the customer. For more info, here’s Roy’s excellent piece on ubitricity, originally published in the ECOreport, which I think is better than what I would have written:

A Berlin based start-up compares its smart cord to the introduction of wireless internet access. There was a time when hotels provided individual internet terminals for their guests. Now that is usually done wirelessly. Similarly, a smart cord allows EV owners to the supplier of their choice, streamlining the billing process. This is one of many ideas through which ubitricity hopes to cut up to 90% of the cost from EV charging.

They want to do away with costly charging stations. These typically cost thousands of dollars (or euros). ubitricity’s answer is to mount sockets on streetlights and other existing outlets. According to their website:

As-off today, some 1 to 2% of the approximately 10 million lights poles throughout Germany could immediately be refitted with charging spots (single phase, AC), as their grid connection and position allow for charging day or night. The approximately 300.000 light poles that are exchanged or renewed per year present the next opportunity for cost-effective rollout of charging infrastructure.

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This would dramatically cut EV infrastructure costs.

Furthermore, as billing is immediate and transaction based, tariffs can take advantage of grid load.

ubitricity has a contract to set up 100 of its charging stations in Berlin. A joint press release with Berlin energy provider Grundgrün predicts ubitricity’s mobile metering system “will soon be charging Grundgrün energy at every street light.”

Another pilot project will result in 60 charging stations in the Lake Constance region.

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“The billing service that ubitricity is offering fleet managers enables separate consumption records regardless of the charging location,” said Dr. Frank Pawlitschek, founder and COO of ubitricity, in the press release announcing his company’s contract with the Freiburg Archdiocese’s eEV fleet.

ubitricity’s smart cord works in any charging station, but the “smart” function is restricted to systems using their socket.

Though ubitricity’s technology is impressive, it is not the only company bringing forward ways to cut EV infrastructure costs. There are alternate technologies springing up on three continents. Some of their fiercest may come from the wireless sector. The only thing that seems certain is that the efficiency of EV infrastructures is improving, while costs come down.

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ubitricity employs a team of around 30 people at the Berlin Campus of the European Energy Forum (EUREF). Knut Hechtfischer and Frank Pawlitschek founded the company in 2008 and Rupert Stützle joined them, as CTO, two years ago.

It is worthy of note that ubitricity has been nominated as “Conveyance of the Year” at this year’s the Energy Awards in Berlin. The outcome will be announced on October 23.

(All photos below the editor’s note taken in Berlin by Roy L Hales)

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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • Bob_Wallace

    There’s going to be a theft problem with cables which are simply plugged in at both ends.

    The cost of the metering part is simply one of manufacturing scale. When we’re pumping out millions of them the cost will drop to the range of the $20 Kill-A-Watt.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    Currently EVs are only a practicable transport solution for those fortunate enough to have off street parking where they can charge their batteries overnight. This idea could allow those who park in the street to join the EV revolution. Best regards.

    • Agreed, and agreed.

    • Offgridman

      Many times there has been the point made that apartment/condo dwellers in the city with only on street parking won’t have any place to charge at home if they get an EV.
      This could help to resolve that situation. Unfortunately though in American cities where anything that is not chained and locked down tends to disappear. Look at the complicated locking racks that had to be developed for the bike share programs.
      So unless a function is developed to lock the charging cord in place (which is going to add to the base price) this system probably won’t see much adoption in the US.

    • Bob_Wallace

      16% of US drivers now have a place to plug in while at work.

      We need to expand those outlets. People who park ‘on the street’ could charge during the day. And the grid could use those plugged in vehicles as dispatchable load, which would allow for greater solar penetration before storage is required.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    Electricity is so cheap that it does not make sense to install electricity meter into public charging poles or force EV drivers to buy portable meter like in this case. It is just better to increase tax rates accordingly.

    If we forget the electricity metering device, the cost of public EV slow charging pole is only about €20, including work.

    Fast chargers on the otherhand will be free for consumers FOREVER, because car manufacturers are paying the electricity bills. Those car manufacturers who do not offer free to use global fast charging network, cannot expect to sell that many electric cars.

    • JamesWimberley

      Ye, I think we have an economic case for communism here, when the cost of the billing system is of the same order as the value of the product. Compare free city wifi.

      Some cities are thinking of charging for residential on-street parking on congestion grounds, They could throw in the electricity as a sweetener.

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