We recently covered the new strategic partnership between EverCharge and Schneider Electric, which is aimed directly at developing and delivering a comprehensive EV charging solution for multi-tenant buildings.
With the new product launch planned for later this year, we were eager to learn more and sat down for a virtual coffee break with EverCharge CEO Jason Appelbaum and Pierre Sacré, Director of Electric Vehicle Solutions at Schneider Electric. We talked about how the partnership came together, details behind the new product, and what the future holds for the collaboration.
CT: From what you have shared about the partnership between EverCharge and Schneider Electric to date, you are really taking aim at one of the big gaps in EV charging infrastructure and doing so in a way that minimizes the investment building owners have to make while maximizing the value they get from the solution. How did this partnership come together?
PS: “From a Schneider perspective, meeting with EV drivers and potential EV drivers, we have heard many times that people saying “Well, I really want to drive an electric car but I live in condominiums or an apartment complex and I can’t get a charging station at home and without that, my range is limited.”
We have even heard some leadership basically telling people off of investing in EVs because they were living in multi-unit dwellings. So from there, we looked at what was available and what was possible. EverCharge came by way of a conversation when one of our corporate VPs met with Jason Appelbaum and we started the relationship.
CT: EverCharge is working with Schneider Electric on a new product. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
JA: This is the first generation product between Schneider and EverCharge. We found that if you add an EverCharge box to the existing Schneider offering, it enables the chargers to use Smart car technology. We are calling the box Wattson and are adding functionality to the box as well so the box itself is useful on its own outside of just charging an electric vehicle.
That box is going to have a 110v plug in as well. That 110v plug-in will have the access control as well as all the EverCharge technology to power manage the 110v outlet for your e-bikes, golf carts and trickle charging for electric vehicle charging.We found that in developing this joint offer that there is a very large hole in this space and this product is designed to address that.
How many chargers can a single EverCharge/Schneider Electric EVSE unit support?
JA: It is a still 1:1 relationship so there is one Wattson box per one car charger. What you really should be looking at is that they are installable separately and in this case, we have a Wattson box that has been paired with a Schneider charger and it is sort of one conjoined product if you will. They essentially bolt together.
CT: Do the Wattson boxes talk to each other to create a network? For instance, in a multi-tenant installation with multiple Wattson boxes, will they communicate with each other?
JA: Absolutely! The way this works is that it leverages the current EverCharge Smart technology so the EverCharge technology is currently wired to the building and does the power management technology and SmartPower technology.
CT: What type of speeds do these units support? Are they comparable to charging speeds on standard Level 2 EVSEs today?
JA: Speeds are comparable to what we are seeing at Level 2 today. It is all about balancing loads. The 110v addition is not intended to be used for primary car charging but more of an add-on feature for ebikes and scooters.
CT: Is there capability for a multi-tenant complex owner to bill EV drivers for the power?
JA: Yes. All of the standard EverCharge features are going to carry over and that includes our automatic billing services as well as maintenance and support.
PS: EverCharge has really thought the full package through and has a great approach to solving the muti-unit dwelling issue.
CT: Are you looking at DC fast charging as part of the solution? For example, installing one DC Fast Charger as a “gas station” for the complex for tenants to quickly charge up?
JA: DC fast charging in multi-tenant buildings doesn’t make a lot of sense in multi tenant buildings because the way people use electric vehicles. They come in, they plug in their car and leave it and drive it out the next day or later that day. It is not a public space and when you look at DC fast charge, it is a finite resource in a very large complex with all those vehicles, it doesn’t make sense to use all that power in one spot when you can divide that power up and get the same result.
It is a matter of scale, really. Because you are relying on a driver to sit in his car for 30 minutes and when it’s done, to move. It’s just not a practical situation. In multi-tenant buildings, installing one [fast] charger in one spot doesn’t solve any problems. In fact, it creates more problems.
CT: Are any pilots of the solution installed today?
JA: EverCharge is installing today and will shortly be rolling out the new Wattson solution.
PS: I want to emphasize this: EverCharge has a box with the EverCharge Smart technology in it. We are now working on deploying Evercharge Wattson and Schneider together and are now working on getting the two technologies to marry together. It’s not that complicated and we will be deploying that combined product later in the year.
CT: When will the combined offering be available to building owners and installers?
PS: We are looking towards the end of Q3.
CT: What distribution model are you looking to use to get the product out?
JA: EverCharge has several paths to market. We will maintain the paths we are currently using: through our installer network, through direct contact with the building directors and we will be leveraging the Schneider network as well.
CT: Getting back to the product, what types of scaling are you seeing in current deployments of EverCharge solutions? For example, is the solution allowing 100% of the maximum charging speed throughout the night?
JA: It depends on a lot of factors and it is really dynamic. The EverCharge system dynamically allocates power based on what it understands to be necessary. It learns driver behaviors and is predicting where that vehicle is supposed to be and will hop up [the charging rate] as necessary.
So whether that means each car drops down to 6 amps then one car drops off and the others jump up dramatically, it just depends on the EVs connected. So no queuing at all.
It is not so much about charging speed. The goal is to have everyone charged by the morning. If your car gets charged in 6 hours or it takes 2 hours or it takes 15 minutes, the goal is to make sure that even in a multi-tenant situation, you end up with every customer having the maximum charge in the morning.
Playing Devil’s advocate, I tossed out a what-if scenario to penetrate the details of the logic underpinning the solution. EVs requiring more kilowatt hours per night will likely increase as more high-range EVs are sold like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model S.
CT: In your earlier release, you shared that the solution will have an optional Tesla charging adapter. A Tesla Model S charging at Level 2 requires 10 hours at the full charging rate to fill up completely. Is the EverCharge system talking with the car to understand how much power is needed in order to more accurately allocate power?
JA: We can talk to the vehicles charging but I cannot talk to the vehicle’s battery management system. The SOC (state of charge) is unknown to us. We have developed software so that we can really have a very educated guess of what the SOC is.
Basically, understanding driver behavior and how they use the system is crucial to how EverCharge manages power. The situation is very, very rare to end up with a vehicle where it needs to charge 10 hours. It is an outlier at best. People do not put 200 miles on their pack every day.
We find people driving normal driving distances with cars. It doesn’t change just because it’s an electric car, it shifts from the pump and those same miles need to be put back in the car as opposed to the whole pack every night. We don’t really look at how many cars can charge from empty because statistically that’s pretty close to impossible.
CT: Are you tracking specific vehicle IDs so day-to-day usage can be more accurately predicted?
JA: It’s close to that level. We don’t track IDs specifically but we track charging behavior: Your charger is yours to use. Your ID card is assigned to your charger and it unlocks your charger. We don’t need to follow individual ID cards. I know you’re charging at the charger because it’s yours.
That’s the difference in the EverCharge model: we offer dedicated charging as opposed to the guest space model which doesn’t make a lot of sense these days. That’s why we’re not super worried if it takes 2 hours or 4 hours. We are worried about getting the fastest charge in the most logical order.
CT: Are you looking at supporting an array of standard charging adapters like J1772, Tesla, European Standards with Schneider chargers?
PS: We are looking at extending the partnership with EverCharge outside of North America. Jason [Appelbaum] visited Europe with me towards the end of the year. So yes, we will have other cord standards delivered with the offer.
Pierre closed with a great summary of where Schneider sees the partnership going from here forward:
“From a Schneider perspective, we are really excited because we really want to support electro-mobility because it is reducing the impact to the environment and it’s helping urbanization without adding to the pollution level. The partnership with EverCharge seems like a logical fit. We are plodding along to get this to market as quickly as we can.”