When I headed over to Amsterdam a few weeks ago to give a presentation at rEVolution 2017, I expected EV-Box would have some cool news to share, but I didn’t expect as much as I got on the product side or the business/ownership side. I’ll touch on the latter briefly here, but I covered it in a couple of previous articles and will dig into it more in another CleanTechnica exclusive soon, but I think there’s a big story when it comes to Elvi that perhaps doesn’t seem so notable on the surface and needs extra effort to highlight.
EV-Box has produced and sold several iterations of charging stations, and Elvi may just seem like the latest upgrade, but there are a couple of fundamental changes this time around.
If you want to just watch the Elvi unveiling, you can jump to 6:20 into the CleanTechnica video embedded below.
For a little backdrop, it’s worth recognizing that EV-Box is in the middle of a dramatic transition period. After being the only major self-funded and profitable EV charging station company for several years (since 2010), EV-Box was acquired by Engie (the presentation is captured in the video above as well, with the primary part of that announcement starting at 20:05). Engie’s vision is clear — quick global growth in order to dominate one of the biggest transportation industries of the 21st century. With that being Engie’s goal, you can be sure that’s also EV-Box’s goal.
Elvi is a key component of the plan to achieve that. The internal hardware has been completely revamped compared to previous products in order to allow easy modification as is needed for different markets, different customers, and customers’ changing needs over time.
The station can easily be changed from a 3.7 kW charger to a 22 kW charger, for example. As Wijnand Diemer, EV-Box Senior Product & Project Manager, explains in the video/presentation above, this could be very useful for someone who has a plug-in hybrid today and is adequately served by a 3.7 kW charger right now but may eventually buy a pure-electric car with a large battery (like a Tesla) and be able to benefit from a 22 kW charger. All you basically have to do is change out the cable (an easy process) and you can upgrade to faster charging capacities. In other words, Elvi is ready for whatever electric future you may ride into — in the coming decade at least.
This may seem like a small matter, but it’s a key topic of consideration for people first going electric or already needing to upgrade their charging station. I’ve seen countless discussions about which is better — getting a system that just fits your needs today (say, 3.7 kW), one a bit beyond your current needs (for example, 10 kW), or one really ready for that big-battery future (i.e., 22 kW). A system like Elvi seems like the perfect answer. It’s the first launch of “a new generation of charging stations,” as EV-Box worded it.
Aside from the consumer benefit, this modularity helps to make Elvi a scaleable product that easily works for different customers in regions across the world. From a press release about Elvi, EV-Box writes that it is “designed to charge any new electric car coming into the market for the next 10 years. Elvi delivers a new charging experience, its breakthrough upgradable technology is a unique feature in the e- mobility industry.”
Here are other key summary points from EV-Box about what Elvi offers:
⊕ Upgradeable power output technology: Electric vehicle batteries are advancing before our eyes, showing higher range capacity and requiring higher charging levels per new model. As a result, many electric vehicle drivers will require a change or upgrade of their local charging infrastructure in the upcoming years. Not with Elvi. Elvi is designed with the next generation of EVs in mind, allowing the station owner to increase power output up to 22kW. (Note: The EV driver’s home must meet the required electrical connection criteria).
⊕ Fully connected, interoperable ready and smart: Elvi embodies all the latest industry trends. It’s ready for interoperable charging cards (roaming) and other charging networks. Elvi is connected to a fresh and new cloud-based platform built by EV-Box, and has all the smart charging technology already featured within the EV-Box product line, such as dynamic load balancing.
⊕ A modular disruptive design: Elvi is built up from 3 different components: the wall dock, the charging station and the charging cable. The wall dock can be pre-installed by electricians prior to the arrival of the charging station module, after which the EV driver can easily click on the charger and attach the charging cable. This allows for easier and more timely installation at home as well as in condominiums.
Elvi will become available in the European and North American markets throughout 2017. Elvi will be available in 3 colors with 4 different power outputs (3.7kW, 7.4kW, 11kW, and 22kW). Elvi can be outfitted with charge cables in 4 or 8 meters length with a Type 1 or Type 2 charge cable. Additionally, a separate cable dock is available to properly store Elvi’s charge cable and plug.
Apparently, EV-Box also has a new software platform that is supposed to help with global scaling as well. Though, details on that software were not presented, just a name — EverOn.
If you jump into the segment of the video about Engie’s acquisition of EV-Box, you can see Thierry Lepercq focus with great emphasis on the need to become much bigger globally and the clear #1 player in EV charging. “There’s no place for second players,” Lepercq said. “You’re either #1, or you’re gone.”
So, this is Engie’s goal, and EV-Box’s goal, and the pathway is clearly being led on the hardware side by the modular, scaleable Elvi.
By the way, if you didn’t watch the video and are not familiar with Scandinavian languages, Diemer says that Elvi means “noble friend” in Scandinavia (I assume that crosses Norway, Sweden, and Finland, but some of our Scandinavian readers can probably quickly correct me if not.)