Maxem Allows For EV Charging On Europe’s Constrained Grid Connections

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Maxem is an Amsterdam-based company that makes a bolt-on solution for residential customers that gives them control over the large electricity consumers in their home.

Since we had lunch with the team in Amsterdam two years ago, the company has continued to refine its solution, hacking into the second generation Tesla Wall Connector and even working with Tesla to optimize the integration. We talked with Maxem’s CEO Jan-Willem Heinen about the solution and how it has progressed since we first covered it.

“In 2016, Tesla came to us and said ‘what do you think about dynamic load balance’,” Heinen said. The question was right up their alley, as Maxem’s core competency was developed around fitting larger electricity loads like electric vehicle chargers, heat pumps, and the like into the connection-constrained grid connections that are so common in Europe.

Constrained Grid Connections

“The problem is that grid connections in the Netherlands are really small,” he said. Stepping up to a bigger connection, “is like 700 euros per year more,” making the opportunity to make do with the normal connection an attractive financial proposition. Maxem was built to address the needs of these core European customers and, “it’s the perfect addition to the home if you want to keep it light.”

“We’re now shipping to the Netherlands and as the primary market, shipping some of our products to Europe,” Jan-Willem said. Many European customers have very small connections to the grid. For example, “One 20amp grid connection is standard in Italy.” Here in the US, that wouldn’t be enough to run the heat pump in the home, let alone the car chargers, TV, and lights. “You really can’t charge your Tesla without load balancing.”

For EV chargers specifically, they focused on the Tesla Wall Connector because of its affordable price of 500 euros and the impressive connectivity that it comes with from the factory. After hundreds of installations built on endless hours of hacking the solution and some help from Tesla, they landed on a stable solution that they are now looking to scale up with.

The Maxem Unit

Today, Maxem’s product can be installed in an hour and from that point on, it just works. Building on their stable solution, they can now confidently build Maxem units at a much larger scale without having to worry about an unforeseen programming change by Tesla throwing a wrench into the works. “We have 1,000 products in the field today where you manage your wall connector up and down. That’s up to 25 amps and down to zero.”

These units are around 400 euros, with a target price that’s very similar to the price of an EV charger. Tesla chargers were the obvious target, because the larger battery sizes can suck down much more power in a night than the batteries in smaller electric vehicles.

Because many EV chargers require installation from a professional, Maxem followed the existing model, partnering with the existing network of EV chargers to also install the Maxem. If at all possible, installations are bundled, lowering the incremental overhead cost of having an installer come out to a home twice to add the Maxem to an existing charger. Working with an installer also provides a built-in expert who can support the products over their lifetime.

Looking To The Future

The existing product is very exciting, but Jan-Willem can already see a day where Maxem’s solution is pushed into the cloud. “The future of our product lies on not having any hardware,” he said.

As for the inevitable push into other markets, Jan-Willem shared that while the US is indeed a lucrative market in terms of electric vehicle penetration, “the US is a wildcard.” The weather-dependent climate of international relations over the last two years makes it a risky move.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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