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SparkCharge Introduces The Roadie V3: A Larger & More Capable Portable Fast Charging Solution

SparkCharge invited CleanTechnica to come out to SparkDay 2022 last week where four new products were introduced to the public. SparkCharge made a name for itself with its unique modular portable EV fast charging solution. A few years into their journey, they took the Roadie 2 into the Shark Tank to swim with the big dogs of the investment world and landed a staggering $1 million investment from technologist and investor Mark Cuban and inventor and entrepreneur Lori Grenier.

Disclaimer: SparkCharge paid for travel and accommodations for the author to attend this event.

The SparkCharge Roadie v2 charging a Mustang Mach E. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The Roadie v3

At SparkDay 2022, CEO Joshua Aviv took to the stage to take the wraps off the next generation of products from SparkCharge — the Roadie v3. This new iteration of the Roadie supersizes the SparkCharge proposition with a massive new unit that packs a 75 kWh battery (56-58 kWh usable). The larger, more powerful Roadie v3 boosts the power output up to an impressive 90kW, meaning it can push out all of its stored energy in around 45 minutes (depending on the charging curve of the vehicle). The max charging speed can actually be upgraded to 125 kW, if needed.

SparkCharge’s Roadie v3 battery pack and charger. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The original Roadie was a perfect solution for towing companies to add on to their tow trucks. The 3.5 kWh blocks were able to be stacked for a maximum total capacity of 14 kWh. That was intended to give owners with fully depleted batteries enough charge to get to a high speed power station. Think about it as the equivalent of bringing a few gallons of gas to a stranded motorist. SparkCharge will continue to sell the Roadie v2 for exactly these type of applications, but the Roadie v3 brings the system to a whole new level, introducing an extremely capable new platform that opens up a host of new applications.

Its higher capacity necessarily comes in a much larger, heavier package. While the Roadie v2’s battery packs weighed in at 200 pounds each, the battery pack for the v3 weighs in at a staggering 1,600 pounds and for good reason. These larger units are intended to be use in a wide range of applications from temporary to permanent installations, depending on the need. One of the core functions of the Roadie v3 is as the foundation for SparkCharge’s semi-permanent off-grid fast charging station, the Roadie v3 Hybrid.

The Roadie v3 Hybrid

The Roadie v3 Hybrid takes the energy storage and fast charging capabilities of the Roadie v3 and builds them into a full blown stationary DC fast charging station. These stations take the DC energy stored in the battery bank and crank it directly into the vehicle, delivering up to 250 miles of range per fully charged Roadie v3 Hybrid battery pack. These stations run completely off the grid and as such, can be installed in as little as 48 hours. Check out these specs:

  • 70 kWh battery (56-58 kWh usable), expandable to meet customer needs
  • Charging output of 90kW, expandable up to 125kW
  • Can deliver up to 250 miles of range per full charge
  • 100% grid free EV charging
  • Uses same battery tech as the Roadie v3
  • No trenching or construction required
  • Can he installed in 48 hours or less
  • Powered by the Currently mobile charging network

SparkCharge’s Roadie v3 Hybrid delivering a charge to a Porsche Taycan at SparkDay 2022. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

This capability makes these stations perfect for a wide range of applications that just aren’t great fits for full blown, grid-connected DC fast charging stations. Fleet operators know vehicles, but this world of recharging, fast charging, demand charges, and overnight staggered charging is a completely new world for them. Buying vehicles is easy, but the lead time to engineer, procure, permit, and install a full stable of charging stations can take 18 months or longer.

SparkCharge’s Roadie v3 Hybrid enables fleet operators to quickly install a charging station to recharge a single vehicle pilot, a fleet of vehicles, and to trial new charging locations without being locked in to the sizable investments in infrastructure that come with a grid-tied DC fast charging station. Ford recently told all Ford dealerships to decide if they want to sell electric vehicles in the future or not. Dealerships opting to sell EVs in the future must commit to installing two DC fast charging stations and a level 2 station, at an estimated cost of around $900,000.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The ability to install a SparkCharge fast charging station at a fraction of the cost (sub $100k) without the grid connection, permitting, lengthy regulatory delays, or the need to lock in a permanent location is a lucrative proposition. Looking beyond the Ford use case, fleets like FedEx, USPS, UPS, DHL, Bob’s Plumbing, and more are looking at the very same benefits. Why drop hundreds of thousands of dollars per fast charging station when you’re not even sure the future is electric? When you’re not sure you’re putting them in the best location? When you didn’t plan ahead and need to get some fast chargers installed ASAP. The list goes on an on but it’s clear the flexibility the Roadie v3 Hybrid brings to the party opens up a wide range of new possibilities.

The cost of these stations was perhaps the top question, as they effectively bring together a massive battery bank, battery management system, DC fast charger, and a mobile charging service. How could that be affordable? The folks at SparkCharge have been hard at work to bring together the best of both worlds to make these system cost competitive. They do this by charging up battery packs at night or whenever off peak power is available and selling that back to EV drivers at more traditional daytime fast charging rates. That translates to somewhere in the fifty to sixty cent per kilowatt-hour range, according to SparkCharge CFO David Piperno.

SparkCharge CEO Joshua Aviv explaining the new product lineup to SparkDay 2022 attendees. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Given the wide range of local electricity pricing, tiered strategies, utility variances, energy mixes, and site host considerations, real-world pricing is likely to have a much wider range of variance. Regardless, it is great to see SparkCharge’s EV charging service enabling a ton of new flexibility into a challenging DC fast charging market. Lowering the up front capital cost of the station alone is sure to have a positive effect on pricing in the DC fast charging space.

By now, you’re probably wondering how these magical battery-powered fast charging stations get charged in the first place and stay charged after they’re used. To enable rapid deployments, SparkCharge plans to use its Currently mobile charging solution to bring power to the stations. SparkCharge’s Currently is a fleet of vans equipped with Roadie v3s that bring a ton of energy storage and the ability to fast charge to EV drivers. This is a great solution for EV drivers who don’t have charging stations at home, on the go charging, and is sure to be a key enabler of the EV revolution as more drivers opt to drive electric.

The Roadie v3 and Roadie v3 Hybrid can also be connected to a grid connection, enabling them to pull a steady charge from the grid absorbing the sharp usage peaks and the demand charges they incur. This smooths out the consumption curve for utilities and reduces or eliminates the need to upgrade transformers and ensure that all upstream grid equipment can support DC fast chargers that aren’t supported by a bank of local energy storage.

At SparkDay 2022, SparkCharge laid the foundation for station hosts, fleet managers, and entrepreneurs to use the Roadie v3 and v3 Hybrid to install temporary to permanent off-grid DC fast charging stations without the delays, hassle, and expense of permitting, grid connections, and grid upgrades. SparkCharge’s Currently mobile charging service is also kicking into high gear, with new, significant upgrades that make it a real, affordable option for mobile EV charging.

At SparkDay, SparkCharge’s Ryan Bradley said, “our goal is to democratize access to electric vehicles,” and by all accounts, they are well on their way to accomplishing that.

 
 
 
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Written By

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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