CleanTechnica headed south to Los Angeles this week to the Curbivore conference to meet with Tiya Gordon from the curbside EV charging innovators at itselectric. While many of us binged shows good and bad on Netflix over the pandemic, Tiya was hard at work building out a disruptive new EV charging network company. itselectric has developed a low cost, high quality curbside EV chargers with a slick business model that puts money into the pockets of building owners and an innovative product that parks all the EV charging hardware safely by the electric panel.
Tiya is a New Yorker and has been able to live for most of her life without owning or driving a car. When the pandemic hit, she was forced to find other solutions to safely get her loved ones to all of their appointments.
So she bought a car. Being environmentally aware and EV-curious, she leaned into the EV space and ended up in a Hyundai Ioniq 5. On a map out in an app, EV charging seems straightforward, but in the real world, it can get complicated. That’s all the more true in New York City where people are packed into tall buildings like sardines, streets feel like a war zone and parking spots are cherished more than Yankees season tickets.
So it was that Tiya found herself in a position where she was desperately in search of a solution but none existed. She’s fiercely opposed to accepting things because that’s how they have always been and just like that, itselectric was born.
After doing some research, the team at itselectric settled on a curbside charging model. On the surface, the charging pedestal little more than a stainless steel post with a small EV charging adapter on one side. Seeing the mess of cables at most public EV chargers, they opted for a European style solution that does away with cables on the charger. For a curbside solution, cables could become a trip hazard and make a mess of public space.
Early users of itselectric will get a charging cable upon signing up and Tiya believes EV manufacturers in the US will follow the European model and begin providing cables with the car in the future. Even if that doesn’t pan out, the cost of cables is relatively minor when you don’t have to install a public EV charging station yourself as the customer.
To power the stations, itselectric will partner with building owners to run a line under the curb to tap into their electrical system. Finding capacity for an extra EV charger or two for a single building is much easier than running a completely new circuit from the local utility.
The incentive for building owners to partner with itselectric is twofold. Right out of the gate, it provides a service to tenants of their building as well as the rest of neighborhood. With mandates at the city level and for building owners to provide EV charging to tenants, this helps them tick off the EV charging box with minimal effort.
The second incentive is financial. itselectric has a revenue sharing model that provides a cut of the proceeds back to building owners, turning the necessity to provide charging into an extra bit of cash in their pockets. A conservative estimate from itselectric is that building owner hosts will make about $1,200 a year from a single station with minimal utilization though actual revenue will vary based on actual usage.
The solution requires a single 4 inch trench in the concrete to connect the building’s power to the curbside pedestal. All of the EV charging hardware lives in the building by the electric panel, meaning the pedestal on the curb is a little more than a dumb outlet for the customer to plug into. Getting help from cities to cut into their precious sidewalks will help here and they are incentivized to expedite permitting as they also have EV charging density targets to hit.
Installing the power electronics by the electric panel mitigates the cost of any damage to the pedestal on the curb from a vehicle and corrosion from the elements, keeping the cost to repair or replace one of these to a minimum in the event it is damaged. The minimalist profile also keeps the customer facing solution nice and simple, delivering value in the form of electrons to the car with the smallest footprint on the street.
itselectric has a number of pilots in the works, all of which will be installed in areas with high densities of EV drivers. They’re using publicly available data to determine where EV drivers live and where those vehicles are registered and are logically installing stations in those areas first. They also have solicited interest from EV drivers to help hone in on hot spots. They plan to install 6 to 12 chargers in the early pilots with plans to expand after gathering the learnings from the early pilots.
As a special bonus, the itselectric solution is manufactured right here in the US. They partnered with an engineer to develop their EV charging hardware and have already secured a manufacturer in Connecticut to manufacture the stainless steel pedestals. Thanks to the EV charging components of the Inflation Reduction Act, states have developed their own plans National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plans. Curbside charging solutions have to become part of the picture for dense urban areas, making the domestically produced solution from itselectric an obvious choice.
This morning, itselectric announced the successful close of a $2.2M pre-seed round to provide curbside EV charging specifically built for cities. itselectric’s first funding round (congrats!) was led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and will allow them to focus on the deployment of pilot programs in cities across the U.S in 2023. There are currently around 130,000 electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S. but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, over 600,000 Level 2 charging stations are needed to
support the estimated 15 million EVs projected to be on the road by 2030.
“itselectric embraces the challenge of curbside charging with our design and community centered approach that disrupts the status-quo,” itselectric COO and co-founder Tiya Gordon said in the funding announcement. “Our solution is a sleek, low-profile curbside charger that provides revenue sharing for property owners, plentiful access to EV drivers, and has virtually no impact on municipal budgets.”
To many of us living, eating, and breathing clean tech, the electric vehicle industry and the broader clean tech revolution can feel like a mature industry, but in reality it’s still early days. As we get into the nitty-gritty of identifying and installing solutions in individual homes, buildings, cities and countries around the world, we realize that there is still a ton of need for innovation and new products to fill gaps we previously didn’t know existed.
itselectric is a great example of how a motivated, intelligent, driven woman looking to live her life more sustainably all too quickly found that the solutions needed for her simply did not exist. Unlike most of us though, Tiya took it on herself to build a team and a product that met that need and is now actively rolling that solution out to the masses for all of us to benefit.
The future is electric.
The future is now.
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