New York EV charging upstart itselectric installed the first three of its urban curbside EV chargers in Brooklyn within the Brooklyn Army Terminal at a bank building on city property that sat unused for years.
itselectric’s mission is to bring its compact curbside chargers into dense urban areas like Brooklyn and other cities across the country. We initially met Tiya Gordon from itselectric at the Curbivore conference in Los Angeles, California and were excited to reconnect with them in New York for the official unveiling of their first pilot.
This first pilot installation of three charging units will be followed by another installation at the nearby Steiner Studios lot in the coming days, with both pilot sites helping the company prove out the operation and financials of their unique urban charging scheme. itselectric’s innovative charging system design puts the electric vehicle charging hardware inside the building with only a small pedestal out on the curb to lets EV drivers plug in with their own cable, provided by itselectric.
Asking EV drivers to bring their own cable with them in the frunk, trunk, or backseat will require a culture change, but its one Tiya and New York City officials see as necessary. The prospect of adding bulky EV charging hardware and a mess of cables onto the already cluttered curbs of New York City and similar dense urban areas poses a number of challenges that are all but eliminated with an elegant system like the one developed by itselectric.
We spoke with Tiya at the ribbon cutting and she said that the cable they’re currently using is larger than necessary and she hopes to address this with a thinner cable for their customers in the near future. Its one of many improvements the itselectric team is working on as they move into their first pilot installations with an eye towards ramping to full scale operations as an EVSE provider and network operator in the future.
The pilot installation marks the first functional itselectric curbside charging pedestals being installed into the ground. It is currently being used in a closed pilot and the team is already looking to expand beyond the initial group of EV drivers. The charging hardware for the pilot is installed inside the nearby building to keep them protected from vandalism and the elements. Production hardware will come in enclosures that aren’t see through.
A Team Effort
The itselectric team is doing the work of designing chargers, building products, coordinating manufacturing, and lining up all the ducks to put copper into the ground but their work seems to have catalyzed a full blown movement. At the ribbon cutting event, representatives from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and the New York City Department of Transportation were on hand to share how they are all on board with the form factor and working to accelerate the integration of more charging pedestals in New York City.
Cities like New York are faced with decarbonization, zero emission transportation, and EV charger installation targets that they don’t necessarily know how they’re going to achieve with currently available options. itselectric introducing a solution that enables a seamless, straightforward installation of an EV charger with integration to the adjacent building with a curbside pedestal out front is a huge milestone that pushes that conversation forward in a meaningful way. Eliminating the cables is another huge benefit that many cities are looking for from charging solutions.
Comments from a speaker from the New York City Department of Transportation made it clear that he is excited about the fact that the itselectric solution is cable-less. He said he believes that a cable-less solution is what is needed to bring EV charging into the city as it keeps the solution’s footprint compact, minimizing the space it takes up on the curb.
In cities, every square inch of real estate is valuable whether its living space, curb space for EV chargers or pedestals and any cables or dongles they might have hanging off of them. Density is key and itselectric’s decision to move the EV charging hardware into the building and eliminating the cables from their curbside charging posts supports that need in a meaningful way.
The Second Pilot
With so much support from local government leaders behind them, itselectric is moving quickly to vet its plans, technology, and hardware with a handful of pilots launching almost one on top of the other. Steiner Studios is hosting the second location for the initial pilot for the itselectric solution with another set of chargers that is already actively being used by early testers. For the uninitiated, Steiner Studios is the largest TV and film studio in the Northeast and has hosted the filming of numerous blockbusters including Boardwalk Empire and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
We spoke to founder and Chairman Doug Steiner about pilot and he shared that he is excited to install itselectric EV chargers at his studio properties because it’s the right thing to do and it helps support the adoption of electric vehicles within his business. The EV chargers are a natural complement to the work he has been doing to clean up the footprint of his studios, some of which made financial sense and others that didn’t. They have been installing green roofs on studio buildings for years and adding massive solar installations wherever possible because they make good financial sense and they’re good for the planet.
He said that there isn’t a financial case to be made for the chargers yet, but that’s the point of a pilot. Take the first step and see what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be tweaked in order to scale further. Steiner’s willingness to take the first step of installing a set of itselectric chargers as a pilot highlights the power of a single decision to take the next logical step. The entire path forward doesn’t have to be clear to support taking one step. Take action and reassess afterwards.
This could be a single homeowner getting an electric car. A single customer asking about nearby EV charging. A single business owner adding solar to their roof. Steiner has continued to take one step after another over the years and you can tell that the processes has shaped him and emboldened him to take on bigger, more meaningful actions now than in the past.
The Big Picture
Rallying the troops to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and infrastructure is attracting the innovators in the legacy automotive industry and early on, itselectric caught the eye of Hyundai’s innovative team at CRADLE. Hyundai CRADLE is tasked with reaching out beyond the solutions at Hyundai to identify potential partners that complement the work at the parent company.
We spoke with a few of their folks at the event and learned that Hyundai’s team is excited about the work happening in the home as part of Hyundai Home and is constantly working to make it easier for their customers to integrate an EV to their lives. They see itselectric as a way to understand the behavior and needs of urban EV drivers and as a potential solution they can work with in the future.
“The outcomes of this project will be thoughtfully applied to properly expand charging options for pending customers and improving the overall EV ownership experience,” Hyundai Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai CRADLE Henry Chung said at the ribbon cutting event.
When we met with Tiya Gordon on the shaded streets of downtown Los Angeles, it was clear she had a solid product, had built the right team, and had a solid plan but she was alone. Seeing her and CEO Nathan King in New York amongst the itselectric team with their expansive network of business and city supporters was transformative. Their passion for the product and their cause overflowed into the event.
Their future is by no means certain but they have managed to build a solid product with a compelling value proposition that sets them apart from the competition in meaningful ways. They built on their desire to charge their electric vehicle in a dense New York City neighborhood and have brought on a legion of supporters to carry them forward.
Together, they are building the future we all want and need, one charging post at a time.
Head over to the official itselectric website or Twitter feed for more information about what they’re doing as it happens or if you’re interested in getting one of their chargers in your neighborhood, jump on their waitlist.
Disclaimer: itselectric paid for the author’s travel to attend this event.
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