Image courtesy of Gravity

Are These EV Charging “Trees” A Solution For Curbside Charging?

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Battery prices are coming down. Electric cars are getting more competitive. EV options are growing rapidly. EV fast charging is even quite easy on road trips in most places now. However, there’s one big barrier that I do still find a bit concerning — regular, reliable charging for people without a place to park and charge at home. Sure, workplace charging might be able to fill in that gap, but you still need your workplace to offer that, and what if you change jobs? In big cities especially, what’s really needed is good curbside charging.

One company that’s been working on that in New York is Gravity. The startup reports that it “just opened the fastest charging site in America,” but more importantly, it’s developed an innovative solution for curbside charging. That is “a new universal on-street mounting and cable system, dubbed ‘DEAP Trees,’ for its 200kW and 500kW Distributed Energy Access Points (DEAPs).”

Photo Credit: Gravity
Photo Credit: Gravity

I’m not going to lie — it’s really just the visualizations that caught my attention. It’s an interesting concept. Clearly, it helps to keep charging cables out of the paths of pedestrians and bicyclists, which should improve safety and minimize clutter associated with urban charging stations. On the other hand, I worry a little bit about these falling down or being knocked down. But maybe that worry is unwarranted.

Here’s a little more on the design from Gravity: “Gravity’s engineers in collaboration with globally renowned design firm, Rangr Studio, took up the challenge of solving all the frictions in curbside charging today. Each Gravity universal DEAP Tree has a hinged swing arm holding a cable that pivots down when charging begins, allowing it to reach the port of every make and model. When charging is completed, the arm raises automatically and the EV connector seamlessly latches back onto the pole and out of sight. The device is operable with minimal effort and avoids the long cables (or requirement for a user-supplied cable) common to other systems—preventing tripping hazards, obstacles to accessibility and potential vandalism.”

Again, these are fast chargers — very fast chargers. “DEAP Trees require no utility upgrades to bring high-speed charging to the curbside capable of providing 200 miles of range in either 13 minutes (200kW) or 5 minutes (500kW)—accommodating multiple charging sessions per space each hour. This is orders of magnitude faster than the 8-10 hours required for Level 2 curbside chargers, like those currently deployed in cities like New York through early pilot programs and several times the capacity of Tesla’s common 72kW or 150kW Superchargers.” I’m not sure how it is that they ” require no utility upgrades.” That confuses me a bit as an absolute statement.

Nonetheless, I find the system highly appealing and intriguing. Here are a summary bullet list on DEAP trees’ key features:

  • Developed for Gravity’s 200kW and 500kW DEAPs capable of fully charging an EV in 5 to 13 minutes. All systems deliver 1000V.

  • Retractor-less cable management capable of reaching charging ports on any EV make or model

  • Bidirectional-ready, providing for a host of grid resiliency benefits and new revenue streams for cities

  • No tripping hazards, designed to prevent vandalism or damage from misuse

  • Minimal visual profile that won’t clutter streets

  • Suitable for both metered and residential parking areas

  • Designed to accommodate other smart city technologies, such as traffic safety cameras, colored LED street and curbside lighting, 5G, public Wi-Fi, air quality sensors and integrated audio/video for public communication

“Right now, American cities are choosing the curbside charging that drivers will use for decades to come. Unfortunately, many are looking to obsolete overnight Level 2 charging with cables that clutter sidewalks and that don’t fit the needs of urban EV drivers. EV drivers require and deserve so much better. We took up the challenge of making every aspect of the on-street charging experience faster and better and can’t wait to deploy our new DEAP Trees by the thousands. With even partial adoption by American cities, this product alone could quickly become the largest fast charging network in America, eclipsing even the Supercharger network,” said Moshe Cohen, Founder and CEO of Gravity. Inc.

Those are some grand statements. And, personally, I’m not sure I see a big problem with Level 2 charging for curbside charging, especially when it’s in with urban residential areas. Though, that’s not to say urban superfast charging isn’t very helpful and needed as well.

What do you think?

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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