“Our product is the key to a decentralized energy future”

London-based startup ZipCharge, founded a year ago, is working on an EV charging solution it says could boost EV adoption not just in the West, but in a country like India. , where electric vehicles are a nascent industry. The brainchild of Richie Sibal and Jonathan Carrier, ZipCharge is developing what it says is the world’s first smart portable charger – dubbed “Go”.

In exclusive interaction with Professional coach, Carrier spoke about the origins of the company. “We have accumulated a lot of very useful experience over the last 12 months, from the technical challenges that must be overcome to manufacture a product like the Go portable charger, to discovering how to make it work in various conditions. operation.We design the charger to allow it to operate from minus 10 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius safely and reliably.No matter where you are in the world, someone will use it.

During their initial research, ZipCharge found that around 40-50% of customers are unable to install a home charger for EVs. Then there is another category of electric vehicle users who have home charging but see benefits in having flexible charging in addition to their fixed charging. Plus, the Go portable charger is designed to use solar energy to power your home. “In fact, it’s a portable energy storage device that has a multitude of use cases, not just for charging an electric vehicle,” says Carrier.

Starting problems
In Carrier’s opinion, he says that, like any other player, the geopolitical situation as well as the restrictions related to Covid-19 have had an impact on the company’s plans. “We are still facing some of the major headwind issues facing the auto industry that relate to the supply chain. It’s mostly semiconductors and connectors, and that’s quite a challenge for a start-up business where you don’t necessarily have the track record and longevity of the business or clear revenue streams to enable leveraging of capabilities and also to secure the kind of mandatory supply contracts.”

He mentioned challenges, among others, including tech-business issues as well as being ready to seize opportunities and growth. It was in early March 2022 that the startup won the British Engineering Excellence Award for R&D Project of the Year for its R&D program and for subjecting the portable electric vehicle charger to meticulous car development processes and testing. automotive industry standard. The company expects it to be ready for the market in early 2023.

recharge it
Explaining the context of the Go charger use case, Carrier says, “When you have an electric vehicle, you don’t wait for the battery to reach zero before charging it to 100%. We know from talking with EV users and studies in the public domain that EV users charge a little often. The behavioral model is to keep recharging each day as you need it and increase your mileage (range).

As an example, he cites the case of countries like the UK, Europe, North America and even China as well, where the average daily mileage driven by someone, not only to get to work but also in his car, is somewhere between tens at 27-28km. Even in the United States, the average mileage is around 42 km. So it’s really about meeting your daily needs and therefore more like a power bank that people use for their smartphones. You can also take the charger with you on long trips.

The portable charger will be available in 4kW and 8kW, which depending on the vehicle model can provide a range of 32km to 64km. Depending on market response, a 6 kW battery is also under consideration. In terms of price, the startup says owning a portable charger will be equal or cheaper than setting up a wall-charging setup at home.

Explaining its many benefits, Carrier said: “ZipCharge also offers the flexibility for use on vacations on the one hand and even by corporate fleets that need to go electric. Many service fleets will move and visit customers’ homes during the day where they can use our charger to be able to charge the vehicle when they are doing other things.

Speaking of developments in battery technology, Carrier explains that from a ZipCharge perspective, there are two outcomes. “Either we keep the same size and add more power, or we make it smaller and lighter. By choosing the latter, our product has longevity. It is not something that is a stopgap solution because people still need portable access to electricity,” he said.

When it comes to liquid cooling, Carrier says his business isn’t into air-cooled batteries like some global companies. Citing an example, he says the Nissan Leaf doesn’t have liquid cooling, and that’s because it recognized the fact that in order to reduce vehicle weight and maximize efficiency, you had to eliminate things that include like liquid cooling. ZipCharge, he says, employing similar techniques and trying to manage cooling in the most efficient way that minimizes weight and complexity and therefore costs. As he says, “At the end of the day, we’re trying to produce something that’s accessible in terms of batteries. This means we have to think smart about how we develop and design the Go charger, but it makes the technical challenge harder. So it needs deep technical development, because we need to be able to make sure it works well and safely. »

This conversation is taking place at a time when there have been several battery fires in India and therefore the issue of safety not only for EV users in India but also globally is relevant. Carrier provides statistics that suggest EVs have had far fewer on-track thermal incidents compared to internal combustion engine vehicles and that’s because EVs meet very strict standards, including batteries. For now, ZipCharge aims to have adequate development and testing time to ensure a safe and reliable product.

The feature was published in the May 1, 2022 issue of Autocar Professional.





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