ChargePoint invests in commercial charging for buses, delivery vans, taxis


2014 BMW i3 REx fast-charging at Chargepoint site, June 2016  [photo: Tom Moloughney]

2014 BMW i3 REx fast-charging at Chargepoint site, June 2016 [photo: Tom Moloughney]

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After opposing the settlement over diesel emissions cheating that led VW to spend $2 billion building out a nationwide network of fast chargers, and suing one of Electrify America's suppliers for patent infringement, ChargePoint, the last of the original charging-network providers for electric cars, is moving to focus on commercial charging applications.

On Thursday, the company announced it is acquiring Kisensum, an energy management software company that works with power grids to determine when to shift loads among the grid, solar, and batteries. 

Simon Lonsdale, ChargePoint's chief strategy officer, says the move will allow ChargePoint to focus on charging for commercial fleets such as buses and delivery trucks, and eventually to move toward charging for fleets of electric taxis and autonomous cars.

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The large batteries in buses demand huge amounts of power but have only a short time to charge when the buses are out of service. Each one uses the power of a Walgreens drug store as it charges, Lonsdale says.

With many buses charging simultaneously, managing the load on the grid is critical.

Electric buses are already spreading rapidly, especially in cities in Europe where diesels have been banned from city centers, and electric delivery trucks will follow quickly behind, he says.

CHECK OUT: EVgo, ChargePoint annual reports show growth in electric-car charging

He notes that unlike consumers, fleets automatically adopt the lowest cost transportation solution, which will be electric going forward. He expects taxis to follow after delivery trucks in switching to electric power, but says that lessons on managing charging power loads, routes, and downtime with delivery trucks may be necessary before charging taxi fleets can be managed effectively. 

Beyond that, autonomous taxis will save consumers money on buying personal cars as well as lower prices dramatically on taxi rides. According to a study by Lyft, autonomous taxis could cut the price of a ride by 90 percent and open up mobility to millions of people around the world who can't afford it today.

In the meantime, 80 percent of charging for private electric cars still will be done at home, he says.

 
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