Ubitricity: What If You Could Charge Your EV Just About Anywhere?

As the adoption rate of electric automobiles picks up and the ne2rk of quick-charge stations gets developed out, the conversation about proprietary specifications versus open ne2rks turns into louder. Companies like Tesla do their very own issue, constructing out ultra quick chargers with the prospect of cost-free electrical energy and swappable batteries.  NRG’s EVGo and ChargePoint set up their own proprietary ne2rks, even though organizations such as Greenlots – and significantly of Europe – argue for open standards.  Sooner or later on, this situation close to the quickly charging stations, and who has entry to what, will get settled.

In the meantime, Ubitricity – a tiny company in Germany – is pioneering a novel and totally different technique: letting the (much more patient) EV owner charge up just about anywhere. Ubitricity’s idea is that many EV owners won’t necessarily need to charge in thirty minutes, because most of the time their cars are stationary anyway. So why not develop an atmosphere exactly where they can charge up at a lot of diverse shops, taking the metering software and charging infrastructure with them?


Knut Hechtfischer, who co-founded the business with Frank Pawlitschek, started his professional life as an anti-trust lawyer, then moved into transactional law and renewables.  That transactional DNA underlies Ubitricity’s whole philosophy.  Hechtfischer remarks,

Ubitricity is designed to decrease transaction charges.  The technology we are making use of is created to reduce the difficulty of transactional expenses, and it can be introduced inside the existing legal framework.

He asserts that he is coming at the opportunity from a entirely different perspective than the standard engineers he has met.

Engineers say ‘Why don’t you do the way we do it and have often carried out it?’  We say, ‘because we developed it to fit into the current legal problem.  It is not a technical dilemma, it’s a commercial dilemma.  It’s a query of how to make charging commercially viable, how to deal with capex, opex, and nonetheless not overload the ready likely EV driving consumer with also considerably financial burden.’

How do you make a services ubiquitously accessible right now? Precisely. By attaching it to a mobile gadget that you carry along. In most situations these days, it’s your smart mobile phone. But the business and technical logic can be utilized to entry other things or companies, as well. ’

Image: Ubitricity

Image: Ubitricity

In his view, it happens with automobile sharing it can also take place with plug sharing. In this model, the EV driver may possibly use a modified common socket at home to charge, then commute to perform, access one more socket, and charge there as well. With the Ubitricity metering program, the workplace wouldn’t have to shell out to charge up somebody’s car.

There are 2 techniques to do it: the effortless way to do it is to merely reimburse the individual exactly where you’ve charged with the support of a third party, being us.  And if you have all the equipment and regulatory prerequisites in place you can also net it from the previously present meter and it disappears from meter of the employer and no reimbursement is essential.

In Hechtfischer’s view, the construct-out of all these independent charging stations is somewhat needless (except if you are really in require of a quick charge – which most men and women are not) considering that the electrical energy infrastructure is already extant and cars are stationary for most of their existence.

Cars are only in one location or one more at a level in time, so why build 2 meters, 2 techniques? The car is both here or there.  The supply of electrical energy is constantly attached to a meter in the power globe. The paradigm shift right here is driven by the fact that the consumer becomes mobile.  The mobile meter fits into the IT planet really smoothly with 1 exception, when the meter is tied to one grid and the mobile meter could present up in another grid. Or 2, or 5.  So we established a virtual power grid –which makes it possible for us to add a new service layer. The meter moves with you…you can provide with your electrical power. It’s your electricity and your meter…we do not have to have intelligence in stationary gear, we only need to have switchable and identifiable sockets.

Hechtfischer draws an analogy to the mobile cellphone ne2rk,

We had to deal with the dilemma of a mobile meter in numerous grids.  It is like using SIM cards within different ne2rks. There, Mobile Virtual Ne2rk Operators integrate a variety of ne2rks into 1 virtual ne2rk, therefore enabling the scalable nationwide services.”

Hechtfischer notes that while there is a want to generate the switchable and identifiable sockets, and the mobile meter, this is relatively inexpensive in comparison with the establishment of cost-free-standing charging stations.  Ubitricity also has an additional benefit in their companion, Tyco Electronics (TE Connectivity).

In 2014 we are extensively testing in Europe and with Tyco Electronics we will also begin piloting on the West Coast, to spread the idea with a total of 150-200 EVs (author’s note – 50 of those will be on the West Coast). By end of Q1 2015, the method will be commercially obtainable starting in Europe, presented with strategic partners like TE connectivity, delivering mobile chargers and contracts with the utility as partners to distribute the support.

The goal is to function with Tyco and use volumes to drive down charges. Ubitricity thinks a single alternative to do this is to function with municipal utilities to build out a charging ne2rk merely by retrofitting their light poles.

We estimate that at least a single % of Germany’s light poles meet our specifications. That would be a total of 100,000 – it is an incredibly efficient way to do this.  We could substitute a 10,000 Euro charger (including the digging and rewiring) with a 300 Euro retrofit socket in a light pole, delivering 3.6 kW without costing the municipality.

Hechtfischer also addresses the perspective that some drivers will want to charge truly rapidly and have that convenience.  In actuality, he says, most drivers will not want it.

We believe in the merchandise room you have to seem specifically what the price of time of the person charging is. That’s what determines the willingness to shell out for the service. Tesla drivers might want fast charging.  Other people might want 3-phase and 10- kWh.  For us it all comes down to expense of metering, and the timing as to when you want to charge…The sweet spot is not the man or woman who only expenses at house or at the workplace but the commuter who commutes between A and B, obtaining to spend at one spot for electrical consumption – the office and then at residence. The system works genuinely properly for folks residing in condos with joint garages where you are not accessing your very own meter. The idea also performs effectively with EVs that are in fleet automobiles charging at residence.”

In the latter situation, you can charge up your fleet vehicle at residence and the employer will get the bill.

The model – mobile electric metering – is radical and fully different, and suggests that there might be use cases that have barely been thought of but.  Hechtfischer thinks that the possible could be actually huge.

This opens a complete new universe of likely services.  Inside someone else’s premises, you can provide a buyer with whatever electrical energy you want and you are truly within the world wide web of vitality of issues.

He muses with what you may well be capable to do in terms of integrating solar and the mobile storage within the car.

In Germany it is legally attainable to tie it right to the PV rooftop.  You can keep your electricity in your EV that’s not even linked to the house but that is at perform.  This allows distributed storage in a new matter.  It’s virtual net metering with an ultra efficient metering method.

He thinks there is also a large possibility with retail electrical power supply. At the moment, competitive retail power suppliers offer you electrical energy to a fixed spot – the customer’s meter.  What if they offered it to the EV’s mobile meter as effectively?

Ubitricity gives data to current electrical suppliers to enable them to go from fixed line electrical power to mobile electrical power.  You as buyer could turn to a utility who would like to provide support and they could offer you the hardware, a twelve or 24 month electricity subscription with mobile electric device, like in the mobile mobile phone globe.  They could brand the device, and even decide on the colour.

In the end, Hechtfischer expects that this notion of mobile meters and virtual grid can tie smoothly into the actual power grid and provide a useful services.  With the car continuously linked to the grid when not on the street, it could be programmed with an algorithm to know when to get power from – and supply back to – the energy grid.

Hechtfischer remarks,

It comes down to the transaction expense of undertaking that: the integration of controllable load in the system. The ne2rk has been made to provide grid stability at lowest achievable transaction costs. It can support to integrate EVs and the electrical power grid. But if you do not meter, you cannot optimize.  If you can not monetize, you can not incentivize.  So we had to believe of a mechanism to let you to mechanize and monetize and incentivize…There will be interfaces of data, such as the state of charge of the battery, and aggregated with a cloud-based services. To have an optimization on 10,000 or 25,000 EVs might be technically feasible.  Nevertheless, nowadays the individual contribution is not massive adequate to cover the transaction expense of each motor vehicle.  It is too tiny due to the fact you have to connect the auto at residence with that infrastructure and then you have to do it at perform once again.

That is sometime in the potential.  In the meantime, Ubitricity is focusing on the difficulties of the current company model, the outcomes of the recent pilots, and exactly where this could go.

The method functions. We have about 25 active autos on the method.  The last prototype generation is coming in a couple of months with launch of the method early following year. Our key finding is that people prefer to plug in at property and at work, regardless of the depth of charge to be much more flexible and to maximize e-mileage. The highest consumer price is, as expected, e-commuters that often commute in between property and work and have a really good user encounter by maximizing e-mileage…By the finish of 2015, we want to serve thirty,000 consumers in Germany.

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