As the founder of EV Safe Charge, Caradoc Ehrenhalt is a big believer in electric vehicles.
So much so that he started a downtown-based company to provide electric charging stations, first to residential and then to commercial buildings.
And now he’s turning around again and entering Ziggy, mobile charging stations with a battery on wheels.
After all, one of the barriers to mass electric vehicle adoption is overcharging, or the worry that a vehicle will run out of power before it reaches the charging station.
Ziggy will stand about 6 feet tall and operate on four independent wheels, and cameras on all four sides. The mobile robot uses all-wheel steering to ensure it can get up and down on ramps, maneuver over speed bumps and turn tight corners.
“The weight is centered at the bottom with the battery on the bottom, so it’s very stable,” Ehrenhalt explained.
How it works is very simple: a driver uses an app to get Ziggy into their car or to reserve space for their vehicle. Ziggy shows up, the driver plugs in and can then go to work, shopping, the gym or anywhere else and will be notified when charging is complete. When the customer returns to their car, they will unplug the Ziggy, which will then return to their home base to charge or be picked up and taken offsite.
A driver will pay every time Ziggy is used at a price set by the site owner. A site may also offer a service for free.
“Some people want to subsidize the use of Ziggy and cover partial charging costs for employees, and so on,” Ehrenhalt said. “We will help guide sites every step of the way as they determine how they want to implement and use Ziggy.”
The Ziggy Functional Demonstrator robot has been built and is entering the next phase as it nears the construction phase, Ehrenhalt said.
He said the idea is to make them in the areas where they will work. They hope to unite in late 2023 or early 2024.
Some customers have already placed orders for Ziggy’s for their properties, including the Holiday Inn Express in Redwood City; mixed-use development at Opera Plaza, San Francisco; and The William Vale, a luxury hotel in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
David Lemond, general manager of the Brooklyn hotel, said its guests and neighbors would benefit from the technology. “Ziggy is perfect for the growing demand for easy charging solutions,” Lemond said in a statement.
EV Safe Charge still offers charging stations to residential and commercial customers.
Its business model with Ziggy, however, is to lease the robots to parking lots and garages, event venues, restaurants and hotels, which will then decide who will have access to use the units.
“For example a company may want to have some Ziggy units only for employees,” Ehrenhalt said. “Sites will also decide how they want to allow access, and in most cases this will be done through an app.”
He added that as battery technology improves, the company can more easily recycle existing batteries and replace them with newer versions.
Ziggy takes the entire charging experience from capital expenditures to operating expenses because the parking garage doesn’t have to spend any money on the charging infrastructure, Ehrenhalt continued.
“It’s very exciting for sites where they now have monthly fees going forward and they don’t have a huge cash outlay in the beginning,” he said.
EV Safe Charge has raised nearly $1.5 million in private financing since being founded by Ehrenhalt in 2016. It is financed from angel investors, including Mountain View-based Sand Hills Angels.
Sand Hills Angels board member Drew Freeman said the firm invested in EV SafeCharge because it believed the acceleration in electric vehicle adoption would result in a growing shortage of fixed-charging capability.
Freeman said the cost of retrofitting existing parking structures for EVs can be cost-prohibitive for operators and landlords, and installing enough fixed-charging capacity in every parking lot to meet demand is inefficient. Will happen.
“Ehrenhalt and EV Safe Charge had the vision and vision to create a simple and elegant solution that we believe will unlock the potential of the EV market,” Freeman said in a statement.
“At EV SafeCharge, we are thrilled to have our angel investors and Sand Hill Angels on board,” Ehrenhalt said in a release.
Carl Norman, president of Capstone Financial Group, an international investment bank in the automotive and mobility space with West Coast offices in San Jose, said the firm was excited about Ziggy and believes robots will be well marketed by the EV market. as it represents a cost-effective alternative that simplifies EV charging infrastructure.
“We look forward to expanding into Ziggy’s production and partnering with parking operators, office and residential landlords, hotels, venues and more,” Norman said in a statement.
Ehrenhalt said there are several differences between Ziggy and fixed-charging stations, including the cost-effectiveness of the robot and the flexibility of the system.
“With Ziggy, you have a whole lot of flexibility where you have a home base or charging off-site and then if a tenant comes in with a few EV drivers and the company wants to have a few more chargers, the site can easily do something. And Ziggy can add units. ,” They said.
But what about the name – Ziggy?
Ehrenhalt said that when he thought about what to call his robot, he wanted a name that was memorable and would do well internationally. He is a big fan of David Bowie and his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, and adores Ziggy Marley, the son of reggae pioneer Bob Marley, he said.