Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 6, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology and Innovation: Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging


  • A local company is offering the electrical equivalent of a gas can to drivers of electric vehicles. EV Mobile Charging, a Phoenix-based company, will go out to stranded electric vehicles and provide a charge in 30 minutes that will give 10 miles of driving. Eric Edberg, one of the co-founders of the company, will talk about his new business.
Guests:
  • Eric Edberg - Co-founder, EV Mobile Charging
Category: Science

View Transcript
Ted Simons: When you're driving and you run out of gas, you can if need be, walk to a nearby gas station with a gas can if you have to. But what if you drive an electric vehicle? That's where Phoenix-based company E.V. mobile charging comes in. In tonight's edition of Arizona technology and innovation, we hear from Eric Edberg, one of the cofounders of E.V. mobile charging. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Eric Edberg: Thank you for inviting me.

Ted Simons: OK, this is the electrical equivalent of a gas can, so to speak?

Eric Edberg: Yes. Where they normally come out with a gallon of gas and a can for you, I bring the equivalent of a bucket of electrons.

Ted Simons: OK. How many volts have you got in this charger?

Eric Edberg: This charger is a 240 volt, the actual generator portion of it will put out about 40 volts. The current generation of cars will only draw about 16 amps at the moment, so there are rather slow charge, full charge on a car takes about seven, eight hours. The new generation of chargers that will be out on the second generation of Leaf and when Ford comes out at the end of this year is going to be twice as fast. They are 6.6 kilowatt chargers. We will probably be able to charge a car fully in about four hours. So currently my unit is set up to go out and put about 10 miles of range in a vehicle in about 30 minutes. With the new generation, that's going to drop it to probably I'll be able toll either put 20 miles in in 30 minutes or give you 10 miles in 15 minutes. Now, they also -- the E.V. project is a large project funded by the federal government of which Phoenix is one of the test centers. They put fast charging ports on the vehicles that are in the E.V. project, and those are large 440 volt three-phase chargers. They will charge a car from zero to about 80% charge in about 10 to 15 minutes. If I can get my hands on one of those, once they are U.L. approved, I'm going to try and build one of those and see if we can run it as test vehicle in Phoenix.

Ted Simons: But for now have you what have you -- how big is it?

Eric Edberg: It's a small unit. It doesn't take up any more than about four square feet, it if its in the back of -- Fitz in the back of any full-size pickup truck. It will also if it on a small trailer. I have some small motorcycle trailers it fits on. So it could be used in fleet services for like a rental company that has a lot of cars, you just park them out in the parking lot. The guy tows it up at night, drops it off, let's them charge up, comes barks moves it down the row so you don't have to spend hours shuffling cars back and forth.

Ted Simons: So you basically are driving out there, and the poor guy in the Nissan Leaf or whatever it is --

Eric Edberg: runs out of charge.

Ted Simons: And you just -- for 30 minutes you can make sure that they can get home if home is within 10 miles -- or at least a charging station--

Eric Edberg: Correct. The current technology that everybody says is -- will send out a tow truck and take to you the nearest dealer of a charge. The dealer may be 20 miles away, depending on where you are. If you are close to home, which you should be if you run out in an electric car if you didn't plan very well, it could be farther, but the idea is to get you back on your way and get you home to where you then can put it on charge, or at the very least the nearest commercial charger, which there will be a lot of them around.

Ted Simons: How many electric vehicles are on the road right now?

Eric Edberg: As of April, we're probably talking maybe a dozen leafs in Phoenix. I understand that there are about 1500 of these that are in the port in Los Angeles. They will be coming along probably in the next three months, we'll see a large influx of vehicles.

Ted Simons: Did you have a development and testing phase for something like this?

Eric Edberg: We did. What happened was my partner and I both drive electric rangers. Mine is a 2000, his is a 1998. These were factory made by Ford back then. The same type that the E.V. 1 was done. They didn't realize that Ford and Toyota and Chevrolet all had vehicles besides the E.V. 1 out there. And these actually escaped the crusher, and we have been driving -- I've had mine for 10 years, he's had his for four years. And we don't have a problem because we have limited range. We've got about 50-mile range, so you really think before you go somewhere. Now that they're extending the range, you're going to get a wider range of people driving the vehicles, and your chance of running out of charge inadvertently is greater. And so we were kicking around one day saying, what if they run out of charge? What are they going to do? There's nothing out there to fix that problem. And so we just kicked it around and came up with an idea, went out, rented a generator, we had the charging docks because the older vehicles use an old version of what is out there now, and so we hooked it up and tried things out, and accidentally it worked the first time. I was very surprised. So we sat down, spent about two months designing what we were going to do for this. Came up with the concept, the prototype is what I'm running in my truck now, and with about a 2½-month development time, we came up with the product. And it basically is a critical use stand-by generator that was designed to run electrical appliances. Because one of the things that the new generations of vehicles do that ours never did is from a smart phone, you can say, I'm going to be taking you out in 30 minutes, air condition this and have it cool when I come out. It's running all of that off from wall power. You don't want to have an old generator for power tools that's running square wave power that will fry your electronics. It's rather expensive.

Ted Simons: No we don't want that.

Eric Edberg: So we've got a critical use generator, it's giving the equivalent or better than the power out of the wall at home.

Ted Simons: We've got less than a minute here. I want to know, what's next for your company? Is this where it goes? What's next down the road?

Eric Edberg: Well, we're in development for trying to do the 440 charger. Past that, I don't know where this is going to go. It depends on how fast the electric car movement takes off. If it really takes off, this could be a big deal making these for tow companies and fleet use out there. So I'm just along for the ride to see where it goes.

Ted Simons: Very good. Thank you so much for joining us and good luck with your company.

Eric Edberg: Thank you.

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