With electric vehicle adoption accelerating, so too is the need servicing public charging stations. Unlike fixing an old gas pump, some companies are using technology to both service and learn from the stations, to improve EV charging technology.
More than one-quarter of public EV charging stations were found to be nonfunctioning, according to a survey done in California by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Cool the Earth, an area nonprofit.
That’s why maintenance companies such as Charge Enterprises, Smart Charge America and a California-based startup called Chargerhelp! are expanding at lightning speed.
Kameale Terry founded ChargerHelp! barely three years ago and says the company is now servicing EV charging stations across 17 states. For the South-Central Los Angeles native, it is as much a business as a personal mission.
“Mass EV adoption is really important to me. My mom passed away from lung cancer just about a year and a half ago, and I live in a community where we have very poor air quality. Getting folks to trust infrastructure, to drive electric, sits near and dear to my heart,” said Terry.
Working with partners such as Tritium and utilities including Duke Energy and Southern California Edison, she says her company has already touched over 10,000 stations.
But it’s not just about fixing them when there’s a problem.
“You need to be able to understand how the station is behaving in the field. You need to understand what issues may be happening in the car and the charging station,” said Terry.
Chargerhelp! tracks information on how stations are being deployed and how they’re working to improve current reliability and to build more reliable and sustainable infrastructure. That data set can be helpful to network providers, EV and charging station manufacturers, plus governments, according to Terry.
Some investors liken the company to the Valvoline or Jiffy Lube of the future, but the data component is really what attracted investors such as Blue Bear Capital.
“Chargerhelp! has data across communication networks, across charger type, across geographical location. All of these sort of components and issues and factors play into why or how a charging station isn’t working,” said Vaughn Blake, general partner at Blue Bear Capital.
The next frontier could be home charger repair, which would open an enormous and expanding market.
In addition to Blue Bear Capital, ChargerHelp! is backed by Energy Impact Partners, JFF Ventures, Exelon Foundation, Autodesk Foundation and LA Cleantech Incubator. ChargerHelp! has raised a total of $21.75 million so far.