South Florida company working to alleviate range anxiety

By Paul Borden

(March 31, 2021) MIAMI — A big worry, probably the biggest, that most owners have with electric vehicles is a fear that they will run out of juice when they are far from charging outlet. A South Florida company is taking on that issue and more with products that will allow you to charge up your plugin electric vehicle at home, at a commercial charging station, or virtually anywhere on the road via a gas-generated 240-volt mobile charger that will provide enough charge to get you home or to the closest fast-charging station.

The company is Blink Charging. It was founded in 2009 and has headquarters in Miami Beach.

It offers a wide-range of products for home use as well as a network of over 23,000 charging stations nationwide covering 40 states and eight countries. The company also is in the process of creating infrastructure that will make finding an outlet to charge up your PEV no more of a challenge than gassing up your fossil-fuel car or truck at the corner gas station.

According to Blink Vice President for Grants David Soens, who was one of the speakers at a recent Zoom session for the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA), the federal government has designated certain highly traveled corridors around the United States for  a network of fast-charging stations.

Blink offers investment opportunities for companies to establish outlets as well as working with federal, state, and in some cases municipal grants to build the infrastructure. In Florida, Soens said, owners of charging stations will work with the state on evacuation plans to make sure that EV drivers have a designated path to safety in the case of a an approaching storms.

Blink prefers to operate under the owner-operator model with the company maintaining ownership of the fast chargers and charging stations to maintain of potential future income possibilities and also be assured that if something does go wrong the company can step right in and fix it, Rebecca Gutierrez, VP for Marketing, said during the session.

That separates it from most other companies that make fast chargers and sell them outright.

Outlets may be installed at all kinds of locations, said Rock Henderson, CEO of Ghost Space, which works with Blink to secure those locations.

Henderson said having a charging station outside a store or shop can actually help a business’  bottom line as 89 percent of EV drivers who plug in at a location then enter that business to shop, and 43 percent become regular customers.

In addition to apartment and condo complexes and business offices (charge your car while you work!), other potential sites for charging outlets include fast-foot restaurants, strip malls, and virtually any business that caters to the public.

“It’s a perfect match. You get your ‘charge’  inside while you’re getting your charge outside,” Henderon said. “It works at all levels of private industry.”

Even a gas station can can offer a fast-charging service.

“We think it’s a great incentive for our customers to provide that at our shopping locations,” said Matthew Bingham, an acquisition specialist for Florida-based Bingham Realty. “They can charge their car while shopping or getting a coffee or a sub sandwich or any of the above.

“We see a great potential in it. We think it would be a great resource to have at our locations.”

Some day, and maybe sooner than you think, there will be facilities with multiple hookups like the typical food-store-fast-food-fuel-rest stop along today’s Florida’s Turnpike. There’ already is one such large charging facility in England.

And more good news: Equipment updates also are continually cutting the length of time it takes to get an electric vehicle fully charged.

“We were doing 50-kilowatt chargers six, seven, eight years ago and now we are evolving to 150-kilowatt plus and then moving to 350-kilowatt chargers,” Soens said. “That’s going to reduce your charge time at a location from 30 to 40 minutes to 15 minutes and in some cases even under 10-minute charge events in the near future.”

Speaking of charges, Soens says the average cost to get an EV up to speed is $10, though that can vary according to what vehicle you are charging and its battery capacity.