This Startup Wants To Keep Your City Streets From Being A Mess Of EV Charging Wires

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Ever heard the joke about nobody driving in New York City because of too much traffic? Well, truth is, there are over 2 million cars cruising the streets and parking garages, and that number isn’t slowing down. Even with efforts to boost public transit, the reality is those cars are here to stay. Now, picture a future where all these cars are electric. Currently, around 42,000 EVs are registered in NYC, but that number is on the rise. The big question: where and how do they all charge?

Enter itselectric, a Brooklyn startup with a slick solution: curbside EV chargers tapping into spare power from nearby buildings. These chargers, discreet silver posts by the curb, use detachable cables for drivers to power up. No bulky eyesores, no tangled wires turning the city into a charging nightmare. Property owners get a chance to make some extra cash—estimates start at $1,000 per year—by supplying power to drivers.

It’s an ambitious fix for a familiar issue: how to juice up EVs without a home garage or complex charging stations. No more people stretching extension cords out of windows like it’s a Brooklyn trend. According to itselectric co-founder Tiya Gordon, it should be as simple as plugging in at home, but on the street. Urban problems need urban solutions, and this startup might just be onto something.

Meet the brains behind tselectric, a game-changer in curbside charging. Founded by design industry veteran Gordon and sustainability-savvy architect Nathan King, this startup is causing ripples in the industry. Teaming up with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Hyundai Cradle, they’ve secured a cool $2.2 million in pre-seed funding.

In the heart of Brooklyn Army Terminal, six pilot chargers have taken residence in an old bank building, making waves in tech for sustainability, bagging a prestigious award from Fast Company. From facing countless rejections to boasting a waiting list for hundreds of streetside chargers, the journey has been nothing short of remarkable.

Rewind to November 2022, and tselectric was making cold calls to cities about curbside charging. Fast forward, and now they’re fielding inbound requests from cities actively seeking innovative curbside charging solutions.

How It Works

Here’s the kicker—installing an itselectric curbside charger doesn’t cost property owners a dime. The startup foots the bill, plugging directly into existing electrical connections, running on spare electricity. No need to tap into the utility grid, as these Level 2 chargers cater to everyday parking and overnight use. Plus, property owners earn passive income by supplying electricity to EV owners, with separate sub-metering ensuring their bills remain untouched.

For drivers, it’s a breeze. Armed with a handy cord stored in their vehicles, a European-inspired concept gaining traction in the U.S., they download the app, grab the cable designed for efficiency, and pay for charging on the go. Tesla or not, everyone gets a cable tailored to their needs. According to Gordon, it’s about carrying the cable you need and plugging into a universal socket.

Pricing is straightforward—drivers pay for the energy in kilowatt-hours, tailored to each city’s utility base rate. The goal? Convenient, close-to-home charging that won’t break the bank, offering a far more affordable alternative to distant DC-based chargers.

Why Level 2? Gordon emphasizes practicality and necessity. With Level 2 chargers, EV drivers can top up overnight or during short stops, diverging from the predominant focus on DC fast chargers for long-distance travel. Despite the Biden Administration’s push for 1.2 million public chargers by 2030, a whopping 1 million of them being Level 2, the country currently boasts only 126,000, many likely in need of repair. Gordon poses the critical question—how do we deploy a million chargers in seven years? Speed and scale are the answers tselectric brings to the table.

In places like New York, where most folks don’t have home charging, Level 2 charging is a big deal. Sure, companies like Revel are putting up fast chargers, but we need more of both – fast and Level 2. According to Gordon from Itselectric, fast chargers aren’t the ultimate fix. They suck up as much juice as a 300-unit building monthly. Team Level 2, she says, is the way to go for the next 10 years. It’s cheaper, quicker, and simpler to set up, plus it doesn’t hog power like fast chargers. And the best part? No utility constraints – they can set up shop wherever there’s a building and a curb.

Now, looking ahead, Itselectric isn’t just sticking to the Big Apple. They’re dropping 25 more chargers in Detroit. Grants from DTE Energy and the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification are backing them up. The plan? Eight more cities in 2024. They’re keeping mum on which ones, but the interest is buzzing. While there’s still some head-scratching about the costs in tricky electric projects, Itselectric seems to be hitting the right notes. With more cars going electric in New York and beyond, they’re onto something big. Sure, they need to convince investors that Level 2 is the real deal, but Gordon is confident. In her words, they’ve got a niche, and no one else is touching it.

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