TechView: ZEVTRON Platform Looks to Accelerate EV Charging Infrastructure for Commercial Properties

ZEVTRON, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles
Courtesy of ZEVTRON
Bob Andrews, ZEVTRON.

By Meghan Hall

As electric vehicles and green modes of transportation increase in popularity, so has the need for electronic infrastructure and charging stations. ZEVTRON, an emerging tech platform, is looking to streamline the installation and management of these stations for those within the commercial real estate industry. The Registry connected with ZEVTRON CEO Bob Andrews on the platform and the future of EV charging stations.

Please tell The Registry a little bit about ZEVTRON. What prompted the founding of a platform geared specifically towards the electric car industry?

The idea for ZEVTRON started when my growing personal concern over the environment intersected with a desire to find a commercial endeavor that would make a difference/contribute socially while providing an attractive market opportunity. This quest started decades ago, first with a personal interest in the environment and nature, then concern about what the future would be like for my son. A real catalyst for turning concern into action was a trip to Alaska where Michael McBride shared environmental changes he observed over several decades, notably the receding snow levels on the mountains visible from his lodge. That fueled my interest and created a sense of urgency. During that trip I asked myself what can I do? It was at that point I made a commitment to make a difference.

After returning home from Alaska, I outlined a plan to determine my path forward. I started researching to understand what the biggest contributors to climate change were and how I could personally make an impact. I learned that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gasses and thought about how I could facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles. This led to my interest in EV charging infrastructure.

I found that the EV charging industry was new and evolving. There were challenges with existing providers and deficiencies in each of the current solutions. The industry was not at all customer centric. The leading companies were plopping EV chargers into parking lots and trying to take control from the property owner by establishing proprietary networks of charging stations and drivers. I saw an opportunity to take a vastly different, and much more customer centric approach. An approach that provides property owners and managers unmatched flexibility, control, and ease of use. With this the beginnings of ZEVTRON were born.

Can you talk a little bit about how the ZEVTRON platform works?

The cornerstone of the ZEVTON platform is flexibility—for property owners and managers as well as charging station users. As an open-source standards platform, our software can be used with a variety of charging station hardware. This provides property owners the ability to switch hardware as needs and technology change. 

Our software gives property owners and managers more control over who can use their chargers, when they can use them, and how much they will pay. One of the most powerful features of the ZEVTRON platform is our rate tables. This feature allows property owners and managers to set EV charging prices based on time of day, charging duration, energy consumption and type of driver. With this, property owners and managers can optimize energy consumption, minimize power costs, and participate in load management programs with local utilities. Really just about every use case imaginable can be accommodated by the ZEVTRON platform.

The ZEVTRON platform also has built in access control features. These features can be used to open, limit, or restrict station use to drivers. Access is quick and easy for all approved users through either a QR Code, RFID Card or a powerful, intuitive web app designed for mobile use. 

What is your favorite feature of the platform? Why?

For property owners and managers, the platform’s ability to establish user and charger groups. This is what really sets ZEVTRON apart.For example, a property owner/manager can set the same access and price for all drivers or set different access and pricing by type of user as defined by the property manager i.e. tenants, employees, and the public. The platform even has the flexibility to set access and pricing by day of week and time of day for each type of user. An application of this could give employees preferential access and pricing on weekdays during working hours but not on weekends and evenings.

For drivers, unlike most EV charging companies, we do not require drivers to download yet another separate mobile app. We do not require drivers to become a member or force them to join our “network”. Instead, we make it easy. Drivers can easily initiate use of the charging station from their smartphone via QR Code that leverages our intuitive webapp.

How can a platform such as ZEVTRON benefit major landlords or tenants, and those within the commercial real estate industry?

Our flexibility, reduction of risk and high degree of control benefits landlords, tenants, and managers.

Landlords can create a rules-based strategy for use of their charging stations that can be consistently applied across properties or customized by property, centrally or by the site manager. For example, as usage of the chargers increase, tenants might start complaining that their customers can’t get access to the chargers because they are tied up by public or employee users. In this instance the site manager can selectively limit access hours for public and employees until more chargers are deployed.   

ZEVTRON offers EV chargers from manufacturers in the US and around the world, each one selected because they are best in class for their primary solution. With our wide range of hardware, owners can select the option that best meets their requirements for power, space, placement, environmental, aesthetics, and price.

The ZEVTRON solution will help CRE landlords stay competitive and be more attractive to tenants by outwardly demonstrating that the property embraces the use of electric vehicles and clean energy, cares about its tenants, and provides amenities that attract the best tenants.

Is there a CRE sector—corporate, retail & public use, hospitality—that you think would most benefit from use of the ZEVTRON platform? Why or why not?

All of the above. That’s the beauty of our solution. It allows us to serve each of the sectors you mentioned and to do so very well. The ability to accommodate a wide range of very specific use cases means that we can serve all CRE sectors.

Additionally, we will be introducing an enhancement to our platform early next year that will make it even more efficient and provide more information and value to property owners and managers. This enhancement ties to our customer centric mission of adding value for the property owner, as opposed to building our own proprietary network of chargers and users.

Many new commercial developments are limiting parking–especially in urban areas. How does ZEVTRON intend to overcome this challenge?

We see this trend as further evidence that ZEVTRON’s flexible and customer centric approach is perfectly suited to the future of EV charging. Our solution supports the property owner’s needs. Under this scenario, a ZEVTRON solution will allow property owners to support more user groups with fewer charging stations. 

How does ZEVTRON plan to grow its presence over the next year? How will the platform ensure that it remains competitive?

The ZEVTRON solution is already future proofed. It allows for change and optimization as needs grow, evolve and become more sophisticated.

We believe our customer centric approach will keep us on the path of remaining competitive. Not to beat the drum on our use of open standards too much, but by not handcuffing the customer to us forces us to listen and evolve.

Finally, the very nature of open standards drives prices down on hardware, which is also greatly beneficial to remaining competitive.

What are some market trends you are seeing within the EV charging industry? How do you see these trends evolving? 

Automakers are betting big on electric vehicles. Just 4 years ago, EVs were projected to reach 15 million by 2030. More recent estimates put the number closer to 28 million by 2030. Conservatively, just 15 million EVs will create the need for:

  • 18 million residential chargers
  • 600,000 public “level 2” (240 volt) plugs
  • 27,500 fast-charging plugs

In addition to automakers, the government at both the national and state level have made commitments in support of electric vehicles and zero-emissions. The year 2035 has become a convenient and common goal among states (California, Massachusetts, New Jersey) and now General Motors and Volvo to reach 100% new zero-emission vehicles. 

The Biden Administration plans to increase EV adoption in the US through revisions to the Federal EV tax credit and an increase from 200k EV’s to 600k. Government vehicle procurement has set EV goals:

  • 100 percent “clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles.”
  • Investment in EV Charging Infrastructure
  • Deploy more than 500,000 new public charging stations 

However, the EV charging infrastructure has not kept pace. As a result, the EV charging infrastructure will experience exponential growth in the next decade. 

Is there anything you would like to add? Anything we should be asking?

The EV charging industry is still in its infancy but growing and changing rapidly. This has created exciting opportunities but also comes with challenges. It will be important for property owners and managers to become educated. To gain an understanding of their current needs and anticipate future requirements so that they can make informed decisions and select the best solution now and into the future.

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