Freewire & Chevron Work Together To Bridge DCFC Installation Obstacles

One of the biggest obstacles to installing DC fast charging stations is getting it the big three-phase power it needs from the power company. This is not only expensive to put in, but makes for a huge bill every month (called demand charges). Demand charges are based on the maximum amount of power you use in a 15 or 30 minute period during the month.

Many commercial and industrial customers have already solved this problem by signing up for time-of-use (TOU) electric rates with their utility. TOU rates are lower at night and on weekends when demand is low. This gives customers an advantage and helps the power company manage its loads. But, that only helps with the rates, and not the monthly demand charge.

There’s a solution to both this and the limited availability of big power at rural businesses: Freewire’s stations with integrated battery storage.

Instead of relying on the buyer of the stations to pay enormous sums to the power company, FreeWire Technologies has a different strategy: integrate battery storage directly into the station and expect to use far less continuous power. Its charging stations are considerably larger than those at a Supercharger, but they’re all contained in one cabinet. There’s the charging equipment, 160 kWh of battery storage (enough to do 2–4 charging sessions in most cases), and all of the electronics.

Other companies have tried to store energy at charging stations, but there are crucial distinctions. Electrify America and Tesla use Tesla batteries stored separately from the charger, which necessitates difficult wiring, extra space for the batteries, and a lengthy installation process. They do their best to hide the battery packs, but the fact that they are even required makes it much more difficult to get everything approved. Instead of waiting and working for months, FreeWire delivers all of this in a self-contained box that you can just put up in a few hours.

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Because Freewire’s DCFC stations can run on either a smaller three-phase connection or even on a 208–240 volt connection, most gas stations can install and operate these stations for a LOT cheaper, and they can install them quickly. So, it makes sense that the company has been looking for gas station partners to expand its offerings for relatively cheap.

On Thursday, FreeWire Technologies announced a program that will make battery-integrated electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment and solutions available for Chevron’s branded stations. This includes both Chevron’s company-owned stations as well as its independently owned retailer and marketer stations.

“Our charging stations are helping retail locations like Chevron’s branded stations to enhance their offering to consumers,” said Arcady Sosinov, FreeWire Founder and CEO. “Providing ultrafast, convenient charging at traditional fueling stations can help unlock new customer relationships with EV drivers.”

“Chevron believes the future of energy is lower carbon, and our program with FreeWire is another step on our journey to deliver all forms of energy to our customers,” said Jesse Love, Chevron’s Retail Brand Experience manager. “We are committed to investing billions in lower-carbon projects over the next 10 years and are excited to join with companies like FreeWire that develop technologies that enhance our retail offerings and can grow our Chevron and Texaco brands.”

Freewire’s integrated Boost Charger will allow customers to get 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. The Boost Charger connects to low-voltage utility service and provides high-power charging, which is usually done by digging new trenches and connecting the grid.

“As the world electrifies, traditional fuelers are looking for turnkey, cost-effective solutions like ours,” continued Sosinov. “We’re honored to work with Chevron.”

FreeWire is constantly changing the game in the EV charging market by offering original solutions to big name companies like bp and Phillips66. These other supermajors have already turned to FreeWire for help furthering their own electric-vehicle plans.

Why This Is Bigger News Than It Appears On The Surface

It’s easy to think, especially during times of high gas prices, that gas station owners are making a killing, but unless that station is owned by the oil company, that’s not true at all. In many cases, the retailer only makes a few cents per gallon, and relies on the convenience store, drinks, and services like car washes to turn a profit.

Plus, even when it’s the oil company that owns the station, they’re still not going to want to invest big bucks (anywhere from $50,000 for a very basic single 50 kW station to approaching a million for a multi-stall 150+ kW station) in adding EV charging. It may be the right thing to do, and it may be the profitable thing to do in the long run, but that doesn’t mean they’ll want to bite that bullet today while they’re riding the oil industry into the ground and trying to have a profitable decline.

Offering these independent retailers and oil companies a cheaper option helps them as much as it helps us (current and future EV drivers). The lower cost of entry and the lower cost of monthly upkeep means that more of these stations will pop up more quickly. Having those stations means that the retailers and the oil companies can keep their profits and revenues up, especially the retailers who primarily use gasoline and diesel to get people to darken their doorsteps.

Everyone can get some good out of this.

Challenges To Overcome

That doesn’t mean it will be without challenges, though. The limited battery capacity of a Freewire station means that after a few people in a row charge up, the battery will be depleted and the station will either become very slow or unavailable until it can get some charge back up.

This isn’t the kind of problem economists don’t already know how to deal with, though. On top of being able to figure out ahead of time with an app if a station will be available, the providers can work together (using the tools Freewire gives them) to apply dynamic pricing. When a station really needs a break, its prices can go up, allowing people who really, really need the charge to still get it, but encouraging most people to go elsewhere while the station recovers.

We can’t do this with every EV fast charging station that goes in, but being able to get a bunch more stations in more places helps add flexibility to our journeys while helping retailers stay afloat.

Featured image provided by Freewire.


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