EV, Battery & Charging News: Wallbox, Kia, Electric Era, Lightning eMotors & EVCS

In EV, battery and charging news are Wallbox, Kia, Electric Era, Lightning eMotors and EVCS.

Wallbox & Kia EV9 Bi-Directional Power

Wallbox a global leader in electric vehicle (“EV”) charging and energy management solutions, announced it is working with Kia America to bring bidirectional charging to Kia’s EV9 customers. The companies plan to offer Wallbox’s second generation DC bidirectional charger, Quasar 2, to Kia EV9 customers starting in the first half of 2024. Wallbox expects Quasar 2 to be the first EV charger allowing bidirectional charging with the Kia EV9.

Quasar 2 is a next-generation 11.5kW bidirectional charger that will enable EV owners to charge and discharge their electric vehicle to power their home, vehicle-to-home (“V2H”) or send energy back to the grid, vehicle-to-grid (“V2G”). A Kia EV9 can hold between 76 and 100kWh of energy, over 5x the amount of energy of a standard 13.5kWh home storage system, and power a typical household energy consumption for up to four days, removing the need for expensive home energy storage systems.

In case of a power outage, Quasar 2’s Power Recovery Mode automatically switches the user’s power source from the grid to their vehicle to allow a homeowner to use their EV battery as an emergency generator. This type of backup service is becoming not only increasingly important, but crucial, given the sheer volume and duration of power outages in the US. Last year, California alone witnessed 39 power outages and more than 414 hours of total outage time. Across the U.S., unforeseen power outages cost the U.S. economy $150 billion annually.

“We’re excited to work with Kia America toward our shared vision for accelerating electrification and transforming how we harness and interact with energy,” said Enric Asunción, CEO and co-founder of Wallbox. “Bidirectional charging can offer long term benefits to users, grid operators, utilities and will accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. When combined with an EV capable of bidirectional charging, such as Kia’s advanced EV9, Quasar 2 offers one of the most functional and affordable home energy management solutions on the market.”

Wallbox estimates that Quasar 2 can offer users yearly energy bill savings of over $1,000* when combined with utility Demand Response programs and time-of-use utility rates. By taking advantage of time-of-use utility rates in the U.S., users can enhance the impact of V2H technology by scheduling charging sessions at times when energy prices are low and discharging their car to power their home when prices are high. Users who have solar panel installations can also store excess solar energy in their EV during low usage periods and then harness this energy at another time, including peak periods, to reduce their reliance on the grid and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy.

Electric Era Fast-Charging Financing

Electric Era, a leader in revolutionizing the world’s EV fast-charging infrastructure with its proprietary PowerNode EV high-speed charging stations, announced the close of its Series A financing. HSBC Asset Management led the Series A financing with participation from SQM Lithium Ventures, Blackhorn Ventures and Proeza Ventures.

The $11.5 million in new funding will accelerate PowerNode charging station production and deployments to meet growing demand for reliable, fast and affordable EV charging stations at convenience stores and quick service retailers (QSRs). The PowerNode charging stations are powered by Electric Era’s real-time and autonomous software platform that brings optimized performance and industry-leading 99.5% reliability to EV drivers and convenience store partners. A PowerNode charging station delivers a 100-mile charge for a typical EV in less than 10 minutes for more than 100 vehicles per day per charging station.

“We’re building the future of car refill by tackling the key challenges of adoption, including lack of easy access to reliable charging stations and too much dependence on our nation’s overburdened electrical grids,” said Quincy Lee, CEO and Founder of Electric Era and a former Manager of Engineering at SpaceX. “PowerNode-OS leverages Silicon Valley software principles used to safely launch NASA astronauts in order to bring fast, reliable and affordable charging stations to retail locations where drivers are already used to stopping. We uniquely deliver a premium charging experience that works well for EV drivers and delivers exceptional value for our convenience store customers, like Plaid Pantry.”

Electric Era’s PowerNode charging system leverages patented charging station technology and an AI-driven software platform to enable autonomous and real-time control of electrical grid power consumption, hardware reliability and a battery buffer.

PowerNode’s built-in battery automatically discharges to support increased charging on-demand, lowering the draw on the grid and enabling more charging sessions per day for a lower cost. Installation of a PowerNode charging system can be completed in as little as 16 weeks by avoiding local grid infrastructure upgrades, versus several months or longer with existing solutions.

“Decarbonizing US transportation rests on getting more Americans into EVs. Electric Era has cutting-edge technology that solves the core reliability and grid challenges of EV fast charging needed to transform the car refill experience. We are excited to support the company in its next phase of growth,” said Michael D’Aurizio, climate VC investor at HSBC Asset Management.

Electric Era is expanding to convenience stores across the US, where 160 million Americans visit each day according to NACS, to provide safe, well lit, affordable charging stations that do not require an app and function like traditional fueling sites, with the swipe of a credit card.

A Portland, Oregon Plaid Pantry convenience store will be the first commercial installation site to go live for the PowerNode, launching in early September, with convenience stores in nine states expected to be online before the end of the year. Electric Era aims to have more than 10,000 PowerNode charging stations installed at convenience stores across the US by the end of the decade.

The new funding brings the total Electric Era Technologies funding to $19M.

Lightning eMotors Deploys Class 3 for East Zion

Lightning eMotors (NYSE: ZEV), a leading provider of all-electric powertrains and medium-duty and specialty commercial electric fleet vehicles, announced today the deployment of two of its Lightning ZEV3™ Class 3 passenger vans with the Utah Clean Cities East Zion pilot shuttle program.

The public-private initiative is a landmark demonstration of how industry, federal and local agencies can come together to demonstrate smart mobility solutions that increase regional resiliency and connectivity. As part of a pilot program that began in 2019, EVZion has developed a zero-emission, electric vehicle (EV) shuttle system to demonstrate the efficiency of electric vehicle transportation in rural gateway communities. The first Lightning eMotors ZEV3 shuttle buses included in this program were deployed on August 22, 2023.

“The opportunity to work with the Utah Clean Cities team and our partners to demonstrate the viability and scalability of all-electric, zero-emission passenger systems aligns perfectly with our mission and vision,” Nick Bettis, VP of marketing and sales operations at Lightning eMotors, said. “As the only electrified vehicle provider actively delivering customized, fully electric Class 3 shuttles and a robust range of charging solutions, Lightning eMotors is excited to be part of the EVZion project.”

“Introducing right-sized vehicles like these shuttles offers a solution that addresses safety and congestion concerns at the park head-on,” stated Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities Executive Director and project lead of the EVZion project. “The historic Mt. Carmel Tunnel, an iconic landmark since its inauguration on July 4, 1930, has long struggled with accommodating oversized vehicles and maintaining a safe traffic flow. By adopting these shuttles, tailored to the tunnel’s dimensions, we’re taking an active step towards ensuring a two-way traffic flow that eliminates the frustrating hours and miles of backed-up vehicles. This approach not only respects the park’s history but also paves the way for a more enjoyable and secure experience for all visitors.”

Lightning’s ZEV3 passenger vans have a long track record of operating in public and private transit and on-demand microtransit contexts across the county.

“Selecting Lightning eMotors as our electrified shuttle partner was a meticulous and comprehensive process,” Bostick continued. “We’ve been closely monitoring Lightning’s development, and we have high confidence in their ability to become a leader in this domain. Their proven technology strongly resonates with our zero-emission objectives. Our aim is to expand this pilot into a nationwide program. Today, we are forging a partnership with Lightning eMotors, fully confident in their capability to be the ideal collaborator in realizing our vision.”

The vans were customized with rear-facing cameras by Lightning’s partner Volition Components in Broomfield, Colorado, to allow the side mirrors to be folded so that the vans can pass each other in the tunnel. In conjunction with the deployment of the two vans, Lightning is demonstrating Lightning Mobile, which provides DC fast charging in a trailer format. This technology is especially valuable for charging EVs in locations that may be remote from the grid.

The EVZion ribbon-cutting follows a recent announcement by Teton Village, WY, about the acquisition of Lightning eMotors vehicles to replace the diesel buses that serve nearly half a million people in and around Teton Village resort.

“Our ability to customize and deliver vehicles to our customers to meet their specific needs is one of our major differentiators,” Bettis said. “We aren’t just committed to the idea of deploying 100% zero-emission vehicles, we are actually doing it. In fact, Lightning has delivered more than 600 fully electric vehicles that have travelled more than 5 million miles, and more Lightning vehicles are hitting the streets each week.”

EVCS 2 Million-Mile Milestone

EVCS, one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging network operators on the West Coast, is thrilled to announce reaching a major milestone in its collaboration with Hertz: two million miles of EV charging on the EVCS network by Hertz rideshare renters.1

Earlier this year, EVCS and Hertz launched an EV charging pilot program for rideshare EV renters. Through this program, Hertz rideshare renters can enjoy exclusive access to three Hertz + EVCS weekly charging plans. The program is currently available across 22 Hertz rideshare locations in California, covering key metropolitan areas like Los Angeles CountyOrange CountySacramentoFresnoBakersfield, and Stockton. Powered by 100% renewable energy, this EV charging program has resulted in more than 500 metric tons of CO2 emission reduction so far.

The program provides Hertz rideshare renters with three convenient and cost-effective weekly subscription plans that fit their unique charging needs. EV drivers enrolling in these plans have the opportunity to reduce their charging cost by up to thousands of dollars annually. The most popular plan, Rideshare Unlimited Anytime, gives drivers unlimited charging privileges on the EVCS network, with unrestricted 24/7 access to all DC Fast and Level 2 chargers. The Rideshare Unlimited At Night plan allows for unlimited charging during the off-peak hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and the Rideshare Standard Anytime plan includes a charging credit up to 100 kWh; with both plans, drivers can also charge at a discounted pay-as-you-go rate. This EV charging program compliments Hertz’ rideshare rental offering, which provides drivers with flexible weekly contracts that include insurance and maintenance.