On a mission to simplify EV charging.
Chargeway's Matt Teske is a man on a mission. When Teske got his first EV, it didn't take him long to realize public EV charging wasn't easy. If fact, Teske believes it's one of the greatest impediments to mass electric vehicle adoption.
Many potential EV customers are confused about how EV charging works, where to locate stations that have connectors that they can use with their cars, and how to tell which stations charge faster than others. To make matters worse, most sales personal at car dealerships can't offer much assistance with public charging. You're lucky enough if they can accurately explain the EV that they are tasked with selling, and very few can really explain how public charging actually works.
So Teske launched Chargeway in 2017 in an effort to simplify EV charging. He envisioned creating a simple graphic that would quickly explain the different connectors as well as the different speeds that various charging stations can provide.
- Automakers are not accustomed to explaining fuel/gasoline. The fossil fuel industry did all of that work for them, so they expect another stakeholder will do the same.
- Auto dealers do not need to explain gasoline when selling a gas car. Thus, they default to selling gas cars because they are easier to sell
- Utilities are not accustomed to competing with anyone so they do not know how to create strong retail marketing/messaging. But they are “electric fuel” providers so now they are competing with Exxon, BP, and Shell. They need help in explaining their “fuel” product.
- Consumers are on the receiving end of all of this. EV early adopters wanted to take the lead and learn how EVs worked taking that responsibility away from automakers, auto dealers, networks, and utilities. But the mass market will not shop this way. They need electric fuel to be simple and easy for them to make the switch to an EV with confidence.
In an effort to achieve those goals, Teske created Chargeway, a software platform, a mobile app, and communication solution for the EV industry.
Using a combination of colored circles and numbers, Chargeway creates an identity for the different charge connectors and power levels, aimed at offering electric vehicle owners an easier way to understand how their cars are charged.
Is this really necessary? We think so, and here's why:
For starters, there are three types of charging:
- Level 1 (120-volt)
- Level 2 (208/240-volt)
- DC Fast charge (480+ volt)
Additionally, there are four different types of plugs (connectors) used, depending on the brand of the vehicle.
- J-1772 (Level 1 & 2 charging)
- CHAdeMO (DC Fast charging)
- Combined Charging System or Combo or CCS (DC Fast charging)
- Tesla proprietary (Level 1 & 2 and DC fast charging, or as Tesla calls it, "Supercharging")
To make matters worse, on all three levels of charging there is equipment that will charge your EV faster than other equipment will, and the EV owner often doesn't know which ones are faster and which ones are slower.
That problem becomes even more amplified with DC Fast chargers, as some stations can charge up to ten times faster than other DC Fast chargers can.
And all the information above is only accurate for the North American market. It's different in Europe and Asia, so EV charging is even more complex, with even more connectors than what we explained above.
- It removes the engineering terminology of charging so automakers can more effectively package their vehicle's infotainment, UI/UX
- It offers an easy curriculum for auto dealership training and tools to increase dealer confidence and competency in “electric fuel” that they can pass onto consumers
- It creates an “electric fuel” language utilities and networks can use to better market themselves as fuel providers and compete with the simplicity of gas and fossil fuel branding
- With the major impediments resolved, it creates an EV customer journey for average consumers that is less intimidating during research, purchase and ownership.
Chargeway's labeling system first helps EV owners identify which connectors they use by color. Tesla's connector is used for all levels of charging Teslas and they are always red. For levels 1 & 2 charging all other EVs, a green label with a 1 or 2 will be used, depending on the power delivery of the charging equipment.
For DC Fast charge, CHAdeMO is always a blue label and CCS is green. There are also labels for power levels 3 through 7 which covers a power delivery range from 21 kW up to 400 kW.
Using that system, you can quickly see a "Blue 4" station would be a 50 kW CHAdeMO unit. Additionally, a "Green 6" would likely be a 150 kW CCS station. EV owners will easily understand that the higher the number, the more power the station can provide.
This color/numeric coding system quickly answers the following:
- Which stations do I use? (Match a vehicles plug color to a station color)
- How long does charging take? (Higher level means faster charging. A higher number car can accept more power, a higher number station offers more power)
- Where can I travel to? (Visualizing which colors/number stations work for your electric car via station labels, the Chargeway app and eventually, signage)
I downloaded the app myself and entered my Tesla Model 3 as my vehicle. The Chargeway app automatically filters out the public charging stations that I cannot use. Other EV charging map apps have that functionality also, but I don't believe they automatically set the filter to your specific EV for you.
I admit I could be incorrect with that assumption since I've had the apps for a long time now and aren't 100% sure how it was set with I first downloaded the app. Perhaps one of our readers can let me know how it works on the different apps in the comment section below.
What I personally liked about the app was that I could see that a new V3 Supercharger opened in New Jersey. I knew that because it displayed a "Red 7" for that location, while all of the other Supercharger locations in the state were limited to 150 kW, and were thus labeled "Red 6". My Tesla app doesn't show me the power capabilities of the Supercharger locations, but Chargeway does, and I like that.
Teske's creation has been gaining steam since he began working on it in 2016. Last year he introduced the Chargeway Beacon, a large interactive touchscreen display that can be put on display at car dealerships. The Beacon closely mirrors the Chargeway app, offering users a chance to view and better understand how EV charging works.
If consumers can get this kind of information at the dealership, we think they will be much more likely to go through with the purchase of an EV. Just like the app, the Beacons can be set to filter out charging stations that cannot service vehicles sold at the dealership.
Chargeway has also partnered with Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, Avista Utilities, Austin Energy, and Indianapolis Power and Light to help advance the Chargeway mission. Together with his partners, Teske has placed fifteen Chargeway Beacons in four different states and the results have been very encouraging.
Not only are the customers using the beacons, but the sales staff at the dealers are using them to also better understand EV charging themselves. Armed with that knowledge, they are better prepared to sell more EVs.
We'd like to know your thoughts on Chargeway. Like it, don't like it, think it can be improved? Let us know in the comment section below. We're sure Matt will stop by to check out what people think and perhaps answer some questions there if there are any.