Portable on-demand power for roadside assistance.
SparkCharge, the Massachusetts-based startup has introduced the latest version of its portable electric vehicle DC fast charger, called the Roadie. The new product was announced today in what the company called its first annual "SparkDay" event.
A lot has changed since we first covered SparkeCharge back in April. At the time, they had recently raised $3.3 million in seed round financing and were planning on scaling up manufacturing of the 20 kW portable DC fast-charge system that's primarily designed for roadside assistance service. That's powerful enough to deliver about 1 mile of driving range for every minute of charging.
Typically, when an EV does run out of power, the driver isn't very far from their destination. For one reason or another, they just didn't make it to the charging station along the route or to their final destination. A 15-minute charge will deliver roughly 15 miles of driving range which should, in most cases, get them to their destination.
Then, in May, Sparkcharge began two pilot programs in California, aimed at testing out the system, finding any possible flaws, and improving upon the initial design before they began to move on to mass-production.
Evidently, the pilot program testing paid off and the company gained some insight from the real-world use and made some changes. After some weeks, they have now revealed the next generation SparkCharge called The Roadie.
The Roadie is smaller than the previous version and the battery modules hold slightly more power than the original version. The old modules were larger and each held 3.5 kWh (3.2 kWh usable). The modules for the Roadie are smaller and can each hold 3.7 kWh (3.5 kWh usable).
The system is scalable and can accommodate up to 5 modules that simply stack up on top of each other for a total of 17.5 kWh usable. SparkCharge estimates that 17.5 kWh is good enough to provide 60 to 75 miles of range, but as we know, the range provided is highly dependant on the efficiency of the vehicle receiving the power.
Sparkcharge is currently available with a CHAdeMO connector, but a CCS option will be available soon. It certainly makes sense to offer the CHAdeMO option first here in the US, because Tesla vehicle can charge on CHAdeMO with an adapter, while they cannot charge on the more dominant DC fast charge standard here, CCS. Since the vast majority of EVs in the US are Tesla vehicles, we believe SparkCharge made the right call in developing the CHAdeMO version first.
In addition to introducing the new Roadie charging system, SparkCharge also announced the launch of BoostEV, called "The world's first portable charging network" by Josh Rapoza, Vice President of Marketing for SparkCharge.
BoostEV puts the power of the Roadie in the hands of everyday EV drivers - Josh Rapoza, VP Marketing, SparkCharge
BoostEV connects EV drivers with SparkCharge Service providers. Instead of calling a tow truck or AAA, an EV owner that's run out of juice can call for a 20 kW boost from the BoostEV mobile app, and the service provider will respond to the scene.
BoostEV service is currently available in Richmond, VA, Chicago, IL, Boston, MA, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, TX, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Los Angelos and San Diego, CA as well as in Manchester, UK, with more markets coming soon. The BoostEV app is still in the final testing phase and will be available for public download in about a month.
InsideEVs has reached out to SparkCharge to get more information on the BoostEV service, including pricing and partner responsibilities. It appears like SparkCharge is offering partnership contracts to rideshare drivers, extending the network of Roadie service providers beyond that of traditional roadside assistance workers.
That's an interesting concept, but we'd like to know more about how that relationship will work. We're told the service provider will set the rates for the roadside service, not SparkCharge, so it will likely vary greatly from territory to territory.
Going into the Tank
Additionally, SparkCharge will appear on the season 12 premiere of the popular ABC show Shark Tank. Co-founders Josh Aviv and Christopher Ellis will make his pitch to partner with the sharks this Friday, October 16 at 8:00 PM Eastern. So tune in to hear Aviv and Ellis explain more about why they started the company and their business plan.
“We are incredibly happy to get the opportunity to be on Shark Tank, and to be on the season premiere! That’s just icing on the cake.” Aviv continued. “Being on the show is a dream come true, getting tangible advice from the Sharks was priceless..”
We'd like to hear your thoughts on this new service. Do you believe there's a big enough demand for roadside EV charging to support this concept? We know people, especially those new to EVs, worry about running out of charge and being stranded on the side road, but we're not really sure how often that actually happens. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.