Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ubitricity EV charging wins New York challenge

Steve Rogerson
August 22, 2018

German mobility company Ubitricity has won New York City’s Climate Action Challenge with its plan to retrofit existing street lights with charge points for electric vehicles; a first test installation was completed in June.
With the objective of finding sustainable methods for the EV charging infrastructure, New York called for technology companies to present ways that address the rollout of electric mobility while supporting the management of the local electric grid.
“Ubitricity’s innovation will be instrumental in helping the city achieve its climate action goal while simplifying the needs of electric vehicle users and future adopters,” said Jeremy Goldberg, deputy chief technology officer for the city.
Ubitricity’s technology, which will be tested further in New York, allows lampposts to be transformed with outlets into electric vehicle charging points that users can connect to with personally-owned smart charging cables that have built-in meters. This technology has the potential to enable the city to deploy kerbside vehicle charging more quickly, with lower cost, and with less street clutter than other approaches.
“We at Ubitricity are thrilled and proud to have won the NYCx Climate Action Challenge,” said Knut Hechtfischer, founder of Ubitricity. “New York City’s decision to set an example will contribute greatly to the global mobility transition. To make electric mobility possible, charging infrastructure has to become available everywhere and easy to access. Retrofitting streetlights makes this possible.”
More than thirty international and local organisations submitted technology ideas, including solar canopies, energy-harnessing infrastructure and software to connect vehicle batteries to the energy grid. Six finalists were chosen last June and each received up to $13,000 to pilot their technologies.
Ubitricity’s retrofit technology is being used in Germany, UK and France. Prior to the Climate Action Challenge, the technology had not been showcased in the USA. If a pilot programme is successful, the Department of Transportation and Department of Citywide Administrative Services will explore a possible near-term, multi-year demonstration project that could include chargers in light poles and new cordless, stand-alone charging points.
Nearly one third of greenhouse gases produced in New York City come from transportation, and private vehicles account for 90% of those emissions. Technology must not only look at building infrastructure, but infrastructure that works sustainably for all New Yorkers. Reducing these emissions will require much wider adoption of electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure.
“The Climate Action Challenge exposed us to emerging technologies from around the world,” said Michael Replogle, deputy commissioner for policy at the NYC Department of Transportation. “This has helped our understanding of the feasibility of adapting existing infrastructure, like light poles, that might enable distributed kerbside electric vehicle charging with less clutter to the city’s streetscape.”
A pilot test of Ubitricity’s winning technology will complement the plan to develop fast charging stations across the city with a $10m investment to develop hubs with up to ten chargers per site. These efforts can, in coordination with the city’s Clean Fleet programme, support the administration’s target of having a fifth of new motor vehicle registrations in New York City being electric by 2025.
“There is no question that technology is already playing – and must play – an even larger role in our fight against climate change,” said Marisa Lago, director of the Department of City Planning. “The winner and runners up of this competition are living proof that ingenuity is alive and well in our dynamic city – and that local actions can help take the wind out of future Sandy-like storms.”
The finalists demonstrated a diverse and vast array of climate action technology. For example, Volta Charging is a San Francisco company delivering a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations by partnering with brands to sponsor free charging for all EV drivers. Volta believes its unique business model and sponsorship approach can accelerate EV adoption citywide. Its final round demonstration included a detailed visual mock-up of a future fast-charging hub in NYC.
Wave is a Salt Lake City-based company providing wireless charging infrastructure for transit, port, industrial and off-road EVs. Wave believes that wirelessly or inductively charged electric vehicles are cost-competitive with conventional vehicles. Its final round demonstration included visualising, via computer-aided design images and video, how a wireless charging retrofit might be implemented on an existing fleet vehicle and how a wireless charging pad might be installed in an existing roadway.
Adaptive Motion Group is a Solana Beach-based company designing and delivering smart vehicle technology and smart ecosystems where intelligent systems work in harmony with humans safely and intuitively. It believes that mobile charging infrastructure is the principle way to scale EV adoption citywide as the charging units are able to move between different parking spaces instead of being a fixed asset. Its final round demonstration included showcasing how a mobile Freewire Mobi charger could be used to navigate tight corridors such as parking lots or industrial yards to charge stationary vehicles effectively.
Jumo Bikes is a Brooklyn-based electric bike share company that in four years has delivered 15,000 bikes into 40 different markets traveling five million rides. Its Social Bicycles were the first ever smart-bikes with integrated GPS, payment systems and locks, and the company believes dockless, electric biking is the future of clean transportation. Its final round demonstration showed the design, form factor and user experience of newly-installed chargers in its existing Brooklyn Navy Yard pilot.
Innogy Consulting is a Boston-based management consultancy with a mission to support energy leaders in mastering the challenges of a transforming energy world. In partnership with Chinatown Bureau, a New York-based digital product studio that has led mobility products for Ford and Lincoln Motor in the USA and China, it is proposing a concept focused on accessible and quick EV charging infrastructure in a one-stop shop mobility hub. The final round demonstration included building a physical installation of light pole retrofit technology as well as showcasing a detailed interactive VR experience of future fast-charging hubs across NYC.