The mandates are clear. As a country, as consumers, as global citizens, we must enact a seismic shift in the way we power our lives – and particularly transportation – if we’re going to fend off the destructive effects of climate change already affecting our lives.
California has set an aggressive goal that all new vehicles manufactured as of 2035 will be electric or plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and the federal government has followed suit. Though it remains to be seen if we meet those aspirations, the die has been cast, and the major automakers are ramping up R&D and production.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) predicts that by 2030, there will be 26.4 electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads in the United States or 10% of all light-duty vehicles (cars and light trucks).
However, a primary component in this EV evolution that must be addressed is infrastructure. More and more innovators are entering the market to solve for the vast expansion that must occur before we can accommodate a fully electrified U.S. One of the recent entrants into this space is California-based EVPassport.
Founded in October 2020, EVPassport has already expanded into 34 different states and has offices in Brooklyn and Barcelona, in addition to its headquarters in Venice, California. The company was co-founded by software veterans Hooman Shahidi and Aaron Fisher, and they are continuing to scale and grow to meet the growing demands of the EV market.
“We started our journey because we wanted to answer a simple question, ‘How do we make electric vehicle charging as easy to get as gas?’” Shahidi, co-founder, Co-CEO, and President, says. “We fundamentally believe it is very easy to make things complicated, but it is incredibly difficult to make things simple.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done; we’ve simplified the process. We’ve removed the economic and technological barriers to electrification so we can deliver mass adoption throughout the country.”
The company has created a “seamless and frictionless EV charging platform,” and the connective tissue in all of it is its software. Designed to be fast, easy to use, and adaptable to provide specific options for various industries, EVPassport only requires you to scan a QR code and connect to your digital wallet or credit card instead of downloading an app, fob, or other complicated processes. The company continues to innovate by rolling out four unique charging experiences tailored to hotels, valets, workplaces, and parking garages, allowing host companies to integrate the charging experience with loyalty rewards and other perks and services.
“We’re so grateful for the pioneers that came before us – the Blinks and Electrify Americas of the world,” says Shahidi. “But I see them more as Blockbusters or Barnes & Nobles, and we’re Netflix, Amazon, Uber. We’re challenging the status quo, and we’ve been able to do that at an extremely fast pace. We’ve already disrupted the marketplace significantly. As a result, we already have thousands of chargers in our network, and our customers range from Nuveen to Holiday Inn to Oak View Group to Icon Parking, with many others in between. We center our product around customer success, driver success, and ensuring that we’re making it very easy for people to use our platform.”
EVPassport is a venture-funded public benefit corporation. A benefit corporation is designed for social enterprises and has modified obligations that allow these entities to pursue for-profit and nonprofit objectives. The company has seen explosive growth with thousands of chargers in its network.
“We have the charter to do more than just make a profit,” says Shahidi. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to our key stakeholders to make sure that we’re using conscious capitalism. This means we’re doing good for society, as well as our investors and other key stakeholders.
And really, we are beholden to the most important stakeholder in this equation, and that is Planet Earth. As we scale and make decisions for our enterprise, we always prioritize that piece of the equation.”
EVPassport is positioned as an infrastructure engagement platform that delivers hardware and software connectivity both online and offline. Their chargers are universal, affordable, and easy to deploy. It is the first-ever open, API charging platform.
“We’re delivering the fastest zero to ROI than anybody else,” says Shahidi. “This sector is ripe for innovation in both the product and business. We must continuously mandate every piece of the way we live, work and play to embody the notion of electrification so it has a real impact. It’s going to help minimize our carbon footprint, generate economic benefits, and create jobs.
To build this infrastructure, we need more electricians and support engineers than ever before. We are creating jobs in the United States that include hardware and software engineering. There’s so much opportunity when we double down on electrification to save the planet, improve our society, help our communities, and we’ll make money along the way. That is the notion of stakeholder capitalism.”
The company has centered its value proposition around the customer journey and its software to create a verticalized cloud strategy that currently includes Workplace Cloud, Hotel Cloud, Mud Cloud (multi-unit dwelling), Fleet Cloud, and Parcs Cloud, to name a few. Each delivers functionalities specific to each industry and caters to the users and customers of these segments.
“With Hotel Cloud, for instance, you can start a charging session with your last name and room number,” he says. “It’s that simple. Or, with the workplace cloud, you can start charging sessions with a single sign-on through Microsoft and Google. These are things that make it extremely easy for users. All the practices of the past have created barriers to electrification, and every single charging company continues to create these barriers but us.
When you arrive at one of our charging stations, chances are you’ve discovered it through Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze, or you found it in the dashboards of the vehicles; all you need to do is scan the code and start charging.
Newer GM vehicles have its Ultium Charge 360 network built into the vehicle’s dash that will help drivers locate the nearest charging stations. An added benefit is that companies that host charging stations can integrate other amenities such as rewards and loyalty points, discounts, incentives, etc.
EVPassport has a revenue-share model that creates an income- and loyalty-generating opportunity for their customers, so the chargers become a profit center, not a cost center for companies that install them. And having this benefit literally drives consumers to their establishments.
“Our universal chargers have, on the level-two side, a J1772 connector,” says Shahidi. “This is compatible with nearly every vehicle coming on the market except for Tesla. Tesla chargers apply to only Tesla vehicles, but our chargers are compatible with Tesla adaptors, welcoming them as well. And then, on the fast-charging side, which is level three, they all plug into a CCS1. Aaron, my co-founder, and I are software people, so we have a whole different vantage point. We wanted to make sure we were creating technological programs that deliver convenience. Our mission is simple: how can we leverage technology and design to connect the world through an EV infrastructure that empowers mobility for all.”
As electrification options expand nationwide and worldwide, services options will, too, making it a viable option for most consumers going forward.
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Copyright © 2022 California Business Journal. All Rights Reserved.
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