These undercover charging stations could crack the case for EVs

In true summer blockbuster form, undercover cops are often the cinematic heroes.

But this summer, there’s a new star to cheer for.

The undercover charging station.

You ...

Tagged: Electric Vehicles, Grid, Charging Stations

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These undercover charging stations could crack the case for EVs

Blueprints of an electric vehicle at a charging station

So, the company developed a small charger. It’s so small that it can be installed into everyday things that are already in a community.

Key Points

  • New technology might make electric vehicle charging stations cheaper to install.
  • Using existing structures cuts down on costs and makes stations more accessible.
  • They also use a slow charge, which will help level out electric demand on the grid. 

In true summer blockbuster form, undercover cops are often the cinematic heroes.

But this summer, there’s a new star to cheer for.

The undercover charging station.

You read that right: Charging. Station.

German startup company Ubitricity is coming up with solutions to make electric vehicle charging stations cheaper to install and easier on the power grid.

So, the company developed a small charger. It’s so small that it can be installed into everyday things that are already in a community.

For instance, London just installed 82 of the chargers into streetlights. These chargers are cheaper to install since they rely on existing structures instead of having to build a complete charging station from the ground up.

These small devices offer electric vehicle owners who live in urban areas a place to charge up if they don’t have a garage or an accessible outlet at home.

A vehicle would generally need to be plugged in overnight to fill the battery using the pint-size stations. But that might actually be a good thing for the electric grid.

Big spikes in electric demand from quick chargers can strain the grid. These low-power charging stations help avoid those spikes and would generally use electricity at low-use times, like in middle of the night.

There aren’t any undercover street light charging stations in the U.S. yet (that we know of anyway, but, you know, they are undercover, so we could be wrong). The company is hoping to expand to cities in the U.S. soon. And that’s a plotline worth seeing.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Look, a squirrel! Rechargeable batteries for the easily distracted

Let’s face it: We have short attention spans. We need things five minutes ago, or we’ll likely lose interest. That’s one of the challenges for electric vehicles. Who has time ...

Tagged: batteries, electric car, ABB, Charging Stations

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Look, a squirrel! Rechargeable batteries for the easily distracted

Dog on a trail

A Swiss rail and bus company created the equivalent of an attention-deficit battery. It does quick 15-second charges while travelers get on and off the bus at each stop.

Key Points

  • Charging electric vehicles can take too long for our short attention spans.
  • A Swiss company is now using flash charges.
  • It gives buses 15-second charges throughout their routes to save time and use more affordable energy.

Let’s face it: We have short attention spans. We need things five minutes ago, or we’ll likely lose interest. That’s one of the challenges for electric vehicles. Who has time to let a car battery recharge?

A Swiss rail and bus company is working on a solution. They created the equivalent of an attention-deficit battery. Instead of taking one long charge, it does quick 15-second charges while travelers get on and off the bus at each stop. These flash stations give the buses just enough energy to get to the next stop, whith then a little longer charge of about five minutes at the end of their routes.

This approach has a few advantages. The first is the simple time savings. Instead of sitting idle for longer periods of time, these buses can utilize the time it already has to stop during its regular business. The other advantage is that it keeps these larger energy users from pulling lots of energy from the grid all at once. By taking smaller amounts of energy throughout the day, it helps keep energy demand more constant instead of peaking at certain times. Big peaks in energy demand require energy companies to ramp up additional sources of energy, and these sources usually aren’t as affordable.

The company behind this new technology, ABB, just finished a pilot project and now has a commercial contract to operate the buses in Geneva. The hope is that this system could also work for other large electric vehicles that make frequent stops like delivery trucks and cabs.

Now, where’s that squirrel? 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Plug into the future

Are electric vehicles the wave of the future or just a niche market?

It all depends on your driving habits. For your daily commute and short trips, an electric vehicle ...

Tagged: Electric Vehicles, Charging Stations

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Plug into the future

BHP Chevy Volt

EVs: Charge your car and head out for your daily commute

Key Points

An electric vehicle could be right for you.

EV can have ranges up to 265 miles.

Over 12,000 charging stations nationwide

Can charge to 80% capacity in approx. 30 minutes.

Are electric vehicles the wave of the future or just a niche market?

It all depends on your driving habits. For your daily commute and short trips, an electric vehicle can get you there quietly and pollution free.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 10 percent of all daily car trips are less than one mile, 95 percent cover less than 30 miles and 99 percent under 70 miles. And for those kinds of journeys, an electric vehicle that relies solely on an outlet for recharging is a solid alternative to diesel- or gasoline-powered vehicles.

The EV battery range has improved in the past few years. The 30- to 40-mile electric range of the Chevrolet Volt was followed by the 75-mile range of the Nissan Leaf. The new Toyota RAV4 EV has a tested range of 125 miles. And Tesla recently rolled out two high-end EV models with ranges of 265 miles.

You can charge an electric vehicle, right in your garage, from a standard 120V outlet. If you decide to install a 240V line (like the kind used for a clothes dryer) and charging station, you can charge your electric vehicle in as little as four hours.

There also are now more than 12,000 charging stations nationwide, and that number is growing. Fast-charge technology allows some EVs to charge to about 80 percent of capacity in about 30 minutes.

As EVs reach price parity with internal combustion cars, it will make more sense to go with an EV, as electricity costs are far less than gasoline in a cost-per-mile comparison.

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