Australian electric car charging infrastructure provider Tritium has presented its vision for the future of the grid at South by Southwest, an annual festival in Austin, Texas, that brings together popular culture, film and music and provides a platform for innovators to share ideas and plans.
Tritium CEO and co-founder David Finn joined Tritium’s newly named American president and cleantech veteran Jeff Wolfe to outline a new product portfolio offering from the Brisbane-based company that it believes will enable it to build strong relationships with new B2B clients.
The Driven was unable to attend SXSW, but David Finn was able to share some of that vision prior to the event.
“We are building a product portfolio offering that is quite unique, that will enable our customers to be technology leaders and be able to utilise EVs to support that grid rather than be an impediment to increase the cost of having to augment the grid going forward,” Finn says.
The company, which Fast Company recently named as one of its most innovative companies, sees a huge opportunity in the USA where demand for ultra-fast DC charging infrastructure is rapidly increasing.
It also sees electric cars not just as energy consumers, but as vehicles for the storage and management of energy. (Listen to our podcast interview with co-founder James Kennedy here).
“We think that’s interesting because of the way in which public infrastructure will deploy,” says Finn.
Tied in with that is how to affect purchasing decisions for private transportation.
“Why do you buy a vehicle? To have the freedom to drive that vehicle however you want to wherever you want,” says Finn.
“Having to charge slowly really doesn’t give you that ability. There are a few things have been impeding EV uptake, [such as] battery pricing, and the number of different vehicles that are on offer. The last remaining is public EV infrastructure.”
To ensure the system actually works in a way that is useful to consumers, Finn says that the “simultaneous factor” must be taken into account: making sure supply of charging head units outweighs the demand.
“You want free ones so you don’t get queuing,” he says, in much the same way as a petrol station.
But the way in which EV charging will be most effective will be for drivers to be able to charge while they undertake other activities, such as doing the groceries.
“We are bringing forward products for our B2B customers – the convenience stores of the world, the shopping centres – places that have public infrastructure already and want to be able to provide charging services.”
For customers, the change in behaviour will not be huge.
“We certainly see situations where you have 50 charging spots – you pull up and straight away plug in. It’s a slightly different change in the way you refuel these cars compared to a petrol car,” he says.
In fact, EV charging can give a driver more time, not less.
“If I’m [charging] once a week and doing my groceries while I do that, I have no downtime, in fact I have less downtime.”
Finn points out that EV chargers could even be in, say, an underground car park: “There’s no emissions in these things, they can be inside,” he says.
In 2018 Tritium was given a boost with a minority investment from fuelling giant Gilbarco Veeder-Root, enabling the company to fund the expansion into the US.
With a range of 50kW-475kW electric vehicle chargers already on the ground across Europe, America and Australia as well as a newly inked deal with Tata in India (which could potentially be one of the world’s largest EV markets), Tritium’s vision is already well underway.
“Our focus is making sure transportation is electrified. How do you do that? You need to impact the buying decision,” says Finn.
“Tritium wants to make it easy for people to get in cars.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.