auriga EV charger
Artist’s impression

Melbourne-based electric car charging solution provider EVolution launched this week its Australia-designed and developed AC destination charger, the Auriga.

Featuring a pedestal design, the Auriga, which is pitted against a number of local and overseas-made imports, is a first for the company which is targetting councils and corporate bodies looking to keep pace with the shift to electric mobility.

Built for Australian conditions, the robust charger, which can offer up to 22kW charge rate (between 2-4 hours charging to full depending on your EV’s battery size), is designed to provide top up charging at destinations such as workplaces and shopping centres.

The expandable pedestal design makes it a flexible Australian-made option for councils and corporates, says EVolution CEO Russ Shepherd speaking with The Driven on Tuesday.

“Because its a pedestal charger you don’t have the additional expense of a pedestal – normally you have to go buy a pedestal on top,” he says.

“And because it’s expandable, we can mount up to three ports so you can charge three electric vehicles at a time.”

As Shepherd explains, while AC charging is slower than DC fast-charging (which allows EV drivers to boost range at up to 400km of charging in 15 minutes – see our article on trickle to fast-charging for more detail), it has a particular place in the EV landscape.

There’s been a lot of controversy in Australia in past months about the ability of EVs to drive long distance such as from Sydney to Melbourne, and as Shepherd points out, “The reality is we’re not all going on road trips all the time … the reality is we’re not all jumping in our cars and driving from Melbourne to Sydney and back non stop.”

“The place where [AC chargers] are is getting a reliable top up in places that we go to on a daily and weekly basis – more charge, more often – that’s what this is about.

“AC charging absolutely has a place in the Australian EV community – a lot of the time we just want it in the right place. There’s more going in every week but there’s still gaps, they’re not in every shopping centre, not in every carpark.”

Additionally, AC charging is very cost effective compared to the DC chargers (they are typically about a tenth of the cost of installing a DC charger that are usually installed on key transit routes), and Shepherd expects the Auriga will compete well with imported AC units.

“We expect it to be cost comparative to other similar units with the benefit being Aussie-made, and we hope that councils will contribute to the local economy by supporting local,” says Shepherd.

The Auriga, says Shepherd, also presents another opportunity for the community at large, by creating jobs to build a base of individuals with the know-how to develop and install AC infrastructure.

“We’ve taken on a number of apprentices who will be assisting with the build and development of this product,” he says.

While the current model is a minimally viable product, it is already capable of measurement, monitoring and monetisation using EVolution’s internally developed back-end software – something that potential customers often overlook until providers such as EVolution dig deeper.

All internal electronics have also been developed by EVolution, making it an end-to-end locally made product.

Support and installation-wise, Shepherd emphasises the focus the company has on making sure the tech does what it says and customers can reach out any time should anything go wrong.

“There are customers out there that are absolutely dependent on these things working – a lot of the time now, EV drivers depend on their cars to get to work and get their kids to school. We’re very big on providing that level of support,” he says.

Additionally, there is a lot of importance placed on making sure the units are intalled correctly in the first place (unlike as experienced by this writer when charging the new Nissan Leaf recently).

“Because it’s a new industry, electricians and installers are not familiar with the nuances of what it takes to charge electric cars, so we are there during the install and post-install,” Shepherd says.

Installation of the Auriga can be done at both single-phase (eg your normal household electrical current) and three-phase – while the single-phase will max out at 7kW charge rate, if the current is upgraded after install the units will then run at up to 22kW.

As Shepherd points out, the rate at which a car can charge is often the limiter in the system.

“The reality is that even in the Jaguar i-Pace [7kW is] the maximum you can charge on AC. It’s hardly ever the charger – the bottleneck of the charger is the car,” he says.

As time goes on, EVolutions plans to expand the product range adding more features, as well as contributing to the growth of the local electric vehicle industry.

“EVolution is much more than just a reseller, we’re about the innovation, that’s what makes us tick. Education and consultation is also important, we want to contribute to the economy by developing these things as we go,” he says.

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