JuiceBar is an EV charging manufacturer that wants to build a national EV charging infrastructure that will sustain the environment for future generations. I sat down via Zoom with CEO Paul Vosper to talk more about this. This will be a two-part interview.
I first asked him about the inspiration behind JuiceBar. In this first part, Paul shared with me how he got involved with JuiceBar, how he owned an EV before buying the company, thoughts on range and range anxiety, and where you can find a JuiceBar location.
Paul told me that he and his business partner originally bought the company and ended up deciding to keep the name because all of the customers loved it. I agree with the customers — it’s a cute and catchy name.
Paul told me that his business partner called him out of the blue one day in January 2018, shared info about the company, and asked for help building it. He told me that he was turning 50 and was getting increasingly concerned about climate change and the direction where we were headed. It was the combination of building a business in the right way and using it to do something positive to contribute to change that inspired him to jump in.
“We also have interests in bringing manufacturing back to the US as a way to bring middle class income — particularly in a state like Connecticut where we had a very strong manufacturing base. It’s deteriorated, and so we’re able to offer jobs to people who may not have a college education but we can give them a salaried income, a 401K plan and health benefits.
“For a lot of our employees, one of the first times they’ve had healthcare — that felt really good. When we started doing due diligence on the company and on the market, there were a couple of things that we found. One, it was clear to us even in 2018 that we were heading to an EV future. I think that argument is over in spades.”
Although money is being invested into the EV space, the problem that Paul noticed was that EV infrastructure was simply not ready for mass EV adoption. JuiceBar, he told me, will help solve this. As an EV owner, he’s run into a few charging issues that JuiceBar is solving with its new Gen 3 product.
“The amount of money that people are putting into the EV world now means that it’s an inevitability — in particular, the OEM automakers. There’s venture capital going into battery manufacturing, etc. This is too much money moving to stop it.
“What we did see was that the charging industry as a whole just wasn’t ready for mass adoption. The reliability of a charger is poor, customer service is not great, and the ease of use is a problem. I drive an EV and I find still today too many chargers don’t work when I plug in, or I have to call the 1-800 number and they need to manually do a reset. All of this creates more anxiety around adopting EVs.
“We decided that we were going to launch a product — a charger — that would address all of these issues. And that’s really the Gen 3. We continue to make improvements, continue to develop new products, but we’ve really wanted to make sure that we were able to offer a made-in-America product that was reliable, priced fairly, easy to use, and had the power levels to accommodate the newer vehicles coming out.”
Where Can You Find A JuiceBar Charger Currently?
JuiceBar has rolled out to several states. Texas, California, Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, and several others have JuiceBar chargers. Naturally, I asked Paul when Louisiana, my state, would have one.
“I think we’ve got a couple of projects that we’re working on, but if you look at that map, it’s a very heavy overlay where the EVs are. I think that what we’re now beginning to see is that two years ago, an EV was a rich man’s toy. You were looking at an $80,000–$100,000 vehicle. Now with things like the F-150 coming out and GM bringing out a number of EVs with different sizes and types of vehicles, we’re really now getting to the point where there’s a vehicle that suits everybody’s budget and needs. That’s really the game-changer.
“You look at the F-150 and it is the highest-selling vehicle in the market. It’s Ford’s flagship vehicle and I think there’s a two-year waiting list for that vehicle. I used to be in the real estate world and have a lot of friends in construction and they love it because you can power your power tools off of the vehicle. You can run floodlights if you’re having to work at night — it’s a mobile generator.”
The Speed Of EV Adoption
Paul noted that the speed of EV adoption is faster than it may seem. He pointed out that, collectively, he thinks we are underestimating the speed of EV adoption and recounted his first experience in an EV a few years ago.
“A friend of mine bought a Tesla and I drove it and I realized that this is just better technology. It’s fast, it’s quiet, it’s fun to drive, it doesn’t need any maintenance. I can recharge it in my garage. I don’t need to go to a gas station and I can charge in my office. I went out and bought an EV before I bought the company. I don’t think I can ever go back to a gasoline vehicle. It’s so much more convenient driving an electric car.”
The conversation turned toward hybrid electric vehicles and how some with range anxiety would prefer a hybrid because of the flexibility of using both gas and electricity to power their car. I’ve ridden in several Ubers whose vehicles were a hybrid of some type, and in most cases, the driver told me that they preferred the flexibility. Paul told me that he once drove a Volvo hybrid and eventually realized it wasn’t going to be the way forward.
“Eventually, what you realize is that it’s a stop-gap measure. I own an EV and I didn’t have a problem buying a charger. Range anxiety is less of an issue once you actually own a vehicle and you realize there are lots of chargers out there. They’re way more than you think once you actually start looking for them. So I have never had a problem charging my vehicle.
“One of my sons is at Penn State, so that’s 350 miles of range. My other son is in DC. I routinely go out to Penn State in my EV, or go to DC or up to Boston. I’ve never had a problem getting a charge when I needed it. And with the newer vehicles coming out with faster charging capacity, my car is about 2 years old and already it’s starting to become obsolete. I wouldn’t buy a car now that didn’t have 300 or 350 miles of range and the ability to charge at 200 kilowatts or above.
“We’re moving fast into a different world and you’ve got the luxury end now starting to push the 500 and 600 miles of range which will eventually come down into other more moderately priced vehicles. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility in the next two or three years that we’ll see 700 miles coming out. If you have 700 miles of range, that’s a day of hard driving.”
Stay tuned for Part Two, where we dive into JuiceBar chargers and what makes them special. Part Two will be published on CleanTechnica Pro, with an introductory snippet here.