This is part two of my interview with Paul Vosper, CEO and President of JuiceBar, an EV charging manufacturer that is building a national EV charging infrastructure that will sustain the environment for future generations.
In part one, Paul shared how he got involved with JuiceBar, how his EV ownership led him to create a product to solve the problems he was dealing with as well as people’s concerns about range.
In part two, we discuss the challenges that JuiceBar is taking head on, such as future-proofing its products. Paul and I also talked about the design of the EV chargers and he shared how the design enables JuiceBar’s customers to advertise their own brands.
A Challenge That JuiceBar Is Taking Head On
The world is changing rather quickly. One of the challenges that JuiceBar is taking head on is making sure that its chargers are future proofed. Paul explained that one of the things coming out in the next few years is vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-building capability. This is where the vehicle can charge a home or office — send electricity back in that direction. Ford was offering this in Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ida’s recovery. It was going to do it for my community, but our power came back on the day before Ford’s F-150 trucks arrived.
“We can start using vehicles as a grid asset, and what I mean by that is …. You think about renewables, particularly solar. The peak in the office market is from 7:00 in the morning to 9:30 in the morning, and then the peak in the residential sector is 5:00 pm to about 7:30 pm. So, what you can do is take the power out of the vehicles to help manage that power in the morning. Recharge them when solar is more plentiful during the day. They become a sponge that can soak up excess power. Stay off of the grid between five and seven o’clock, and recharge after midnight when the grid is quiet and barely used.
“That enables utilities and building owners to significantly reduce their cost and make the use of renewables much more efficient. That’s really where the future lies. It’s also things that are happening today. A couple of years ago we were aware that the 3G system is going to be turned off. All of our chargers are 4G enabled. A lot of our competitors haven’t picked up on that and they continue to sell 3G chargers, and now there’s a panic with building owners wondering whether or not their chargers are going to work once this year the 3G system gets turned off.”
Paul emphasized the importance of making sure that a product is future-proofed. He thinks that the industry hasn’t really spent enough time considering this. For those businesses investing in putting chargers in their parking garages, they need to take into consideration that if those chargers are not 4G enabled, they may become obsolete.
“That sours the taste for people who are trying to do the right thing. Ultimately, it slows down adoption and people’s willingness to move into this technology. It’s critically important as an industry that the charging side is moving ahead of the automakers and telecoms industry, utility companies — they’re not paying attention to all of these different things. You run the risk of the charger becoming obsolete, and that creates a sour taste in people’s mouths and they will think that this isn’t ready for prime time yet. So it’s a problem that the industry needs to be more vocal about.”
JuiceBar’s Unique Design Allows For Customers To Advertise
The design of the JuiceBar chargers are minimalistic and Paul explained that customers are able to brand the chargers with their own logos and advertising.
“If you look at the design, it’s a flat front face, and we ask all our customers to put their brand on the front of the charger. If you’re a building owner and you want to demonstrate that you’re thinking about environmental issues and you’re thinking about being green — especially for companies that have a number of employees — it allows them to use the charger as a way to demonstrate their commitment.
“That was really the first thing. We wanted to make a design that would allow for branding on the front of the charger. So we’re effectively white labeling it for the customer. And probably about 60% of our chargers go out branded — with the customer’s brand.
“These chargers have to go into a lot of different environments. It can be anywhere from a public parking lot to a Class A office building to an apartment complex. So it’s a little bit like the design world. You want something that looks attractive but blends into very different designs. It could be in an art deco building in Miami or a skyscraper in New York or an apartment complex anywhere in the country. So you want it to look nice, but it has to be able to fit into different kinds of environments.”
Paul also explained that they are redesigning the chargers to be a little smaller and a nicer design. He explained that he didn’t want the charger to conflict with whatever design a customer is looking to achieve with their building. It needs to blend in effortlessly.
“It’s sort of a balance between looking nice and not being too over-designed that it clashes or doesn’t look attractive. For a lot of our customers, this is very important. They’re spending millions of dollars designing a new building and they don’t want something going in that building that conflicts with whatever statement they’re trying to make.”
JuiceBar has chargers in both the US and Canada, and Paul shared other plans for expansion. The company is planning to supply chargers to the UK and is in discussions in the Middle East. He noted that he felt like he was taking the ice to the Eskimos since the Middle East is the land of oil and gas.
“They see the future and they see that oil and gas is probably at its peak demand right now and that it’s going to fall from here. So they’re looking to diversify their economies and bring the latest technologies.”
He explained that many of these governments see the need to transition. Paul also noted that JuiceBar is looking to bring its EV chargers to China, which is the world’s largest automotive market.
“Six months ago if you’d said, ‘do you see yourself supplying chargers to China?’ I would have said no. They’ve got plenty of options there. What we’re finding is that the EV growth in China is so fast that the domestic charging suppliers are unable to keep up with the demand, so they’re looking to bring additional charging capacity and groups like us.”