Today, you could be excused for thinking of electric cars as playthings for the rich. That was arguably true a few years ago, but it’s changing – fast. The signs are everywhere: nearly 200,000 pre-orders for the Ford F-150 Lightning, the rumored $25,000 Tesla Model 2, Tesla Model 3 topping the charts for EV sales in Europe, and numerous other affordable EVs in the pipeline.
Hiding behind this wave of affordable EVs is a tricky problem: where will they charge? Building public charging stations in cities and towns is necessary and valuable, but is also an incomplete solution. Why is this? Easy: having charging at home can make the difference between EV ownership being amazing vs. a real drag. If you own your own home with a garage or carport, it’s reasonably easy to install EV charging. However, it’s not easy at all if you live in an apartment building: you need to get your property manager, building owner, or co-owners to agree on EV charging, and the options on the market today are expensive, cumbersome to install, and just don’t work well in underground environments like a typical apartment building parking garage.
Why is this important? 46% of Europe’s population – and 56% in our home market of Germany! – live in apartment buildings. This is a population who – without charging at home – are unlikely to embrace electric vehicles. In the not-too-distant future, when limited availability of gas powered vehicles force this adoption, this population would bear a disproportionate time and economic burden of having to seek out public charging infrastructure to keep their cars powered.
Cue HeyCharge. Four years ago, I brought my first EV home to an apartment building in Munich, Germany. There was no charging available, and I quickly realized that the options on the market were too expensive and complicated to install, wouldn’t work underground without mobile network coverage, and didn’t meet the commercial requirements of my landlord. This was the lightbulb moment behind HeyCharge, and inspired our vision of low-cost, highly-scalable EV charging solutions for people like me – who lived in apartment buildings yet wanted to drive electric and enjoy all the benefits of zero-hassle charging at home.
HeyCharge has come a long way. We invented SecureCharge, which is the technology that allows us to solve precisely the problems described above. SecureCharge allows us to build low-cost, plug-and-play EV chargers that not only save our customers money, but also work better for users in underground environments where there’s no mobile network coverage. Having unlocked the price point and user experience we wanted to deliver, we built HeyCharge’s core product: a private, in-building charging product including hardware, an app for users, and a management platform for building owners. Our product allows non-technical users such as building owners and property managers to easily and securely manage the HeyCharge chargers in their buildings. And we built a range of hardware from ultra-low-cost (3.7 kW) through low-cost (7 - 22 kW) wallboxes to provide a perfectly integrated experience that starts with our app and leads all the way through to the hardware you plug your car into.
Along the way, we started receiving requests from companies wanting to apply the unique cost and user experience advantages of HeyCharge’s SecureCharge technology to their own EV charging products. This is how the HeyCharge platform was born. We provide our B2B customers (energy utilities, fleet mobility operators, and more!) with a combination of SDK, APIs, white labeled hardware, or our hardware development kits in order to build industry-leading embedded charging solutions based on our patent-pending technology.
As we found ourselves in the grand adventure of building HeyCharge from the ground up, we considered carefully what kind of company we wanted to become. It’s important to us that we establish values and culture from day 1 in order to truly do good in this world. This is the basis for our HeyCharge Company Values, and we hope to use this as a guiding light in how we conduct business, how we hire and grow the company, and how we interact with stakeholders including customers, governments, non-profits, and more.
We’re excited to have the opportunity to share these thoughts with you, and hope that our founder’s letter will become an annual tradition.
Chris and Robert