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Tritium to sell fast chargers to the US

Charging ahead: Brisbane-based Tritium is supplying fast chargers to US company ChargePoint for their network of electric vehicle recharge stations.

ChargePoint picks Brisbane supplier’s market-leading tech for highway EV chargers

General News logo30 Mar 2015

By IAN PORTER

THE operator of the largest electric-vehicle charging network in the United States has chosen Brisbane engineering company Tritium to supply the fast chargers it needs to expand across America’s highways.

ChargePoint has selected Tritium’s patented DC (direct current) charging unit to use in highway locations where people are traveling long distances and need a rapid recharge for their electric vehicle (EV).

Speaking with GoAuto during a visit to Melbourne last week, ChargePoint president and chief executive officer Pasquale Romano said DC chargers would make long distance travel possible for EV drivers.

“DC chargers will play a vital role in enabling EVs to be your only car,” he said.

Mr Romano was in Australia to seal a deal with Tritium to be that company’s agent in the US for DC fast chargers. This puts Tritium in a solid position with ChargePoint holding a 75 per cent market share.

“If you are going to make an EV your only car, you are going to have to deal with the use cases that are not that frequent, but are vital,” he said.

EVs would not be viable if people had to wait four hours for a recharge after driving only 250 kilometres.

80 center imageFrom top: ChargePoint president and CEO Pasquale Romano and Tritium CEO David Finn.Around the suburbs in shopping centres, in homes and at work premises, slower (and less expensive) AC chargers would suffice, he said.

ChargePoint sells both AC and DC chargers to independent businesses such as shopping malls in the suburbs and highway stops along the interstate network in the US.

“We sell charging stations and sell service subscriptions to keep the station in ChargePoint.

“The software service we offer deals with collecting payment from drivers and giving it to the station owner, plus lots of other functions. We don’t own the stations. The parking lot operator typically owns the station.

“If it’s a grocery store, he would own the station. He gets to set the price, he gets to do whatever he wants with the station.

“We‘ll keep those stations on maps on our own mobile maps. We feed in-car navigation systems with the location of charge stations.

“We are the glue that binds this all together and creates one big network from all these little parking lots, so the drivers sees it as one big network.”

Mr Romano said Brisbane-based Tritium made the best DC charger available anywhere.

“These guys make absolutely hands down the best DC charger right now on the market.”

The key to Tritium’s superior design was a patented transformer that weighs only 12kgs, according to Tritium chief executive officer David Finn.

He said other DC chargers have installation problems because of the weight of their transformers. They needed reinforced foundations and more floor space than the Tritium unit.

“The keys are the transformer and the liquid-cooling system with radiators done by PWR,” Dr Finn said.

PWR is another Brisbane based company that makes advanced radiators, largely for vehicle use. Its units were used on the Red Bull racing cars that won four consecutive Formula 1 world championships.

The liquid cooling makes the charger more robust in a wider range of climatic conditions and eliminates air filter, fan and maintenance issues.

“It’s awesome,” Mr Romano said. “It’s an incredible engineering job and what’s nice about this is we’re taking this product to all our markets. This thing is going to be the leading-edge product world wide.”

Dr Finn said the Tritium charger technology could work at various rates up to 50kW. At this top rate, an EV can receive a charge good for 48kms in just 10 minutes.

Dr Finn said while Tritium would maintain a manufacturing operation in Brisbane next to its research and development centre, the majority of production would be done by a contract manufacturer in China.

He said Tritium was guarding its intellectual property not only with patents but also by sourcing components from many companies and having them assembled in China.

“We are also addressing Europe as well. Europe’s a lot more fragmented than the US.

“We have several customers over there. We don’t envisage a deal like we have done with ChargePoint in Europe.”

Dr Finn said the difference between an AC charger and a DC charger is that the DC charger is “offboard”.

“The charging electronics is in the charger whereas an AC charger is really a network smart switch that connects to the charger in the car.

“The reason you change to DC at a certain power level is that the cost of the electronics on the car would become prohibitive if I wanted to put a 50kW charger in every car.”

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