Gravity is launching an indoor charging hub in NYC with plans to scale – TechCrunch

Electric car fleet and infrastructure startup Gravity thinks it has cracked the code for city EV charging infrastructure. 

The firm, which was based in February this yr, introduced its building challenge to convert an indoor parking storage in the center of Manhattan right into a public EV quick charging hub. When the 29-space storage on forty second Street, which Gravity is leasing from actual property agency Related Companies, opens in inside just a few weeks, it is going to be the island’s first devoted EV charging area. Based on Gravity’s plans to scale, it gained’t be the final. 

“We’ll probably see five to ten fast charging sites of different capacity in Manhattan over the next six months or so,” Moshe Cohen, Gravity’s CEO and founder advised TechCrunch. “We’ve gone with Con Ed to dozens of sites in the five boroughs. We’ve surveyed the power grid and have plans to scale because it doesn’t work as a one-off. It works with scale, with coverage areas.”

Finding a spot to park your automotive in New York City is a nightmare in and of itself. Finding a park and a cost to your EV is like discovering a unicorn, and doubtless an costly unicorn at that. Most of NYC’s EV cost factors are behind the literal paywalls of parking garages, the place you would possibly discover one or two Blink or EV Connect chargers nestled right into a sea of ICE car parking areas. With Gravity’s hub, parking is free whereas automobiles are being charged. The solely value is that of electrical energy.

Gravity is not the primary to acknowledge the issue of charging electrical autos in an city core. Electric mobility firm Revel, first recognized for its shared e-mopeds round New York City, opened the city’s first public fast charging hub in an outdoor lot in Brooklyn this past June. Con Edison, New York’s electrical utility firm, has supported each initiatives with its electric vehicle charging incentives and rewards.

For Gravity’s website at Manhattan Plaza, the corporate labored with Con Ed to pull spare capability energy from two separate utility rooms on forty second Street and Ninth Avenue, bringing in round 2,400 amps of energy, which Cohen says is extraordinarily uncommon to have condensed in one place in any metropolis, not to mention New York.

Cohen mentioned he spent a very long time location-scouting earlier than selecting this as Gravity’s first spot, and proximity to energy wasn’t the one recreation changer right here. The website has its personal devoted entrance off forty second Street and falls proper between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, which is not solely shut to Times Square and the guts of town, but additionally to the Lincoln Tunnel which gives entry to and from New Jersey.

“Our vision is we are bringing infrastructure to all the places that cars are right now, so if you’re in our coverage area, you should never have to worry about charging your vehicle, because it’ll get charged where it’s parked,” mentioned Cohen. “So if you think about dense urban areas like Manhattan or downtown Chicago, where are cars parked? They’re either on a curb or they’re inside parking garages, and they’re very space constrained. And so you have to design different equipment that deals with the space and power constraints in order to have charging happen in all those places.”

Design is an enormous a part of Gravity’s enterprise mannequin, from the design of the area itself to the charging tools. The firm says it’s collaborating with Jasmit Rangr, an architect who is recognized for integrating his buildings with the panorama, local weather and setting, in order to remodel garages into enticing and welcoming areas that home clear electrical autos. 

“The whole area is for EVs only, so it’s really a chance to showcase an experience around what the world would look like if parking areas for cars had no pollution or oil spills,” mentioned Cohen.

Indeed, the renderings do look fairly flash – in no way the darkish, creepy, petrol-smelling caverns that one associates with metropolis parking garages. Gravity says Rangr additionally built-in interactive touchscreens into the designs of the assorted areas the corporate is constructing out round NYC. The touchscreens are designed by Gravity to assist customers regulate and monitor their car’s charging as they wait amongst the light-filled picket automotive cubbies and check out to determine if the plant decor is actual or pretend. 

Providing standardized and simplified tools was an enormous concern for Cohen, as properly. He says the present mannequin for public charging tools in most instances consists of an amalgamation of software program, {hardware} and fee processing that aren’t very properly built-in. Gravity has labored with an unnamed manufacturing accomplice to consolidate these segments and create a extra seamless consumer expertise, and that features what’s taking place on the again finish of the cost, in accordance to the corporate. 

Gravity’s first website will accommodate about 22 quick chargers, three intermediate chargers and some sluggish chargers. All of the quick chargers are up to 180kW, which signifies that even when two autos are plugged into one set up, every plug can do 90 kW of vitality. Cohen says something under 80 kW isn’t really quick charging, and most of the firms that declare they provide quick charging are actually solely able to put out around 62.5 kW. Cohen additionally says by sending that present by means of 400 amp charging cables, even smaller volt batteries like these in Teslas can obtain greater than 80 kW. 

The intermediate chargers use about 24kW to 30 kW tools and cost automobiles inside one to three hours. The sluggish chargers cost in a single day or inside six to eight hours utilizing 11 kW tools. 

Many of the parking spots will probably be taken up by Gravity’s fleet of Tesla Model Y yellow cabs, which can cost in a single day, says Cohen. Bringing a fleet of electrical taxis to NYC was truly the impetus behind constructing charging infrastructure. Cohen has a gentle spot for the yellow cab as an establishment and needed to come up with a approach to give it a Renaissance. He acquired the greenlight from Tesla to lease the autos for this use case and labored with town’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to change the principles so a Tesla might be seen as a taxi earlier than setting out on the more durable process of how to cost the fleet. 

“I talked to all the major charging equipment companies, and I quickly realized that there’s no charging equipment that is set up for charging fleets, and I realized the extent of the problem,” mentioned Cohen. “We started thinking about infrastructure because the model just does not work without infrastructure and a yellow taxi using a model Y requires high levels of utilization and scale.”

In May, the TLC approved Gravity’s pilot program, and Cohen mentioned the company is going to launch an MOU to proceed this system throughout the subsequent few weeks. In the meantime, Gravity desires to ramp up putting in tools at scale in order that it might probably then develop its fleet.

“People think of mobility as this drain of cash and nobody has figured it out,” mentioned Cohen. “I actually think that mobility and infrastructure are going to get solved together, and you’ll be able to make margins off utilization that are generous.”

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