For those wondering about electric vehicles, Josh Aviv wants to alleviate one of the biggest concerns: range anxiety.
Electric vehicle owners and prospective buyers get nervous when they worry that their electric vehicle won’t have enough battery power to reach their destination. What if instead of looking for your car, you could call someone to pick you up and charge your car wherever you are?
That’s the idea behind SparkCharge, Aviv’s Somerville, Massachusetts-based startup founded in 2017. The company makes portable his battery charging units that can be delivered to your doorstep or wherever your car needs charging.
“Choose the time, location, vehicle, desired range, and it’s just a push of a button,” says CNBC Make It. We can deliver energy.”
There are now more electric vehicles on the road than ever before. 6.6 million units will be sold in 2021, double his previous year’s total.
But a May 2022 report by Ernst and Young, which surveyed more than 13,000 people worldwide, found that range anxiety and concerns about the availability of local charging stations are still keeping people off the EV bandwagon. are the top two factors of
Aviv’s idea has gained a lot of support. SparkCharge has raised nearly $30 million from investors including Mark Cuban, Tale Venture Partners and the rapper his Pusha-T. In 2020, Aviv pitched his SparkCharge on his ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The show saw Cuban and Lori Greiner team up to acquire his 10% stake in the company for his $1 million.
The investment now values SparkCharge at about $110 million, Aviv says. The company has already secured partnerships with major brands like Kia Motors, Hertz and Uber, and he expects to bring in $10 million in revenue this year, Aviv adds.
SparkCharge subscribers in 121 US cities can schedule charging appointments with the click of a button.
If you don’t subscribe, you can still claim a one-time charge of $39.99, and the company promises delivery within 90 minutes.
Either way, whether it’s parked at your home, office, or anywhere else, a technician will bring a portable Roadie charging unit to your car. According to SparkCharge’s app’s FAQ page, the service cannot be called if the car stops on the side of the highway.
You don’t even need to meet a technician in your car as long as you have access to your car’s charging port.
Aviv says the Roadie unit can deliver up to 100 additional miles of range within two hours when charged at a rate of about 1 mile per minute. The service can only charge a car to his 80% capacity, so SparkCharge relies on convenience that’s worth the tradeoff.
Subscription packages range from $5 to $30 per month. At the cheapest tier, you pay $0.69 per kilowatt hour (kWh). That price drops to $0.51 per kWh for the most expensive subscription.
The average cost of 16 gallons of gasoline today is about $50, according to AAA. Charging a 40 kWh EV battery to 80% capacity would cost him as much as $22.08 at SparkCharge’s highest advertised rate.
“We can cover the whole city with energy”
Aviv came up with the idea of mobile EV charging in 2014 while studying economics at Syracuse University. During an environmental economics class, his professor said to the room: “If you want to solve big problems for the world, solve electric vehicle infrastructure problems,” recalls Aviv.
The professor invited students interested in challenging him to meet after class.
“I was the only one who saw him,” says Aviv.
The portable charging system idea eventually brought Aviv into Syracuse’s Blackstone LaunchPad innovation program. In 2017, he received his first financial backing, winning his $4,500 in a college startup his pitch contest and building a prototype Roadie charging unit.
A year later, SparkCharge won $1 million in the annual pitch competition hosted by technology accelerator 43North.
The company will spend the next few years finalizing the Roadie design, with deliveries starting in mid-2021. This year, we plan to provide customers with battery power equivalent to over 1 million miles.
Aviv hopes to expand to more cities in 2023, including San Diego, Phoenix and New York City. The company’s mobility allows it to expand to new cities in a matter of weeks, he adds.
“We can be up and running in cities in less than 14 days,” says Aviv. “We can cover the whole city with energy.”
This story has been updated to reflect that non-subscribers can request a one-time SparkCharge reservation for $39.99.
Disclosure: CNBC exclusively owns the off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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