Groundbreaking portable EV charger now at advanced prototype stage

Pioneer in portable EV charging ZipCharge has announced that its Go portable charger is advancing to validation prototype (VP) stage with designs released for manufacture and hardware testing well underway.
Groundbreaking portable EV charger now at advanced prototype stage
Courtesy of ZipCharge.

The Go removes a common barrier to EV ownership – by bringing the possibility of home charging to anyone who can’t currently plug-in at their house. In the UK alone, 8.5 million or 40 percent of car-owning households are without designated or off-street parking. Elsewhere, this figure reaches 60 percent for example in Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea and in major cities in the USA, China and India.

ZipCharge is developing the Go using the same rigorous engineering processes as major car manufacturers. It is building several iterations of prototypes from validation through to pre-production, all of which will undergo an extensive testing regime. The company’s engineers are currently at advanced stages of lab testing the portable EV charger’s key system components, including the NMC lithium-ion battery cells and the ZipCharge-designed bi-directional AC-DC converter. This is to evaluate thermal behaviour, charging performance, safety, durability and full functionality to ensure a seamless and safe ownership experience for everyday charging.

The bespoke compact and lightweight bi-directional AC-DC converter utilises the latest high efficiency Silicon Carbide (SiC) semiconductors found in modern electric vehicles. When coupled with ZipCharge’s innovative software it will enable the Go to be charged at home, using a standard single phase supply in just over one hour. It can then be connected to an EV wherever it is parked and deliver 20 to 40 miles of range in around 30-60 minutes, depending on the capacity of the Go charger.

The Go is the first element of a planned global portable EV charging platform that combines hardware, software, and innovative ownership models to bring affordable, practical EV charging to more people in more places. In the near future ZipCharge’s portable EV powerbanks will create an intelligent energy management platform that provides flexibility and resilience for the national power grid.

Realising that widespread EV adoption would be hampered by the inability to charge near or at home, ZipCharge co-founders Richie Sibal and Jonathan Carrier identified and developed a solution. Using their decades of experience in automotive electronics systems engineering and product development gained at cutting-edge businesses including McLaren Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, Gordon Murray Group and LEVC – their answer is the Go. Now well into the development phase ZipCharge is on track to deliver the first models to customers early in 2023.

“Achieving this key milestone in the development of the portable EV charger is a major achievement by our small and dedicated team of expert automotive engineers” said ZipCharge Co-founder Richie Sibal. “Drawing on the team’s 170 years of experience in designing automotive electronic systems, including EV control systems, battery modules, power electronics, electrical architectures, functional safety and wiring systems, combined with significant expertise in CAD modelling and design has enabled us to progress from the drawing board to design release in under nine months.”

In tandem with hardware testing, the ZipCharge engineering team is also developing bespoke control software and a dedicated mobile application that will allow users to optimise the operation of the portable EV powerbank. This incorporates a suite of security features, including user authentication and the ability to remotely monitor, track and disable the Go charger from their mobile phone, anywhere, thanks to built-in 2G/4G connectivity.

Attention is being paid to the user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) between the hardware and software, with the aim of making charging with the Go as simple and intuitive as possible. The diverse needs of personal customers and fleet users are considered, to schedule charging, track usage and cost to charge, regardless if they have access to one Go charger or several hundred, the power pack is always ready when required.

This amount of control will generate significant operational and cost benefits for fleet managers who will be able to equip their fleets of electric cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) with portable chargers, enabling them to charge wherever they park. For fleets, charging with the Go adds range and means drivers don’t have to deviate their route to find the nearest charger. Back at the depot, fleet vehicles will no longer have to be repositioned use the fixed chargers. With the ZipCharge Go, the charger comes to them.

The mobile app is just the first component of a broader digital eco-system for the ZipCharge Go. The company is developing software tools that provide the user with intelligent control of charging and energy management, efficiently and at the lowest cost. This includes dedicated data dashboards for fleets to manage a suite of Go chargers, optimise deployment, monitor charging history while using the power of data to make intelligent recommendations that reduce operating costs and improve the total cost of ownership equation.

ZipCharge is also building in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its software stack, to learn user charging patterns, to make schedule recommendations and optimise charging to save money and reduce the load on the grid.

“Since our launch at COP26 in November last year, ZipCharge has received an unprecedented level of interest from potential customers around the world” added ZipCharge Co-founder Jonathan Carrier. “They immediately see the benefit of the Go portable charger to deliver low cost, convenient charging anywhere they park. We’re already in advanced discussions with a number of large corporate fleets and listening to their requirements, along with product suggestions from our enthusiastic prospective customer base. This feedback is invaluable as part of ongoing development of our hardware and software, such as novel operating controls, safety features, and auxiliary power generation. We are committed to launching a truly ground-breaking product in the Go, one that meets the needs of a range of customer groups, and how they would like to use the Go. This includes private individuals, fleets and end-destinations, such as hotels, retail complexes, supermarkets and leisure activities – all locations where the ZipCharge Go can provide flexible, convenient and low-cost charging for everyone, anywhere they park. We expect to confirm final pricing later this year in Q4 2022 as part of the pre-order process. Our mission is to democratise EV charging, which means the ZipCharge Go will be competitively priced and comparable to the purchase and full installation cost of a fixed home charger.”

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