ZipCharge reveals EV charging hubs packing suitcase-sized powerbanks
Late last year, UK startup ZipCharge announced the development of a suitcase-sized powerbank on wheels for charging electric vehicles. Now the company has revealed its next idea, a modular charging and storage hub called the GoHub.
First up, it should be noted that the Go powerbanks are not yet in production. ZipCharge expects the pre-order window to open later this year, with outright purchase and a subscription model already on the table. With the introduction of the GoHub, the company is looking to add a rental option too.
The base GoHub platform will be available in two variants, either able to sandwich into a regular car-parking space at a shopping mall, business park or a paved area at the center of a community. The single-sided unit will house five Go powerbanks for EV drivers to hire whenever the need arises, kind of like the battery-swap stations from the likes of Gogoro. A double-sided module will double powerbank availability.
A driver would book the rental through a mobile app, and the hub's bay door would open on approach so that the Go powerbank can be disconnected from its charging dock and wheeled to where the electric car is parked to plug in and top up.
Each Go is home to a 4, 6 or 8-kWh battery, and once the powerbank has given its all, the driver will receive a notification via the app and the unit can be unplugged and returned to the hub for recharging before being made available to the next customer.
ZipCharge has announced a simple pricing structure where each 4-kWh top-up will cost a dollar, with no additional connection fees applied. Obviously a single Go powerbank won't be enough to juice up an EV's battery completely, but the company reckons it could add up to 20 miles (32 km) of range – which might just be enough to get drivers home in a pinch.
The GoHub itself will be built using plant-based composite materials, glued-laminated timber (glulam) from FSC-certified sources and recycled steel from scrapped ICE vehicles. As well as a home for EV powerbanks, ZipCharge sees the GoHub serving as a community Wi-Fi hotspot, harvesting rainwater for the green roof or sporting solar panels or mini wind turbines. They could even do double duty as a charging/hire point for ebikes or electric scooters.
The GoHubs will need connecting to the grid, but are also designed to contain a built-in 100-kWh+ energy storage system that makes use of second-life batteries, and will include end-of-life Go batteries down the line for a circular approach while also potentially helping with grid balancing.
"The Go and the GoHub are integral components of our future energy platform, one that combines hardware, software and distributed energy storage in the home and our public energy points to provide a wide range of energy services for our customers," said company co-founder, Richie Sibal. "We will use technology to solve the inequality that exists around access to charging and energy by placing a ZipCharge Go unit within five minutes’ walk of where people live and park."
It's an interesting idea, and future charging infrastructures will very likely need to include a mixed bag of innovative solutions to meet the needs of different EV users in our electric transport future. And ZipCharge is looking to get in early, setting itself an ambitious target of deploying 100,000 GoHubs around the world by 2030. The video below has more.