Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Profile: 350Green and the Future of American EV Networks

350 Green works with municipalities to develop charging
networks for electric vehicles in their areas.

Charging station infrastructure demands can lead to US Manufacturing jobs
Recently I wrote about the lack of a national charging infrastructure being a key obstacle to more widespread interest in use of EV’s like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.  Private companies like Walgreen’s and Ikea are taking the first necessary steps to make this happen, planning to build Level Two charging station operations on the premises of their stores.  This is a much-needed step in the right direction, but it’s also a drop in the bucket when you compare it to just how much of an “American highway system” there is, and how many stations need to be in proximity if we’re all going be able to stay on the road with lightning in our respective fuel tanks.  
In order to get a better gauge on how all this can feasibly happen, I decided to interview 350Green (you can learn all about them on their website, , a company founded in Washington DC in 2006 and now based in San Diego, California that develops charging networks in urban areas all around the country.  If you’re looking for who’s “on the floor” of the transition from gas stations to electric-based recharge centers, it doesn’t get any better than these guys.  Mariana G, a spokesperson for the company, answered my questions:

Me-       -I am particularly interested in who you work with in both the manufacturing of
EV chargers as well as the installation. Do you do this on your own or do you
facilitate between other companies?  And if so, who?”
Mariana- “We are equipment agnostic and work with several manufacturers.  We always bring and install the best equipment that is available on the market.  We’ve been installing [from] AeroVironment and will be announcing other manufacturers shortly.”

Me-       -“Where is the equipment usually made?  Do you import the parts and then
assemble them here?”
Mariana-“Most of our contracts require [parts and products] to be made in America.  We work with manufacturers that have the ability to manufacture in US.”

Me-       Do you see charging infrastructure and its need for EVs
to thrive as potential for job growth in construction or some other industry,
like retail (considering what Walgreen has just announced)?”
Mariana-Infrastructure will definitely spur [growth] in the job market, 350Green is hiring installers, engineers and managers.  Our retail partners, subcontractors and suppliers are hiring as well.  The job demand goes further than just the EV industry, and reaches solar, steel, copper, software and many other industries.

Me-       “Are there any ways in which the typical urban/suburban landscape will adapt in
reaction to charging infrastructure that may not have been anticipated in design
and research stages?”
Mariana- There are many theories out there on how the market will adjust to infrastructure.  I would imagine one of the hypotheses will eventually prove right.  I doubt our crystal ball is better than everyone else's, so we keep a close tab on the pulse of the consumers and will react to whatever [the] market dictates.

That last part is what we’re all skittish about.  For all the presumptions and hope that this kind of infrastructure makeover will trickle down (up?) to other sectors and industries unseen, they’re just that: unseen.  But all the pieces for a growing industry that will create economic opportunity seem to be there with 350Green: they’re part of several supply chains, specialize in areas with a massive number of potential consumers, work with many different industry sectors like construction and engineering, and the best part: most of their contracts are homegrown.  This is a system that’s truly localized.  Hopefully, companies like 350Green keep improving their networking systems and we wind up reaping the benefits in the near future.  It sure sounds like they’re onto something!

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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