- ChargeWheel on Tuesday announced $1 million in seed funding for its solar-powered, on-demand mobile charging trailer for bike and scooter fleets and personal electric vehicles (EVs). The funding came from Right Side Capital, and an additional funding round is expected to close later in 2019.
- The company will provide a fleet of trailers that can simultaneously charge up to four EVs or 400 electric bikes and scooters with DC fast charging speeds. The company plans to deploy 100 trailers in San Francisco by the end of the year.
- Drivers or fleet managers will be able to lease ChargeWheel trailers or purchase subscriptions.
Even as drivers purchase more EVs and electric micromobility fleets proliferate through cities, charging infrastructure remains limited, leading to bike and scooter fleets like Bird and Lime relying on contractors to collect and charge their vehicles.
Not only can that be cumbersome, but the cost of driving around to pick up vehicles cuts into the companies' sustainability pledges, especially if the vehicles are powered with diesel chargers. Installing permanent chargers can require permitting and expensive construction, especially on commercial lots, limiting the availability of chargers and making it more difficult to use electric vehicles anywhere in a city.
ChargeWheel seeks to combat that by simply parking solar-powered vehicles in lots around San Francisco. Their CEO Huzaifa Muhammad said he sought to provide "the infrastructure for charging electric micromobility fleets without any sort of physical infrastructure," in an interview with Smart Cities Dive.
Once the trailers are parked, Muhammad said they work similarly to existing subscription services like ChargePoint, where subscribers can simply plug in to an open charger.
The company will start in San Francisco before expanding to the rest of California, since the state has a high concentration of EVs, as well as mobility companies and funders that could be partners.
The funding interest shows the viability of businesses that are springing up around the micromobility boom, which has grown faster than anyone could have predicted. Companies like San Diego-based ScootScoop, which collects discarded scooters to clean up sidewalks, have shown the economy around the new vehicles — ChargeWheel hopes to fill another gap in support of the mobility movement.