Charging Ahead: A Conversation with EverCharge Founder Jason Appelbaum

In this candid interview with Jason Appelbaum, founder and CEO of EverCharge, he reveals the roots of his inspiration to create the company, dives deep into the nuances of EV charging levels, and provides a clear perspective on the rapidly evolving EV charging industry landscape. Appelbaum’s journey in the industry began with a personal need, and over the past decade, he has steered EverCharge from being a solution for charging needs in condos and apartments to catering to large fleet environments, like Avis rental centers and even venturing into single-family homes.

A champion of Level 2 charging, Appelbaum predicts it as the future’s primary method of EV charging. He discusses the company’s SmartPower technology, a differentiator in the industry that allows real-time, dynamic on-site load management, driving cost-effective solutions without the need for expensive and lengthy infrastructure upgrades. As more players enter the EV charging market, he sees the total cost of installation and operations as a driving factor and a massive opportunity for infrastructure growth.

Excited about the recent developments with General Motors and others joining Tesla’s Supercharger network, he deems it a win for the customer. Appelbaum also talks about EverCharge’s acquisition by SK group and the subsequent scale-up of operations. The interview wraps up with his vision for the future of EverCharge – a continued focus on fleet environment, expanded product lines, and extended installation teams. This insightful conversation with Appelbaum offers a comprehensive overview of the challenges, growth, and future prospects of the EV charging industry.


What year did you start the company, and what was your inspiration behind EverCharge?

EverCharge was founded in 2013 out of necessity for my own electric vehicle charging needs. I lived in a condominium then, and I had just purchased an electric vehicle in 2012. Going through the process of getting charging in my condo garage was extremely challenging. So I opened up the electrical room in my small 30-unit building, found that there was no power to be had, and then set out on the process to essentially build out the necessary infrastructure, understanding the costs and hurdles, and figuring out very quickly that it is just not trivial to put electric vehicle charging into the condominium. So, EverCharger was born out of my personal need.

Can you go into more detail about the company, what the priorities are, and the focus?

EverCharge was founded on the idea of providing electric vehicle charging for condos and apartments. Since then, over the last ten years, we’ve found many similar challenges in the fleet environment. And that fleet environment has led to acquiring customers like Avis.

You have a huge number of vehicles with an in and out flow, and you have a long enough dwell time to be interesting from an infrastructure perspective, where you don’t need dedicated power at all times. And you can use intelligent load management and a set of rules to end up with a cost-effective solution, which is EverCharge’s specialty

And we recently, as a completely separate note, announced our COVE  product targeting single-family homes. So we’ve added single-family homes to the mix to support, but ultimately EverCharge is primarily a high-density charging application company, focused on condos, apartments, fleet, and workplace. There are many cars, and you have a little time to charge them.

There’s a lot of talk about Level 3 charging. Do you see that there will always be a need for both Level 2 and Level 3 in the future?

I think the primary charging method for most vehicles, if not all vehicles, will be Level 2. Level 3 is a filler in between on long road trips. And in the fleet environment, sort of a gap filler because you need a quick way to top up a vehicle, not a primary means of charging. There are a few reasons for that. First, the infrastructure requirements are extremely expensive for Level 3; second, it’s not very good for the battery. And it’s just overall not a great experience for the driver if you have to wait 30 to 40 minutes for a charging session.

Most people sleep eight hours a night, and businesses don’t like to deliver packages at two o’clock in the morning, so in the cases where downtime is available, which is most cases, it’s better to charge up overnight with Level 2.

Level 2 Charging

Is Level 2 charging the perfect solution for fleets?

When you don’t have enough dwell time at the stations, and your downtime is not significant enough, Level 3 is the best path forward. But the longer dwell times are where you get to take advantage of the huge infrastructure and cost savings provided by EverCharge’s technology. The entire company’s built around load management and smart infrastructure investments. So with that entire system in place, you take the most advantage with the longer dwell time systems of Level 2.

Tell us about the SmartPower technology that you all have. This seems to be a differentiator.

That’s exactly what I was referencing, which is SmartPower – our patented, proprietary technology that is built directly into our stations and operates on a wireless mesh network, allowing for seamless, instantaneous communication within the charging ecosystem. SmartPower capitalizes on available electrical capacity to allocate power in real-time. When a car finishes charging or decreases its charging rate, the system dynamically re-allocates power to the other charging stations. By more efficiently managing power, electrical capacity requirements are reduced – directly lowering costs while significantly increasing the number of stations a location can support.

There’s a number of charging companies joining the market., Is this beneficial for the industry, or will it cause too much confusion for the consumer?

I think the industry is still in its infancy. We’re growing extremely fast, but I think there will be substantially more players than there are right now. I’m not so worried about confusion in the market. I think the better, larger players will come out ahead in the specialized use cases where you need substantial infrastructure. After all, it all comes down to cost.

At the end of the day, we’ve been building technology and processes to drive costs down. And I think that people who continue to grow their businesses will find that cost will be the number one driving factor. And I don’t think we’re looking for a race to the bottom so much as we are cost-smart or cost-sensitive solutions to build out the infrastructure we need for tomorrow.

I don’t think we will end up in a situation where we have too many players because the amount that must be built out is virtually infinite. If you look at the number of gas station pumps we have today versus the number of charge handles, charging is only scratching the surface of its potential scale. And because we’re in a paradigm shift where you have these gas pumps where people drive to them, fill up, and leave, versus installing it where they park, the number of charging stations will start to look like the number of vehicles. And we’re only at a couple of percent penetration for electric vehicles. So it’s going to be a very large buildout.


What are your thoughts on the recent news of Ford and others joining Tesla’s Supercharger network?

It’s great for the customer. It’s a lighter handle. I think it’s more robust. And I think that because it’s an L2 and L3 combined into one handle, you end up with a better form factor in the L3 and an even better form factor in L2. There are functional disadvantages to both J1772 and CCS; coalescing around NACS will allow the industry to move past those persistent flaws. And to see Ford support it and then to see the others follow suit so rapidly is just fantastic. I think it’s better for the industry.

I don’t think that Tesla developed its charging port design just to be different. The Model S, the first vehicle they produced with this style of port, predates J 1772  and CCS. Those standards came later, and their designs were driven more by the impulses of engineers than the need of users. NACS is a customer-oriented design, a customer-oriented application. So we should be very mindful of that. EverCharge has worked with NACS since 2013. We’ve delivered products with NACS connectors, and we’re excited to see the industry moving that way. 

Do you foresee that it will become the standard? Is there any reason why someone wouldn’t adopt the standard?

I think there are people out there who are hesitant to adopt the standard because Tesla controls it, but that’s starting to change. SAE and Tesla have now reached an agreement for SAE to formally standardize NACS and open it up to broad stakeholder input so that argument no longer holds water. And I would like to see everybody in the industry move forward.

Ever Charge was acquired by the SK group. Is that correct?

That’s correct, and it’s changed the scale at which we do business. Changing from a small startup in the Bay Area to being part of a multinational company has been a step change, and it’s helped EverCharge reach a whole new level.

What’s next for EverCharge? Where do you see the company next few months, next few years?

We’re going to continue to grow and expand our installation teams. We will continue to expand our product lines and push even harder into the fleet areas with new applications and new product offerings specifically tailored to the fleet environment. It’s going to be fleet and more fleet for a little while.

Click HERE to learn more about EverCharge.

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Brian Hagman

Brian Hagman is founder of Hagman Media, with platforms including The BRAKE Report, The EV Report, and Self Drive News. Brian is also President of Hagman Search, a recruiting firm supporting organizations in the Braking, eMobility, and Automated Driving segments.