charge BIG!

- the charging infrastructure for electric fleets

chargeBIG is a corporate start-up from MAHLE and, as the name suggests, it’s a system for charging electric vehicles on a large scale. By making available an intelligent, low-cost charging infrastructure, up to 100 vehicles can be charged at once—or maybe more!

At the start of 2019, 5.6 million electric cars were in operation worldwide—a rise of 64 percent in comparison with 2018. (Source: ZSW) This means that the rate of growth is accelerating, yet the appropriate charging infrastructure is still not in place. Until now, that is. As part of a start-up program “powered” by MAHLE, a team of four had a groundbreaking idea—and chargeBIG was born. Since then, the team has gained two new members and has been actively supported by various specialist functions within the MAHLE Group.

The objective of chargeBIG is to reduce bottlenecks in the power supply and provide a low-cost yet extensive charging infrastructure for fleet operators and drivers who leave their cars in a parking lot all day .

“On average, a car is driven only 40 kilometers per day. That means it’s standing still for around 23 hours. So, there’s no rush when it comes to charging it!” This is why the motto of chargeBIG is: “Charging as quickly as necessary is better than charging as quickly as possible.”

The charge big team

from left to right: Dr. Walter Krepulat, Sebastian Ewert, Raphael Höll, Max Gerstadt, Nicole Heinrich und Leonid Berngardt

How the intelligent charging system works

The chargeBIG charging concept for single-phase AC destination charging with charging outputs of between 2.3 and 7.2 kilowatts comprises a central, intelligent control unit with permanently mounted cables and connector plugs instead of charging columns in the parking lot. Thanks to the intelligent charging system and design-to-cost approach, there is no need to invest in expanding the network connection, resulting in substantial cost and time savings during the development of the charging infrastructure.

A central control unit distributes the available charging capacity across the parked vehicles using dynamic, phase-specific load management. This prevents unbalanced loads in the power supply. chargeBIG responds flexibly to other consumers on the network and uses the electric vehicles as a controllable load. This ensures optimal utilization of the available power supply.

“The bottlenecks in the charging process are caused by spikes in power delivery rather than the energy that is actually available. We use intelligent load distribution to take advantage of this situation,” explains Sebastian Ewert, head of project management Europe at MAHLE and a member of the chargeBIG team.

There are two other benefits: The chargeBIG solution is more convenient to install and look after than alternative systems as the charging points can be maintained very easily via the central electronics. The charging points are also de-energized when they are not in use—a clear advantage from a safety perspective.

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The concept’s advantages

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  • chargeBIG makes use of existing connections to the power supply—resulting in considerable time and cost savings
  • Twice as many electric vehicles can be charged using chargeBIG than with existing charging solutions
  • Positioning the components in one central location minimizes maintenance costs

For more information >> chargebig.com

Ideal for e-parking lots with 20 to 100+ spaces

The concept is ideally suited to an application with around 20 to more than100 electrified parking spaces and is infinitely scalable—the perfect solution for locations with a large number of electric vehicles that are parked for long periods of time, such as businesses, airports, and park and ride schemes.

Stuttgart Airport in Germany was quick to recognize the potential and has already opted for MAHLE’s smart, low-cost solution for the electrification of its employee and vehicle fleet parking spaces. It’s now installing 110 charging points in conjunction with chargeBIG and MAHLE’s partner, eliso.

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