Supercharging the economics of electric vehicles – December 2011 Update

Since completing the 2009 NVBC competition as one of 10 finalists, REV Technologies Inc. has moved from an unheated shack with a leaking roof to a heated and custom-renovated 8,000-square-foot office in Vancouver.

REV entered the competition with four unpaid employees and a new product — REV Pack — an electric drive system for transforming gas-guzzling fleet vehicles into electric zero-emission vehicles.

Since then, the company has grown to 16 employees and moved on to develop a server-based network and software system that it hopes will ultimately manage the stored energy of millions of electric vehicles (EV).

Founder Jay Giraud likens it to smart metering for electric vehicles. REV’s real-time wireless network will manage the battery energy of fleet vehicles, aggregating and returning their unused battery energy back to the energy grid to smooth out the grid’s frequency spikes.

“Utilities themselves have huge fleets with very consistent drive patterns,” says Giraud. “This allows us to predict and optimize their energy use, using patent-pending algorithms, so that with real-time forecasting we can have 10,000 vehicles in a city as an aggregate source of energy. The utility would see these 10,000 vehicles as a single power plant.”

Giraud says that grid operators would pay REV for having the fleets’ EV batteries on standby, able to respond instantaneously to sudden changes in supply and demand. This could potentially return $2000-$3000 a year per vehicle, part of which would go back to the fleet owner.

“These savings would enable commercial fleets to adopt electric vehicles sooner,” he says. “We’re supercharging the economics of electric vehicles.”

REV has just completed a small four-vehicle pilot with a U.S. army base and has just been awarded a new contract for more vehicles that are fully networked and able to store renewable energy and then re-dispatch it into the army base’s micro-grid.

To date, REV has realized over $1 million in sales of its original REV Pack and its networked power-management system to the US Army via Honeywell Aerospace and SAIC, as well as to the City of Santa Monica and Burlington Hydro.

“In 2012 we’ll be continuing with new pilot projects, with vehicles running on our network,” he says. “More on that to be announced.”

REV has attracted just over $2 million in funding and is currently engaged in a series A fundraising, seeking $5-10 million from institutional investors in order to finish developing the network technology, build out the market and partnerships and round out the management team.

While there are only about 25,000 electric vehicles in the U.S. at present, predictions call for more than 100,000 by the end of 2012.

By 2020, says Giraud, electric vehicle networking is expected to be worth $40 billion.

“We’re developing for a market that doesn’t exist yet,” admits Giraud. “We’re skating to where the puck is going.”

Where are they now? Quadrogen’s new biogas system cleans up in California