BMW i Ventures invests in HeyCharge to amplify EV charging rollout at residential locations; Y Combinator alum
13 January 2022
BMW i Ventures announced a lead investment in HeyCharge, the German start-up democratizing access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in apartment complexes, office buildings and other infrastructure locations. HeyCharge was in Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 batch of start-ups.
The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market in coming years will necessitate greater infrastructure build-out of charging solutions around the globe. HeyCharge is the first company to enable EV-charging without internet connection, which is a key enabler to cover untapped white-spots. With HeyCharge’s technology, it becomes attractive to install chargers in locations that before would have not been commercially viable.—Kasper Sage, Managing Partner, BMW i Ventures
Traditionally, EV chargers require an app or RFID card and a proper internet connection to begin activation. Yet most underground garages currently do not have an internet access point, or the ability to install such boxes. Chris Cardé, Founder and CEO, HeyCharge, recognized the problem with this traditional system and the opportunity to solve it after bringing his first EV home to a Munich apartment building. As the number of EVs on the road increases—by 2040, virtually every new car sold globally will be electric—there will be a large need for a scalable charging option that fits into consumers’ everyday lives.
With 56% of Germany and 46% of Europe living in apartment buildings, and 37% of renters in the US, this is an obvious next step for the expansion of EV charging stations, but the current reliance on internet connectivity is holding scalability back. That’s why HeyCharge has made its mission to help get a cheap, commercial, scalable solution to this section of the population.
HeyCharge’s patent-pending technology, SecureCharge, eliminates the need for an on-site internet connection. All SecureCharge-enabled devices will communicate directly over bluetooth with the HeyCharge App or SDK and provide maximum availability of the system while minimizing latency between the phone and the charger.
Instead of relying on an internet connection, SecureCharge relays cryptographic tokens through the mobile app to each charger, enabling a secure and bidirectional management channel for user access and billing data.
To ensure smart functions such as individual billing and remote maintenance, all data received from the charger will be synchronized with the backend once the smartphone has network coverage again. All time-critical activities will be performed immediately, allowing the app and chargers to communicate directly over bluetooth with the HeyCharge App or SDK. This maximizes availability of the system while minimizing latency between the phone and the charger.
When combined with Access Point, HeyCharge’s simple and effective hardware component, total costs can be reduced up to 80% in buildings.
In addition to our full wallbox, the HeyCharge Access Point is a bring your own wallbox device that places the bare minimum for access control and consumption invoicing on the building side, allowing for a fast and easy installation that can be made by any electrician in minutes.—Chris Cardé, Founder and CEO, HeyCharge
The HeyCharge team is an international blend, with a founding team that is 50% American and 50% German, along with the majority of engineers based in Kyiv, Ukraine. The company is backed by BMW i Ventures and startup accelerator Y Combinator.