Despite the best efforts of automakers, climate activists and even the president, the adoption of EVs faces some roadblocks. Setting aside the steep upfront cost, widespread EV adoption would require a massive network of expensive charging stations that simply doesn’t exist yet.
In February, the White House granted states $5 billion over five years to build that infrastructure. But there could be a cheaper solution if we just look up.
On Thursday, sustainable last-mile delivery provider gofor partnered with San Diego-based PI Energy to pilot a solution that would allow EVs to be charged using sunlight. As the newest member of PI Energy’s Pilot Deployment Plan, gofor will literally wrap its vehicles in solar panels to turn anywhere under the sun into a charging station.
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“We believe PI Energy’s technology can provide new ways of improving our delivery performance for our customers, which makes our business even more sustainable and efficient, while also lowering the total cost of ownership for EVs,” said gofor CEO Ian Gardner.
“Charging electric vehicles with surface integrated solar [photovoltaics] allows us to drive further and cleaner while reducing the necessity and frequency of having to recharge the EV while it’s on route doing a delivery,” he added.
The goal of PI Energy’s Pilot Deployment Plan is to commercialize the company’s proprietary tech. The solar panels that will be installed on gofor vehicles are powered by photovoltaic cells, which generate energy when exposed to particles of light. The cells are outfitted to a layer of ultrathin silicon to make the solution lightweight, low-cost, flexible and easy to install.
By charging directly through solar power, gofor is effectively creating an invisible infrastructure for EVs. Using sunlight rather than charging stations would extend the range that an EV can travel, decrease battery wear, and lower charging and operating costs.
“We are thrilled to partner with gofor, which is leading a better and cleaner way of providing sustainable delivery services,” said PI Energy CEO Phil Layton. “The company’s participation in PI Energy’s Pilot Deployment Program will advance our collective goals for improving the performance and energy efficiency of EVs by providing onboard power generation that is lightweight, nontoxic, flexible and easy to wrap on most vehicles.”
For gofor, the partnership with PI Energy is just the latest sustainability initiative. The Ottawa, Ontario-based company, which serves over 120 metro areas across the U.S. and Canada, has swiftly positioned itself as one of the leaders in sustainable logistics with its flagship Renewable Delivery offering. Launched in September, the service is carbon-negative, meaning gofor’s vehicles actually remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit.
More recently, gofor partnered with Germany’s Odin Automotive in March to deploy over 3,000 of Odin’s EVs in the U.S. and Canada, making it one of the first “eFleet-as-a-service” providers in North America.