Access to charging stations is one of the stumbling blocks for America’s proposed electric vehicle future. Missouri-based EOS Linx found a way to combine its work in advertising, security, data analytics and renewable energy into an interesting package that could quickly boost EV drivers’ charging options.
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They’re pairing charging stations with 75-inch screens that will advertise stuff to people charging their cars — and even passers-by. Expect these charging stations to pop up at hotels, convenience stores and other businesses, starting with Atlanta, Chattanooga and Dallas. Inhabitat interviewed Jeff Hutchins, chief information officer at EOS Linx, about the company’s plan for its new charging and advertising network.
Inhabitat: What does the name EOS Linx mean?
Hutchins: Eos is the Greek goddess of the dawn, who opened the gates of heaven for the sun to rise. EOS “rose” in October 2020 through the linkage of separate business operations that each focused on a component of what is now the EOS integrated platform. By linking the various solutions, EOS is best positioned to maximize the rollout opportunities of the EOS Charge Station and support the growing need for EV infrastructure across the country.
Inhabitat: Who are the people who came up with the idea?
Hutchins: EOS Linx was founded by the collaborative efforts of Mike Mills, Dan Briggs, myself and Blake Snider. Each founder brought a unique perspective and established history from their respective business lines – solar energy, EV chargers, renewable investments and technology operations and integration. Together, EOS Linx leverages these partnerships and expertise to create new opportunities in the industry. We continue to evolve the vision as we roll out our deployment and learn from our end users. The primary goal of our approach is to drive improvement in the overall user experience.
Inhabitat: What kind of business partners do you have so far?
Hutchins: EOS Linx partners are industry experts in a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, digital out-of-home advertising, solar solutions, wireless connectivity and EV charging. We partner with organizations that demonstrate a similar vision and moral ethic committed to making smart community solutions available to everyone. EOS Linx has a robust channel program that encourages participation on all fronts – manufacturing, installation, operations, advertising, technology integration, loyalty program management and site acquisition. We believe that the fastest and most efficient path to a truly sustainable network will come from intelligent partnering and interoperability.
Inhabitat: How did you decide to start with building charging stations in Atlanta, Dallas and Chattanooga?
Hutchins: We have a very detailed analytical process where we evaluate every market based on dozens of factors, including economic development, innovation programs, market value, economic diversity, EV readiness, advertising value and many others. We perform analysis on each market, potential partners and each location to determine feasibility.
These three markets met our criteria and provided us with great partners and friendly utility programs. We found great anchor location partners, as well, with convenience store co-ops like the Lone Star Business Association Cooperative, Atlanta Retailers Association and Independent Buyer’s Co-Op. We are moving into two more markets in early 2022 that will be announced shortly.
Inhabitat: What percentage of the car charge is coming from your solar panel?
Hutchins: The digital out of home (DooH) advertising and all of the technology components are 100% solar powered. The only power that is coming from the grid is for the actual EV charging.
Our solar generation provides excess energy beyond what the technology components require, which augments the EV charging where possible. The amount will vary from site to site based on the environmental factors and orientation. In these early deployments, we are focused on gathering the data around power generation and utilization.
We will analyze that data and use it to become even more energy efficient and leverage energy storage on a larger scale. We have designed our units to be highly configurable and flexible to adjust the parts and pieces once we have this data. We believe in the utility companies and the services they provide, and we feel it is critical to work with them from both a business and a technical standpoint in designing a solution that provides the best possible experience for the end user.
Inhabitat: Please describe a person’s typical charging experience.
Hutchins: We want people to feel informed, safe and comfortable when they use our charging network. The EOS Charge Station is equipped with a universal adapter. Charge time varies based on location and the car itself – most stations are equipped with a high end 40amp Level 2 charger, while other locations have fast chargers installed.
We work with our site partners to understand their goals and install the best charger for the lifestyle of users and the use case of their specific location. However, since EOS Charge Stations are designed to be modular, an upgraded charger can be installed at anytime business needs change.
Inhabitat: Tell us about your missing children campaign.
Hutchins: The DooH advertising component included in every EOS Charge Station gives us the ability to serve the community with public service announcements, including our partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). One 15 second spot within each advertising loop (3 minutes) is dedicated to finding missing children in each market. Our team works closely with the NCMEC to quickly display any alerts received.
In addition to our partnership with NCMEC and other public service alerts, EOS Linx also runs an awareness campaign for Code Adam, a missing child safety program. EOS is proud to support the important mission of this organization and program dedicated to keeping children safe.
Inhabitat: How are EOS Linx kiosks different from other EV chargers already on the market?
Hutchins: EOS Charge Stations are modular – each key component can be upgraded/replaced quickly and easily as needed to meet evolving and changing market demands. This is extremely valuable as new demographics of users continue to emerge and EV charging technology changes faster than it can be permitted and deployed. We strongly believe this separates us from many of the other solutions. We are also very focused on the user experience and aligning that with the deployment location.
Inhabitat: How does EOS Linx make its money through the ads and data capture?
Hutchins: Our EOS Charge Stations are installed at no cost to our partners – including hotel and convenience store owners. We cover the capital cost, the installation, the operations and maintenance and the electricity. We believe that EOS Charge Stations should be turn-key and hands-off for our location partners. With an EOS Charge Station installed, property owners can provide EV drivers with added convenience and promote sustainability initiatives throughout their communities. We also offer the location partners integrated messaging through the screen and our mobile application. This creates economic value for both the location partner and the EV driver.
Ad revenue generated through the DooH advertising displays helps offset the cost of the installation and maintenance for the EOS Charge Stations. The DooH program provides EOS Linx with the tools to continue our mission of renewable energy solutions and ultimately helps support our nation’s ambitious EV growth targets.
Inhabitat: What else should people know about EOS Linx?
Hutchins: EOS Linx has been an evolving business for the last four years, and coalesced into its current form in 2020. The EOS Linx team and ownership group has a unique background in renewable energy, fund management and distributed implementations. This positions us well to take advantage of the current and future incentives and support the creation of “smart community solutions.”
We are also preparing to launch an app this year to enhance the EV user experience and foster a community (with economic benefits) for EV drivers. In addition to locating charging stations, the app will be able to share important aspects of EOS Charge Station locations (including safety and lighting) and encourage users to share their feedback. We want people to feel informed, safe and comfortable when they use our charging network.
Images via EOS Linx