December 7, 2023
By David Gordon
With advancements in the EV batteries reducing range anxiety, electric vehicles are becoming more popular for a multitude of reasons. And with automotive and battery manufacturers committing to the technology, the trend has gone mainstream. This is further amplified due to climate concerns and government funding to accelerate EV charging deployment to further mitigate range / charging anxiety.
Years ago a number of electrical manufacturers, and purpose-built charging companies, offered EV chargers. Due to the vehicles having limited range, the initiative failed.
Tesla led the charge (pun intended) to minimize range anxiety through a better quality battery and deployment of its fast charging system. This investment led to today’s environment.
Today EVs have improved. While they make up only 1% of cars on the road, consider that this is 2 million vehicles! Last year, EV car sales in North America grew 48%.
It’s a “trend” that will only grow, especially when being supported by state and federal government initiatives such as the IIJA, Inflation Reduction Act, tax incentives and government regulations.
MaxLite, a leading lighting manufacturer, last month introduced an EV charging relationship, and offering, as it expanded its product offering. Upon receiving their press release, I reached out to Stephen Mitchell, Vice President of Business Development – Energy Solutions, with questions about this new relationship and why a lighting manufacturer is expanding into EV chargers.
MaxLite’s Press Release
“MaxLite, a leading provider of energy-efficient lighting solutions, is excited to announce its partnership with Lynkwell, a pioneer in EV software, to introduce EVMax+, a comprehensive Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) solution that integrates both software and hardware. This partnership highlights MaxLite’s commitment to supporting the growth of electrification in the United States, while continuing to serve its ESCO, contractor, and distributor customers.
“What makes this partnership significant is our commitment to delivering a vertically integrated Buy America compliant EV solution. EVMax+ is designed to deliver the exceptional service MaxLite’s customers expect, while supporting diversity spend through MaxLite’s MBE certification,” Stephen Mitchell, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for EVMax™
Spencer Bolgard, President and CEO of MaxLite, added, “The introduction of this new growth category not only strengthens our existing relationships but also sets the stage for forging new alliances. Many of our esteemed customers are at the forefront of national electrification endeavors, and it is our privilege to provide them with a trustworthy EVSE solution.”Spencer Bolgard, President and CEO of MaxLite
Jason Zarillo, President and Co-Founder of Lynkwell, remarks on the collaboration, “We started Lynkwell with the goal of raising the standard of EV charging solutions. Our partnership with MaxLite elevates that standard even higher and allows us both to accelerate the implementation of critical EV infrastructure.”Jason Zarillo, President and Co-Founder of Lynkwell
In collaboration with Lynkwell’s software, EVMax+ will soon launch a BAA compliant 48A (amperage selectable) Level 2 commercial charger, complete with essential features and accessories. The offering provides customizability at every stage, from inception to post-installation, ensuring seamless uptime and meticulous pre-install planning.
Regarding the product offering, Umesh Baheti, MaxLite’s SVP of Product Management and Engineering, shared, “Our objective was clear – to provide a differentiated charging solution with unparalleled service and reliability that meets the needs of various market verticals.
Entirely based in the US, Lynkwell has been an industry leader in providing EV solutions since 2016. They were a great choice when MaxLite was looking to expand our offering.”
EVMax+ also fulfills all prerequisites to take advantage of available rebates, reinforcing its overall market appeal. For more details visit EVMax.maxlite.com, connect with a local EVMax/MaxLite representative, or reach out to the EVMax team at EVMax@maxlite.com.”
Why EV Chargers from MaxLite?
As mentioned, I reached out to MaxLite and asked some questions. Here’s their feedback:
Why is a lighting company offering EV chargers?
Participating in the rapidly growing EVSE market creates the right adjacency for a lighting company to leverage channel relationships and provide its customers with energy management solutions under one umbrella while diversifying its revenue streams. In many respects these businesses are quite synergistic. Energy saving from LED lighting retrofits and controls help reduce energy load which then can be used to offset the need to power EV chargers. From a channel standpoint, many value stream partners such as the ESCO’s (energy service companies) and distributors are common, and those partners are already participating in the EV infrastructure space.
Lighting companies are familiar with Utility incentives and now can holistically assist their customers navigate the rebate landscape for EV chargers as well. From a technology standpoint it also presents the opportunity to create unique differentiated smart solutions in the future. For MaxLite, who has been in the lighting industry for the past 30 years, entering the EVSE space is a good next step to further augment its commitment to bringing sustainable solutions to its diverse customers. True to form, MaxLite® is doing it differently by partnering with an existing dedicated and vertically integrated EVSE company in Lynkwell.
How should lighting specifiers think about EV chargers? Is this an opportunity for them?
Given the nascent nature of this evolving industry, the established influencer models will need to be tested. Specifiers can play an instrumental role by leveraging their relationships with building architects, engineers, electrical contractors with the right training on EVSE chargers. However, with good understanding of features and benefits of hardware, software and serviceability, Specifiers can help the end-user design and build the right solution.
What do specifiers, contractors, and distributor need to know to consider specifying EVMAx+™ powered by Lynkwell?
MaxLite® has partnered with Lynkwell to create EVMax+™ to provide an EV charger with a high level of quality and service and loaded with a tested Lynkwell software program and many features to differentiate from competition. Lynkwell is a company founded by two entrepreneurs who previously operated in the ESCO space. They recognized the increased demand for EV charging as an opportunity to expand their product offering for lighting and controls companies.
As LED retrofits increased, the energy savings now available could be sold to EV drivers for an added amenity and revenue stream for the site owner. Lynkwell now serves as an easy one-stop-shop with everything needed to meet the needs of the funding programs, the site hosts, and the EV drivers using the stations, which includes US-based software development, solutions, and 24/7 customer support.
What are the key Differentiating Selling Points for EVMax+™ Powered by Lynkwell to support the “WHY EVMax+™?”:
- EZ-Swap Faceplate create a fast and efficient way to improve uptime when a station is down
- We offer a “lifetime” warranty on the hardware when the “Pro” software package is purchased
- “Future Ready” cable management system that can be added at any time
- MaxLite is an MBE, so when installing EVMax+™ customers can count toward their diversity spend goals as well as take advantage of municipality MBE requirements
- EVMax+™ is BAA compliant product assembled in New York State
- “Private Charging” customized software option eliminates the need for RFID cards which are challenging to manage
Who is Lynkwell? How long have they been in business?
Lynkwell brings together all the pieces needed for seamless EV charging design, deployment, management, and service. Operating since 2016, this complete, vertically integrated solution is unique within a very fragmented industry and provides customers with much needed accountability across all elements of deployment.
- Lynkwell is entirely based in the US, including 24/7 US-based customer support.
- They offer one of the largest catalogs in the industry, with over 500 products available to suit every project type and customer need.
That is why, at a high-level, they describe themselves providing the following:
- They are product leaders, providing EV infrastructure, energy, and mobility solutions.
- They are true partners: make it easy to design and deploy EV infrastructure.
- They focus on experience: make it easy for MaxLite to launch their own custom branded EV charging experience.
What is they benefit of being Buy American Act compliant? What types of projects and buyers is this most important to?
Having Buy American Act compliant charging solutions lets the end customer know that the charging equipment has been built in the USA and includes increasing percentages of US parts over coming years. This is important for all customers to consider for the obvious reasons surrounding product quality.
The less obvious reason, which is even more important, is security. Governments, utilities, fleets, and others look at their charging stations as critical infrastructure and they do not want to take the chance that an overseas entity could be monitoring, altering, or hacking their ability to charge vehicles. This is where Lynkwell has the ultimate solution: software fully developed and managed in the USA paired with BAA hardware.
Is the product offering all L2 chargers? What are the targeted vertical markets?
Our core offering, at the moment, will be L2 chargers but through our partnership with Lynkwell we will also be able to participate in L3 solutions in the future. We will be focusing on C&I focused markets to name a few – workplace, multi-family, fleet, universities, schools and national account retail customers
Why EVMax+™ powered by Lynkwell chargers vs. the plethora of other chargers on the market?
- Lynkwell took its years of experience facilitating deployment of thousands of EV chargers and channeled that insight into a software solution that truly meets the needs of today’s dynamic EV users and operators.
- Lynkwell provides an open software platform, allowing for integration with other APIs and business intelligence platforms. This data feedback loop can provide critical insights into performance, efficiency and optimize user experience.
- The Lynkwell software and user experience can be customized based on the unique need and request of the customer.
- Lynkwell provides critical station management, data dashboards, driver and operator notifications, pricing controls, load management, fault notifications, and 24/7 station and network monitoring.
Here is additional information on specific highlights of the Lynkwell software platform:
- Customized EV experience: take advantage of years of industry research with our pre-configured white-label solutions. Go from zero to launch in 60 days or less, working alongside seasoned industry professionals.
- Extendable REST API with Real-Time Data Sync: need something even more customized? Lynkwell offers a complete REST API that you can use to build a completely custom user experience.
- Prebuilt Payment Integrations: the system comes complete with industry-standard PCI-compliant payment integrations from day one. Whether you want to process one-time payments or utilize monthly accounts, we’ve got you covered.
- Easy-to-Use Management Tool Suite: over the last five years, we’ve built the tools our team uses daily to manage thousands of charging stations. Now you have access to the same ones.
What is MaxLite’s EVMax+™ powered by Lynkwell post sale / post install support services?
- EVMax+™ by MaxLite will utilize Lynkwell’s existing internal support infrastructure. Lynkwell supports the activation and maintenance of customer’s EV charging stations. The cloud system provides station monitoring, fault notifications, and 24/7 US-based customer support services to the EV drivers and site host. This system provides everything necessary, including OTA (over the air) updates, driver access and billing options, seamless API integrations, and remote and on-site support options.
How many EV stations are deployed with Lynkwell software? What states?
Lynkwell software is active in close to 7,000 charging stations utilizing its backend, , spread out across 28 US states and territories and Canada.
What should contractors know about Lynkwell software? Installing chargers? Recommending EVMax+™ powered by Lynkwell chargers? How can they learn more to promote to their customers? How does the software get updated?
- More information about the EVMax+ can be found at evmax.maxlite.com.
- More information about the Lynkwell platform can be found at www.lynkwell.com
Is Lynkwell software part of a charging network?
- Lynkwell is a charging platform which can be utilized as a network or custom branded as a customer’s network.
Is the charger compatible with the Tesla charger so it can be used with most vehicles going forward?
- EVMax+™ offers access to multiple charging systems which includes all types, power, and cable options – including the NACS (North American Charging Standard) plug.
- Distributors need to consider all of the offerings in the marketplace and decide which ones to actively promote while knowing what their other manufacturers offer. Promotion and selling can be two different things. The key is monitoring the market as there will be continuous product advancement.
- The BABA aspect of MaxLite’s offering can be huge and a major selling point.
- EV chargers represent an opportunity for distributors not because of the value of the EV charger but the opportunity for the remainder of the bill of material (BoM), which frequently exceeds the value of the charger.
The EV opportunity is not going away. Becoming a trusted, and knowledgeable, EV charging resource for your contractors, and end-users in your marketplace, can be a differentiator and perhaps can be used ass a demand generator if properly marketed within the local community.
David Gordon is publisher of US Lighting Trends, our sister magazine in the U.S.