If you’re looking for a place to put an EV charger, hotels probably take the cake. They attract millions of travelers who’ve driven long distances, they’re often ringed by hundreds of parked cars, and there are cozy places to chill right inside while you wait for your ride to get juiced.
Plano-based Universal EV Chargers doesn’t need to be tipped off to that idea. It’s a core part of their business strategy, and now it’s helped the company secure nearly $10 million in government green energy grants.
Universal announced the grants yesterday, saying they’ll help the hospitality industry and other businesses offer EV charging services “by defraying upfront installation costs.”
Universal has worked with hotels on solar panels
Hemal Doshi—the CEO of Universal EV Chargers as well as its parent company, Universal Green Group, which was founded in 2009—says his company initially charged up connections with hotels by installing solar panels for them.
“Hospitality businesses like hotels are excellent sites for EV charging stations because they’re located where people travel and offer multiple desirable amenities for EV drivers,” Doshi said in a statement. “We’ve worked with hotels extensively over the last decade installing their solar panels, and our understanding of their business models and operational needs has largely informed our strategy.”
The charging systems aren’t meant exclusively for key card-holding guests, Universal says. “The icing on the cake for hotels and other hospitality businesses is that EV drivers spend both time and money while waiting for their EVs to charge. Hotels may also find new guests in the future once they’ve experienced the hotel’s features,” the company said in a statement.
Landing the grants with a four-point pitch
[Photo: Universal EV Chargers]
Universal says it landed the federal grants in a competitive environment by focusing on its vision, design, price structure, and investment options.
First, it pitched its vision of contributing to the build-out of the country’s EV charging infrastructure to match key goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Then it showed how the design of Universal’s EV charging units “address the challenges faced by early EV adopters related to service, maintenance, ease of use, payment methods, charging time, and availability.”
Its price structure is based on the two units it offers: Level Two chargers and Level Three DC Fast Chargers, both of which Universal says “optimize quality and cost” across a range of areas, including transport, testing, and installation.
Finally, the company showed how it developed a wide range of investment options from a simple sale of its equipment—after which the hotel or business owns and operates the system and captures all revenue—to “full turnkey deals” with little to no expenses for qualified property owners. Under that scenario, Universal shoulders the upfront costs and offers maintenance and repairs in exchange for a revenue share with the site owner.
Getting systems up ‘quickly and economically’
“We won these green energy grants in competition with some of the largest EV charging providers in the U.S. because of our approach to solving common problems faced by EV owners,” Doshi said. “Thanks to the grants and our wide range of financial options, including a no-cost choice for qualified partners, hotels and other businesses will be able to install and operate EV charging stations quickly and economically.”
‘Approved vendor status’ at top hotel brands
It’s one thing to get the grants. Now Universal has to expand its business. The company says it has already secured “approved vendor status” for hotel brands including IHG, Wyndham, Marriott, and Hilton.
One other edge could help Universal EV Chargers’ case: It says it is the “the first North American EV charger provider” to be awarded testing laboratory certifications from Intertek and Underwriter Laboratories for its advanced Level Two charger.
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