Shyft Group eyes portable EV chargers for commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicle manufacturer Shyft Group is developing a portable charging system it believes will help fleets transition to electric vehicles without making costly infrastructure investments.

Shyft, which was formerly Spartan Motors, launched marketing of its Blue Arc Power Cube remote-controlled, portable charging station in July.

The Power Cube carries three megawatts of onboard power, enough to power six vehicles at once, according to the company.

It has fast-charging capabilities that the company says can charge passenger cars and all classes of commercial vehicles.

The new offering comes several months after the suburban Detroit commercial vehicle maker established its Blue Arc EV Solutions unit, which sells an electric chassis and a Class 3 electric delivery van.

As potential delivery van customers voiced concern over charging infrastructure, Shyft developed the portable charger to address their issues, said CEO Daryl Adams.

“We want them to buy our trucks, but if they don’t have a way to charge them, they’re not going to buy them,” Adams said.

That was particularly true for fleets that operate in rural areas, where EV infrastructure investments are lagging behind cities. It also is a problem in areas where the electrical grid is less able to keep up with large amounts of charging, he said.

But a portable charging unit would work well with fleet operations, he said. A company would charge the Power Cube during the day when its vehicles are making runs. Then it would charge the vehicles when they returned to base from their routes at the end of the day.

“They leave and come back every day. We know exactly what the range is,” Adams said.

Fleets would charge the Power Cube from the grid by tapping into a building, a generator or a light pole. Shyft also plans to offer optional solar panels or wind turbines. The concept is to create a flexible microgrid that requires no digging or trenching for a permanent underground connection.

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