Nexii Building Solutions Inc. and Siemens Corporation have unveiled an EV charging prototype, the VersiCharge XL, which is patented for charging large numbers of electric vehicles in outdoor environments.
From ideation to implementation, the prototype took only six months to develop. It was installed in only three days at Siemens’ research & development hub for electrical products and eMobility solutions.
Siemens and Nexii had first announced their corporate partnership in September 2021 as part of Nexii’s integrated technology partner program. The partnership began as a way to integrate Siemens’ technology into commercial buildings but quickly switched focus to EV charging.
“We started working on a prototype for electric fleet charging that would leverage Nexii’s materials; a low-carbon material for structure and Siemens’ charging technologies, specifically their (Sentron Busway) which moves high voltage and amperage to chargers,” said Gregor Robertson, Nexii’s executive vice-president and the former mayor of Vancouver.
The charger components
The structural material is Nexiite — Nexii’s more sustainable version of concrete. It is poured and cast into panels in the same fashion as traditional concrete but contains no Portland cement, lime or adhesives.
This, combined with off-site modular manufacturing and quick assembly on-site, results in significantly less embodied carbon. It can be used anywhere from small office building parking lots to a football stadium.
A busway is a prefabricated electrical distribution system. The busway power distribution equipment is manufactured at Siemens’ 540-person manufacturing hub in Spartanburg, S.C.
For the new charger, the infrastructure is cast directly into the Nexiite. Due to the charger’s above-ground and modular nature, on-site construction waste, excavation, and groundwork — such as tearing up parking lots — are all mostly avoided.
“We see the big opportunity to electrify fleet parking lots at large scale,” Robertson said. He noted this would assist with meeting government targets for EV vehicles and charging capabilities.
“The infrastructure needs to be built. But we can build it faster by using above-ground technology that’s also lower carbon and enables the end-user to more readily move the charging units whenever needed.”
Commercialization to occur quickly
Robertson stated the plan is to have the VersiCharge fully commercialized later this year. The chargers are currently manufactured in Squamish, B.C., Moose Jaw, Sask. and Hazleton, Penn. with more plants to be determined.
The prototype had such a rapid development thanks to “leveraging existing technology that already works really well together.” However, Robertson also said both companies anticipate more technological advances for the chargers in the months ahead as production is optimized for the market.
“I’m proud of the work being done with our partner Nexii and our team in Georgia, a state-recognized as a growing national hub for electrified transport innovation,” said John DeBoer, the head of Siemens eMobility, North America, in a statement.
“We are continuing to develop and deploy the infrastructure that will enable our country to embrace EVs at scale. Technologies like this system are proof a nationwide EV network isn’t out of reach, and we’re helping make it a reality.”
Other collaborations between the two companies will be announced later and in 2023. Siemens won’t be Nexii’s only partner in the EV market shift.
“Nexii will continue to innovate and develop lower-carbon and non-toxic materials to accelerate the transition with all our infrastructure from buildings to chargers,” Robertson said. “We’ll keep working with the best partners we can find to help move faster.
Nexii was founded in 2019 in Moose Jaw but is now headquartered in Vancouver.
Nexiite panels have been used in industrial, commercial rental units, single-story commercial buildings and retrofit projects, high-performance envelope systems and residential buildings. One such example is from February 2021, when a drive-thru Starbucks in Abbotsford, B.C., was constructed in six days using Nexiite.
In September 2021, it became the fastest Canadian company to hit unicorn status, meaning a valuation of $1 billion or more in less than 31 months.
Siemens Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG. The company focuses on intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems and automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. In fiscal 2020, Siemens Group USA generated revenue of $17 billion and employed approximately 40,000 people serving customers across the States and Puerto Rico.