Electric vehicles are growing in popularity as drivers look to more environmentally friendly forms of transportation, but one of the biggest issues holding back the industry is the lack of public charging stations.
Wilbert Precast in Spokane, Wash., saw that void and has come up with a remedy – adding chargers to the precast concrete light pole bases they are already making.
Darin Swan developed the plans after one of his employees came to him saying he’d like a place to charge his vehicle while he’s at work. Swan started looking at typical electric vehicle chargers and saw there was a problem that could be solved by using precast concrete.
“From a visual standpoint, they are typically on a metal stand or something like that where they can easily become damaged,” Swan said. “We started looking at drawings and integrated a blockout on the side of our light pole base. We’ve fashioned it in such a way that the car would hit the concrete before the charger so it protects the charger from damage.”
Since each electric vehicle has a different sized charger, creating the blockouts has been the biggest challenge in making the product, but Wilbert Precast has been producing the new electric vehicle light pole bases for about a year. They’re already looking at additional features for the bases like security cameras and sensor lights so people can see if a charger is in use.
Swan said there’s been a lot of interest from different parties in purchasing the precast units, and they are also researching where they would be best suited.
“The struggle is always informing electrical engineers and architects before they get too far along in planning,” he said. “We’ve done some marketing with places throughout the state, and we’re really trying to find those sites outside of towns so if people are on long road trips they have a place to charge their car.”