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Area entrepreneur seizes on growth of electric cars

PowerCharge is a Moser branded product manufactured in California. (Courtesy of Michael Moser)

PowerCharge is a Moser branded product manufactured in California. (Courtesy of Michael Moser)

A 30-year career in the automotive industry naturally led to the creation of a multifaceted startup for Michael Moser.

“I found myself out of a job in my 50s and decided to start my own business, something I’d always wanted to do,” said the president and founder of Moser Services Group LLC. “I’ve always been up for a good challenge.”

In 2010 Moser started MyFleetDept—a fleet management company that offers maintenance and repair management, risk management and vehicle acquisition and leasing—out of his house. He saw where the market was headed and decided to get his feet wet distributing electric vehicle charging stations through another dba, EV Charge Solutions.

Michael Moser is president and founder of Moser Services Group LLC. (Courtesy of Michael Moser)

Michael Moser is president and founder of Moser Services Group LLC. (Courtesy of Michael Moser)

“What really accelerated that was I was able to buy out a distributor who wanted to get out of the business,” Moser said. The company sells charging equipment from 10 manufacturers.

Two years ago he was able to move the company from his home to an office and warehouse in Bloomfield, Ontario County, and recently Moser founded PowerCharge, a division of Moser Services and a sister company to EV Charge Solutions.

PowerCharge sells and installs commercial charging stations capable of charging electric vehicles 50 percent faster than traditional charging stations. PowerCharge is a Moser branded product manufactured in California.

In the couple of months since Moser began selling the branded charging stations, the company has experienced a good deal of success, he said.

“I’m busting at the seams now,” Moser said, noting that two years ago he was the firm’s only employee. Now he has five.

What differentiates the PowerCharge unit from others are its capabilities.

Electric vehicle charging units have three levels. The first level is a slow charge using a standard, 110-volt outlet. The second level plugs into a 220-volt outlet, like an electric stove or dryer would. Within the second level, an electric car could be charged faster or slower, depending on the amperage.

A typical second level charging station could have between 16 and 100 amps. The industry standard is a 30-amp charging station, which would charge about 20 miles of driving range per hour of charge. Nearly all of the public charging stations in downtown parking garages—which Moser supplied—use 30-amp stations.

The PowerCharge station, however, is offered in three different amperage ratings, including 16, 30 and 40. At 16 amps, a car would charge at about 10 miles of range per hour, while at 40 amps the charge increases to 30 miles of range per hour, a 50 percent faster charge than the traditional 30-amp stations.

But the charge rate is limited by the size of the onboard battery charger in the vehicle, Moser said. The charging station is not a battery charger, he explained. It is just a safe way of delivering power to the battery charger that is built into the vehicle.

“So your cars with smaller batteries, like the plug-in hybrids, they typically have a smaller, onboard battery charger that, in most cases, a 16-amp charging station is going to maximize the charge rate,” Moser noted. “The industry is moving toward bigger batteries and bigger onboard chargers, so we’re getting a lot of requests for that heavier 40-amp charging station, because people want to future-proof their investment.”

With just a few higher amp charging stations on the market, Moser is garnering a lot of attention from commercial customers and electrical contractors, the bulk of his clientele.

Local electrical contractor, Billitier Electric Inc., uses Moser for its fleet management services, as well as its charging stations. Billitier has installed roughly 20 stations locally, said company Vice President Matthew Pfeffer.

“Car charging is somewhat new around here; it’s not as big as on the West Coast,” Pfeffer acknowledged. But the industry is growing, he said, and Moser offers competitive pricing and good service.

Billitier has installed stations at Nazareth College of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and Bausch & Lomb Inc., he said.

“Some of our other customers have really been asking about them a lot,” Pfeffer said. “I would suspect that as the cars get more affordable we’ll probably be doing more of them for our customers.”

To further differentiate his company, Moser’s PowerCharge system does not require the end user to join a proprietary network to pay for charging, and that has proved advantageous for the local company.

In most cases, a public charging station is associated with a network that drivers have to join in order to pay for their charges, similar to the New York State Thruway’s EZPass. And because there are so many proprietary networks, EV drivers are forced to join quite a few in order to guarantee they will be able to use the equipment when they pull in.

The PowerCharge is different.

“Our payment system has a credit card swipe,” Moser explained.

A residential charging station runs between $250 and $700, Moser noted, while a commercial station runs $1,500 to $7,000, depending on features. EV Charge Solutions sells between 3,500 and 4,000 units annually, while in its first two months of business, the PowerCharge has sold roughly 50 units.

In addition to his electrical contractor customers, Moser has seen an increase in sales to the hotel industry, multi-family dwellings and a number of local renovation projects and new construction including Pinnacle North in Canandaigua, Tower 280 downtown and the renovated Sibley building.

But the company has grown nationally, too. Last year Uber Technologies Inc. was Moser’s biggest customer, and the company has sold some charging stations to contractors for projects at Google Inc.

Moser said the company likely has the largest inventory of charging stations in the country and he learned early on that he can sell a lot more product if he has it in stock. The plan worked.

“I felt 2017 was going to be our breakout year, and it’s proven to be. We’re 3.5 times our revenue year-to-date over last year,” Moser explained. “We see the industry continuing to grow.”

vspicer@bridgetowermedia.com / 585-653-4021

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