Man behind Park City charging station sees big potential for electric vehicle infrastructure
Travis Eckert hopes a car charging station at the Park City Mall sparks the growth his one-man startup needs.
Eckert recently founded Charge Forward, a company he runs part-time in Elizabethtown. He unveiled his first big project, a solar-powered car charging station, last week at the popular Lancaster County shopping mall.
Eckert hopes to eventually offer his startup's services to other area businesses, either by installing similar stations or providing consulting work to help them connect with other installers.
Charge Forward represents a bit of a change for Eckert. He works full-time in finance with Wells Fargo and co-founded FinTech Meet, a company that connects people interested in financial technology.
Although Eckert eventually parted ways with the fintech company, he retained his entrepreneurial spirit. He started thinking about venturing into the world of electric vehicles about a year ago, spurred by a past job installing car electronics and an interest in renewable energy.
Park City, a bustling shopping mall next to a busy stretch of Route 30, was his No. 1 choice for locating for his first charging station. He hopes more will follow.
Although not the only car-charging station in the region, the unit at Park City is unique in that it is not connected to the electrical grid, Eckert said. Its self-contained design includes solar panels that follow the sun as it moves across the sky.
Charge Forward bought the station from a company in California. Eckert declined to say how much he paid but said it cost significantly more than typical grid-attached stations, which he said can run upward of $7,000.
Eckert plans to make money on the station through sales of advertisements to local companies. He is still seeking advertisers.
Because of the significant upfront costs, Eckert plans to limit installation of similar units to high-traffic areas with high potential to attract advertisers. He is ready to provide consulting work though for other businesses that might have an interest in promoting green technologies.
Although Eckert is not sure if Charge Forward will ever become his full-time job, he sees high potential for growth in the arena of electric car charging.
He is not alone in that belief. A recent Bloomberg report predicted that electric vehicles will account for more than half of new car sales by 2040. While most owners of electric cars charge at home, the need for public stations will likely grow alongside vehicle sales, according to another report.
"We need more infrastructure," Eckert said. "And we need it to be accessible and visible as soon as possible."