Last week EV charging startup Elby left stealth mode. We have taken a look at their solution, and the combination of very low-tech and smart solution they have found to make charging in cities actually work – and a business model for those living in there.

The solution is simple: charge the car with a cable from apartment buildings, but hide the cable in a special ‘sleeve’ in the pavement. This simple solution removes the need to draw new permanent cables, or to install special charging infrastructure – and enables their unique business model.

We talked to the team behind it, and got some questions about how it works answered from co-founder Martin Ferro:

How much power does the Elby charging system provide?

It will vary because we consider the building’s own needs first, and the power supply varies from building to building. However, we expect to offer an average of 11 kW.

Is there enough power in most apartment buildings?

Probably, if you’re referring to a multi-story building. They typically have excess capacity that is rarely used. Especially at night when residents are asleep, and during the day when they are at work, there is extra capacity for things like charging electric vehicles. That is the capacity we want to enable for charging cars.

How long does an installation take?

The actual installation work takes only about an hour, if everything runs smoothly, which is the part we are proud of. But there might be some steps to complete first, such as permission from the municipality to modify the sidewalk, and a check with the utility company about the existing power supply. After the installation, a certified electrician will connect the charger and install a separate electricity meter.

Is Elby approved in all cities?

We are now launching in Denmark, and here it depends on each city, as they are different. Elby is approved in accordance with the AFI legislation, and our charger is located within the property boundary, i.e., on private property. Additionally, the modification to the sidewalk is minimal, much less than a rainwater gutter, which is standard ‘road equipment’ across most sidewalks.

How much can a house owner or apartment owner earn from letting others charge from their building?

The more they charge per week, the more of the revenue we share. Up to 60 % of it. Let’s say a building charges 210 kWh in total on a given week. That’s e.g. 3 cars of 70 kWh, or 7 cars of 30 kWh. That will bring the building to a maximum revenue share of 60 % (50 % when Elby pays for the charger). In Denmark this will amount to 13.104 DKK per year. But this is just the beginning. Right now there are only about 6 % EVs in Copenhagen and that number will get closer to 100 % by 2030, so the business will grow, especially for the building owners who support the green transition now by installing Elby.

How has the response been since the launch now? Are you planning to enable this outside Denmark soon as well?

Overwhelming. It was a fairly small launch where we mostly targeted our Danish home market. But I’m happy to say we’ve received interest from all over the world, such as New York, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Stockholm as well as cities in Denmark outside Copenhagen. We’re happy to work with people anywhere the cities are ready to leverage Elby as part of their EV infrastructure mix.