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New player launches into the New Zealand electric vehicle charging market

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Just launched, Hikotron’s EV charging stations are now available for public use at Waikato Innovation Park. A locally designed and manufactured smart charging solution, Hikotron has bold plans to roll out this technology throughout New Zealand.

The Hikotron EV charging station design is based on learnings from proven European AC Type 2 socket infrastructure, with further high-tech improvements including two pending patents that address common EV charging infrastructure pain points. Hikotron is vertically integrated from design and manufacture through to post implementation support allowing for rapid response in rollout and maintenance, as well as continuous R&D and an investment that remains in New Zealand.

Like many Kiwi’s, Hikotron’s co-founders Ron Smits, Stephanie Smits O’Callaghan and Lawrence Muijlwijk found themselves returning to New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic and brought with them experiences from Europe and as EV owners. They quickly identified a gap in the local EV charging market and this opportunity along with a passion to support the acceleration of EV use across New Zealand saw them develop the technology using their combined experience and knowledge.

“What struck me immediately was that while there was desire for EV ownership in New Zealand, the infrastructure required to support this is lacking and focuses predominantly on fast DC charging in an attempt to replicate the legacy petrol model of ‘filling up your car’ when empty. Having lived in London and travelled throughout Europe as an EV owner, I learned that a range of charging options both slow and fast, and a greater number of them, along with the ability to charge your car where it is normally parked, offers convenience for EV owners and is the best use of New Zealand’s electricity grid. We shouldn’t try to fast charge our way to mass EV adoption.” Ron says.

As an engineer, Ron and his business partners set out to design and manufacture their own solution, utilising state-of-the-art technology to roll out an AC charging network that would enable EV owners to travel from destination to destination with the confidence that they can charge their vehicles upon arrival.

Waikato Innovation Park was a natural choice for the first location, as it is a hub for technology and innovation businesses, providing the best facilities for the business community, and having this state-of-the-art technology available at the park was a no-brainer for operations manager Catherine Clark.

“We have just completed our newest build, with planning and construction underway on a series of other buildings. With more businesses relocating from outside of the Waikato and utilising the Waikato as a hub for business, supporting electric vehicle charging on-site is just another one of the ways Waikato Innovation Park keeps business moving” Catherine says.

Hikotron chargers are operated through a mobile application which enables users to locate the charger, start and stop the charge, monitor how much power is being drawn while charging and make payment. The users can use the same mobile application for all the chargers on the Hikotron public network.

Hikotron chargers can dynamically load share on sites with limited power, will include booking systems, ability to schedule charging times, and load shedding/balancing ability which the grid will require when EVs move into mass adoption. In addition, all Hikotron chargers’ onboard software can be updated and supported remotely over the air.

Hikotron is a user-provided cable network, which allows ultimate compatibility for vehicles and avoids being susceptible to damage and other safety issues associated with tethered cables. The cable is locked in place, meaning it cannot be removed or tampered with during your charging session.

Hikotron is working with developers, businesses, and other organisations with strong interest around the country, starting in Waikato. They have sites planned for a range of locations around the region that will go-live early 2022.

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