Today's Paper Sports Obits Tablet Help Time Tour Podcasts Public Notices Classifieds Newsletters Puzzles Crime HER Contact us Jobs

WATCH: Plugged in: Local entrepreneur charges into EV market

by David Showers | June 16, 2022 at 4:05 a.m.
EV Charging Solutions CEO Skylar Keller shows off his Blink charging station Tuesday at Baymont by Wyndham Hot Springs On the Lake. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

According to AAA, the average price of gas in Hot Springs has risen 65% in the last year, but Triston Steed doesn't bat an eye when he drives past a gas station.

"I don't even look at gas prices; it's not a thing anymore," he said.

Forsaking hydrocarbons for electrons can make one indifferent to surging fuel prices. Steed traded his heavy-duty diesel pickup for a Tesla Model 3 earlier this year.

"Electric power is unlike anything," he said. "Once you ride in one and experience it, it's absolutely unbelievable. I don't see me owning anything that's gas powered."

A prohibition on the sale of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines is being considered by about a dozen states, a paradigm shift dependent on building out the country's electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Skylar Keller hopes to be on the leading edge of the build out.

The CEO of EV Charging Solutions, Keller's Hot Springs-based company is an authorized Blink Charging dealer. The Lakeside graduate has deployed several Blink chargers at local hotels. On Tuesday, Steed plugged his Tesla into the 80-volt, Level 2 charger Keller put at Baymont by Wyndham Hot Springs On the Lake.

A full charge is about $15, a fraction of the $80 to $100 Steed said it would cost him to travel 300 miles with a gas-powered engine. A regular Level 2 can impart a full charge in six to 12 hours, but Keller said his are much faster.

Video not playing? Click here

"These are the fastest on the market," he said. "It will charge a vehicle in two to four hours. It's perfect for hotels, Airbnbs, apartment complexes."

Keller owns and operates the chargers at the Baymont, but his company also sells and services them. He said he's negotiating long-term leases for parking spaces at about a dozen other local hotels.

According to Plugshare, the electric car driver's app, there's more than a dozen EV charging stations in the Hot Springs area, but Keller said some are better than others.

"We're trying to make sure we have quality infrastructure for Hot Springs," Keller, 24, said. "There's a lot of cheap chargers. We're shooting to deploy the highest-quality infrastructure on the market. That's why we go with the Blink 80-amp chargers. These are the best of the best, and that's what we want to bring to Hot Springs."

He and Michael Santa Maria, the company's executive vice president of sales, have designs on the $54 million in EV projects Arkansas is eligible for through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, a component of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Act Congress passed last year.

"We're hoping to be the biggest player in Arkansas for that," he said. "They're going to deploy DC fast chargers along all the major highway corridors."

Steed's Tesla is more evocative of a sporty compact than a brazen muscle car, but its performance belies its appearance. The electrons that flow from its battery deliver immediate torque, sending the 4,000-pound car from a standstill to 60 mph in three seconds.

"It's a really fun car," Steed, 24, a salesman at a local auto dealer, said. "The second I hammer the pedal, it powers all wheels instantly. The acceleration you feel is incredible. It makes no noise either, so it's not obnoxious."

At $65,000, Steed's Performance Model 3 is cost-prohibitive for many drivers, but he and Keller said prices will come down as EVs gain market share. Steed said Keller, whom he befriended at National Park College, will be well-positioned for the EV takeover.

"What he's doing is super important," he said. "In a couple of years, everyone will be dependent on (charging stations)."

  photo  A Tesla Model 3 recharges Tuesday at Baymont by Wyndham Hot Springs On the Lake. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record
  photo  A Tesla Model 3 sits near a charging station Tuesday with its frunk open. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

Print Headline: WATCH: Plugged in: Local entrepreneur charges into EV market


Sponsor Content