Rheinmetall Curb Charging - New Solution for Smart Cities?
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The Rheinmetall curb chargers blend into the urban space almost invisibly, offering a solution to the challenges posed by existing charging systems, such as large space requirements, low point density, aesthetic downsides, and high cost. Unlike other charging solutions on the market, the Rheinmetall approach makes intelligent use of existing urban infrastructure. By integrating charging electronics into the curb stone, it becomes a de facto ‘charging pole’, but without the drawbacks conventional pole-type charging stations cause for other road users. The CurbCharger is encased in a sleek and robust stainless steel/aluminum housing and is capable of charging 22kW AC. In addition to roadside charging, various other potential use-cases can be addressed. These include charging at employer parking facilities, in residential settings with single family homes or apartment buildings, or at business parking lots.

Needless to say, any change based on innovation needs time to filter through and it requires persistence. While curbside charging might sound like a great idea in theory, several skeptics have mentioned the potential risks such as these chargers being easily vandalized, dust and dirt ruining the charging solution or the need to explain to EV drivers what the curbside charger really stands for. To counter these potential negative experiences, Rheinmetall partnered with several institutions and cities in order to subject the solution to a tough field test.

Various Pilot Projects in the Cologne Area

At the end of April the company, together with the municipality of Nörvenich as the initiator and Westenergie AG as the energy and infrastructure provider, started a pilot project to trial curb chargers on the municipality’s public roads. The aim of the project is to integrate and pilot the curb chargers developed by Rheinmetall at two different locations. The municipality is located within the catchment of the Cologne metropolitan area and is rural in nature with around 12,000 inhabitants. The partners worked together to find suitable areas within the municipality that were both highly frequented and had the necessary network infrastructure. Two locations were selected for this pilot and a civil engineering company carried out the essential connection and civil engineering work for the project within a very short time frame.

The integration of the electronic module into a curb utilizes existing infrastructure and facilitates the installation of charging infrastructure even in places where it would not normally be possible to install a charging station. A second pilot project started a few days ago together with TankE GmbH and the city of Cologne. Climate change and climate protection, mobility, a growing population, economic change and digitalisation will confront the city of Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city, with the diverse challenges of an expanding metropolis in the upcoming years. The city is desperate to actively shape this process, and needs to catch up with other European cities when it comes to charging infrastructure.

The MOTION team will take a closer look when visiting the Rheinland next, and we’ll report about the feedback from some of the users. Watch out for it.

Image credits: Rheinmetall AG, Düsseldorf

“We are delighted that the municipality of Nörvenich has seen the value of our solution and has set things in motion to be one of the first to pilot the systems in public areas. Our curb chargers, which seamlessly blend into the streetscape, help to solve a major problem as we move towards more electromobility on a wider scale. Charging infrastructure needs to be available to everyone across the board, easily and reliably.”
Christoph Müller, Division Manager Power Systems, Rheinmetall.