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Local Startup Looks to Give Electric Cars A Battery Boost

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

With the growth of electric vehicles nationwide, one Arlington startup is looking to solve what could be a common problem: the need for extra electricity when not near a charging station.

Electric Feel works on the same principle as a portable battery bank that can charge a cell phone. Its energy storage device holds about 5 kilowatts of power, which translates to about 25 miles per charge for an electric vehicle.

Company founder Farah Brunache has been designing her storage device for over a year, and said she was inspired by driving an electric car herself but not using her apartment complex’s charging facilities every night.

“That’s when I realized I needed to look hard at when I was able to reach my destination that following day, and that’s when I thought of the concept of doing a partial charge, which is basically what my device does,” she said. “I essentially started the business to fill in the gap of needing to partially charge your vehicle.”

Currently, the storage device Brunache is designing weighs around 20 pounds, which she said “sounds super heavy.” She said the design is still in the early stages so she used standard batteries, but in the future hopes to cut the device’s weight in half to 10 pounds or less.

“I like to tell people it’s similar to how people carry their bikes to work,” Brunache said. “You’ll ride with it, and it’s not heavy then, and then when you’re going to transition into a building or lock it up, then yes you have to lift it. It is weighty but manageable.”

Right now, Brunache said her goal is to start shipping the product at the end of this year or the beginning of next to begin beta testing. Those interested in helping test the device — and Brunache said there has been a lot of interest — can sign up online. The process of working out how to manufacture the product is ongoing.

“It’s still being tested, and I’m speaking to these different manufacturers to get a better understanding of what a minimum order would need to be,” Brunache said. “Right now, I’m working on starting beta testing, getting feedback and working on final design changes. Throughout that process, I’ll gather a list of individuals interested in testing, so then it can help set expectations of manufacturing.”

Given the growth of electric vehicle use both in Arlington and nationwide, and the additions of charging stations at apartment buildings, parking garages and stores, Brunache said her device can help fill a growing need.

“One of the things is electric vehicles, the way that we as drivers use them, we always need electricity, just like in life, kind of like how we always need water,” she said. “It’s a resource we’re constantly needing. I definitely see this as something that will be loved by the masses, especially as more electric vehicles get on the road.”

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