Zeem Solutions is doing something different when it comes to electric vehicles. It is providing a complete product of vehicles, chargers and associated services, such as maintenance and parking.
“We are the first group that is doing this with actual chargers in the ground, with a meaningful fleet and customers that are utilizing the services today,” said Paul Gioupis, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Inglewood-based company.
Zeem’s first location — others are in the works — is in Inglewood, a mile and half from Los Angeles International Airport. Its two depots are on land that cover 3.1 acres and are a few minutes walk away from each other.
For a monthly fee, Zeem’s customers get it all – access to 74 electric vehicles from four manufacturers with more on the way; charging stations; and the ability to carry out service and maintenance on the vehicles.
“We store spare parts and have overnight parking to prevent theft and vandalism and any other concerns that come with an expensive piece of equipment,” Gioupis said.
The company offers trucks ranging in size from class 2 light-duty vehicles up to class 8 tractor trailers. By bundling all the services and taking on all the real estate costs, plus the expenses of the charging infrastructure associated construction costs, Gioupis said his company can compete with diesel fleets.
“That monthly fee provides us with a nice cash-flow margin that is profitable within 18 months of opening up a location,” he added.
Gioupis declined to disclose Zeem’s revenue figures.
LAX was chosen as the first location for a depot for a simple reason – that is where the demand will be for electric trucks and vans. There are some 300 companies that have been qualified to use the depot, with a total fleet size of more than 10,000 vehicles, all within a five-mile radius of the airport. A qualified company is one that Zeem has determined is a good candidate for its services, based on a number of questions, including the make, model, year, and volume of the fleet; whether they are running routes that are 150 miles or less; and whether they are ready to make the switch to electric vehicles.
Gioupis said Zeem is targeting two customer types. The first are operators looking to electrify their fleet of trucks and vans.
The second are rideshare or cargo operators who are outside the five-mile radius of LAX but who come to the airport on a regular basis.
“That’s a whole separate customer base that comes in and charges throughout the day,” he explained. “They might want to come in for an hour or two.”
The LAX depot currently has about 20 charging stations available – 12 fast-charging stations and eight so-called Level 2 stations, which are slower. When it is complete, the depot will have the capability to host 77 fast-charging ports and 53 Level 2 units. At its full planned capacity, which should come in the first quarter of next year, the LAX depot will be the largest private commercial EV charging facility in the United States, Gioupis claimed.
The Depot Model
Zeem was founded in 2018 by Gioupis and a business partner who has since passed away.
“We gathered data and information for the first few years which led us to the depot model, which is why we didn’t get started until recently,” he said.
The company currently has seven active customers at the LAX depot. They began using it in December.
“We literally have hundreds (of potential customers) that are lining up across the nation asking us to open up in different geographies,” Gioupis added.
Kami Farhadi, owner of Starline Tours of Hollywood, called the depot an important resource that will allow the tour company to offer its customers an experience in Hollywood and Los Angeles while gliding along in a zero-emission vehicle.
“We love the convenience and access to low-cost charging and fleet services, especially as we adjust to driving electric,” Farhadi said in a statement.
Helping to further Zeem’s expansion is a $50 million investment it received recently from private equity firm Arclight Capital Partners. The Boston outfit specializes in clean-energy companies.
Arclight has an equity stake in Zeem, and two of its partners joined the company’s board of directors.
Gioupis said that Arclight decided to invest in Zeem because it sees that the company’s team can scale its depot model acrss the United States.
“We think this is the critical piece of getting a $50 million investment at this stage of where we are growing the company,” Gioupis said.
While Zeem currently operates 74 trucks and vans, Gioupis said it is still in the early stages of product development, as there are not many companies producing electric trucks at a large scale.
There are three companies that Zeem has bought from that Gioupis said he could name. The fourth company has not been publicly announced yet.
The three companies are SEA Electric in Torrance, which produces a class 5 truck; GreenPower Motor Company Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga, which is a big part of Zeem’s fleet in airport shuttles around LAX; and Maxwell Vehicles in Inglewood, which retrofits electric vans.
Large amounts of cash have been invested in manufacturers of electric trucks recently. One such company is Xos Inc., an Atwater Village-based firm that went public in August of last year after a merger with NextGen Acquisition Corp.
“There is an active investment market right now looking at EVs, looking at commercial EVs, looking at the charging infrastructure and battery storage and everything in between,” Gioupis said.
Zeem is the perfect platform for every single vehicle manufacturer that is trying to build an electric truck, he added. The compay has the charging capability to manage hundreds of vehicles, and every depot that Zeem opens will have the capability to manage hundreds of trucks and vans overnight, he said.
“That is very meaningful to know and shows how disruptive we are going to be for this market.” Gioupis explained.