Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
February 26, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

MarsCharge brings EV charging solutions to Chattanooga’s Sustainable Mobility Accelerator

It took a lot of miles to get Michael Marczi to Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is excited to participate in the inaugural cohort.

Michael Marczi

In the second week of January, East Tennessee experienced historic snowfall. People across the region were snowed into their homes, businesses closed, and the streets were covered with a sheet of ice. Most people stayed home and avoided the roads, but Michael Marczi braved the conditions in his cross-country drive.

“I made it almost 2,300 miles in three days. And then the last 20 miles of the drive took me another two days,” Marczi laughed.

He packed up his belongings from Mountain View, California to spend the next 12  weeks in Chattanooga for the first cohort of the Sustainable Mobility Accelerator, a program powered by The Company Lab (CO.LAB) and gener8tor.

Marczi is the Founder of MarsCharge, a company developing advanced battery-powered chargers for electric vehicles that reduce costs and increase the resilience of the electrical grid. MarsCharge has two products in its pipeline. The MarsCharger Mega is an ultra-fast 550kW DC charger with an internal back of 135kWh that can utilize its storage to provide backup power to the grid or connected building. MarsCharger Lite is a first-of-its-kind charger that is mobile and able to fit inside any sized car trunk. It can also be recharged through a traditional wall outlet.

The technology he developed for chargers is so revolutionary and sought-after that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided him with a grant to complete a prototype of the MarsCharger.

How did he get here?

Marczi studied economics at New York University. He wanted to double major in engineering, but due to the logistics of campus, he settled on business. However, that didn’t hold him back from loading up his class schedule with physics electives and studying electronics textbooks in his free time

“I would ask myself, what am I good at? What can I offer to the world? I decided I may want to get into the electric vehicle space, so I took on a project where I built an electric motorcycle to test my passion,” he said.

It was early in his senior year and Marczi decided to buy a used Yamaha motorcycle off Craigslist. It was about $200, had about 100,000 miles, was rusted all over, and the engine barely worked. Marczi thought it was perfect, for the purpose.

“Normally people like to party their senior year, but I was just focused on getting this thing done,” he said. “I built the battery by hand in my tiny apartment, worked on the body at my grandma’s house in New Jersey, and made sure the bike followed all federal motor vehicle standards so I could ride it on the roads.”

Through the process of building the bike, Marczi identified a problem in the electric vehicle space. He realized there was no portable way to fast-charge the bike.

“There was no moveable battery-powered DC charging system that existed, like a gas caddy. Right now, people are primarily dependent on making it from one charging station to another. So, I decided to start a company,” he said.

At the same time, Marczi said he noted the challenges with the grid and energy storage. He said there is a huge opportunity with the grid for large stationary chargers that can store and release energy.

MarsCharge is aiming to bring both products to market, but right now Marczi is hyper-focusing on the latter. For portable charges to be a plausible solution in the future, the grid capacity needs to expand in the present.

“We got a DOE grant and built a mini version of our stationary charger,” Marczi said. “Then, we got a bunch of purchase orders after that nine-month program.”

Now, Marczi is participating in the Sustainable Mobility Accelerator to make connections and further commercialize his charging solutions.

But, getting to Chattanooga was no easy feat. Once the snow started falling, backups started on I-24. Marczi decided to get off at the Monteagle exit to find backroads around the backup. Turns out, all those roads had accidents blocking the way out, too. He got stuck, along with several others, and had to stay with a local family in New Hope.

“The next morning, the family prepared milk, coffee, orange juice, homemade biscuits, gravy, eggs, and bacon for those of us who slept there,” he said.

Aside from the snow, and getting stuck, it was a great way to welcome him to East Tennessee.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!