From Black Sabbath to EVs: Preparing for the Electric Vehicle Era

From Black Sabbath to EVs: Preparing for the Electric Vehicle Era

From rock star to EV revolutionary, Rue Phillips has led an unconventional path to becoming a pioneer in the electric vehicle (EV) era.  SkillFusion co-founder and president started out as a professional guitarist, playing with rock legends like Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. But as EVs started gaining traction, Phillips returned to his roots in electrical contracting and soon established himself as a recognized leader in the EV charging industry. Now, with over 13 years of experience in solar, EVs, and renewable energy, Phillips is helping drive the transition to cleaner transportation.



Electric vehicle (EV) usage has skyrocketed in the past decade. Currently, there are about 1.7 million1 electric cars in the US and numbers are trending upwards with each auto manufacturer that debuts an EV.

While there has been a recent retrenchment with automakers pushing back timelines2, industry analysts remain confident that these fluctuations won’t have any significant impact on long-term trends. With interest in renewable energy still growing, experts are positive we are entering the “Electric Vehicle Era”3.

One champion of the EV era has an unlikely backstory, and while his journey toward working at the forefront of the EV revolution may be unconventional, it was a long time coming. Rue Phillips has emerged as a recognized leader and veteran expert in the EV charging industry. He is among good company in his assessment that by preparing society for the EV era, we can soon reap the promised benefits.

From the “Crazy Train” to electric vehicles

Phillips wasn’t always an EV charging expert and leader in the electric vehicle revolution. The SkillFusion4 co-founder and president always had a natural inclination toward electronics—an interest that led to his rock-and-roll heyday.

“I grew up in an electrical contracting family,” Phillips explains. “I was always given schematics and old television sets from which to scavenge electrical components for each project. One of my projects was to build a guitar amplifier, and it was a great project, but the problem at the time was that I played violin, not guitar. Upon completing the project, I played amplified music from my cassette player through it until I finally traded my violin for a guitar from a friend. I was sold!”

 Phillips took to the guitar and eventually set electrical contracting aside to become a professional musician, playing with the likes of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne solo projects, and members of Cream and Deep Purple. Meanwhile, Phillips’s family continued their work in electrical contracting, and in the 1970s, the family business picked up a project to repair battery chargers for electric milk floats in London, which were early EVs.

“Eventually, I saw where the EV industry was going, and I wanted to be a part of that again,” Phillips says. “I got off the ‘Crazy Train’ and returned to my electrical contractor training.”

Beginning his own electrical contracting company in California in 1994, Phillips was seated in the hub of the burgeoning EV revolution nearly a decade before newer companies like Tesla began making notable strides in the EV market. Phillips’s own company was eventually awarded an RFP to work on EV chargers—a call-back to his family’s work years before. He was off and running, and the EV space would become his life’s work.

The EV Era

“Ten years ago, owning an expensive EV was for ‘Tree Huggers’ or the ‘Save the Planet’-type drivers,” opines Phillips. “However, they’ve become more accessible price-wise. It’s become cool to be seen in an EV.”

Studies5 show that the EV market is set to grow rapidly in the next decade, in part due to increased affordability and the expansion of EV availability and options. The average driving range of EVs keeps improving, with averages hitting between 250 and 500 miles6, depending on the vehicle.

In addition, EVs typically have a lower center of gravity, which means they handle well. They produce less rumble and noise and are generally considered more comfortable to drive day to day.

The EV Era is also being spurred by an uptick in care for the planet. Few can deny that climate change is a concern in society, and people want to feel as if their choices can make a difference in their overall carbon footprint. As government policies around the world have worked to tackle this issue, EVs have taken off globally as a result, due to their ability to eliminate the issue of tailpipe emissions, making them better for the environment than gas-powered vehicles.

As the EV Era marches on, more adoption and innovations, such as the electrification of the industrial trucking sector7, will lead to even better environmental improvements overall.

Keeping it going

Like other strong proponents of EV use, Phillips knows that the trajectory of the EV revolution all depends on the next generation. “Educating our children towards the transition to an energy-efficient and renewable lifestyle is paramount,” he says. “We must teach them early about the imminent integration between solar photovoltaics, battery energy storage, and electric vehicles in the modern home.”

As more companies innovate improvements to EV design and EV charging infrastructure, EVs will become more accessible and affordable for the common driver. It is a world that people like Phillips have anticipated and been working towards throughout their careers.

However, for as business-focused as Phillips is these days, he still maintains some of that old rock-and-roll spirit. “I am having a blast listening to my old rock music from a top-class music system in my totally silent EV while driving down the highway and not missing a beat!”


Rue Phillips, a former professional guitarist with over 13 years of experience in the solar, electric vehicle (EV), and renewable energy industries, is a visionary investor, entrepreneur, and expert who has founded or led several successful companies in the cleantech space. Rue is also the President and co-founder of SkillFusion, a digital customer service platform for training, certification, and compliance of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Electricians, Technicians, and EV-ComTechs.


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