7 Electric Vehicle Charging Companies
ZSW, a leading European energy research institute, puts the number of electric cars on the road at 370,000 as of 2014. In the U.S. alone, there are 290,000 electric cars on the road which is a +69% increase from the year prior. While there are many ways to play the growth of electric vehicles, one way is to take a “picks and shovels” approach and invest in electric vehicle charging stations.
Historically, this theme hasn’t fared well. Founded in 2007, Better Place was a venture-capital backed company that burnt through $850 million trying to change the world with their ubiquitous electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The company eventually went bankrupt and liquidated their assets for just $450,000. ECOtality was another electric vehicle charging company that was backed by a $100 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. They went bankrupt in 2013. Perhaps there is no viable business model for electric vehicle charging companies or perhaps electric vehicle usage wasn’t mature enough for first movers. In any case, here’s a look at 7 companies that remain in the electric vehicle charging space.
This over-the-counter company acquired 4 of their competitors including ECOtality’s network of charging stations shortly after they went bankrupt. The problem is that this network doesn’t appear to be making much money. In looking at their financials, it appears that each station generates on average $27.51 per month or less than a dollar a day. They recently raised institutional funding, strengthened senior leadership, and they have an established relationship with Nissan. They now need to ramp up their revenues and stimulate their share price which is down -57% over the past year and sitting near 52-week lows.
This OTC company wants to use solar in combination with an electric vehicle charging station. In addition to their “solar tree” product, in 2013 they launched the world’s first fully autonomous renewable car charger which is fully mobile. As of their last 10-Q filing, they had $78,467 of cash on hand. Revenues for the first half of 2015 were $700,000 with losses of $1 million. During the three months ended June 30, 2015, they successfully delivered 11 EV ARC™ charging units of which 3 were delivered under a 12-month lease agreement. The latest filing also has some of the usual peculiarities we see with OTC stocks. The Company apparently leases a pickup truck from the CEO for $1,850 a month plus mileage.
We wrote about AeroVironment before and noted that electric vehicle charging solutions only account for 15% of their 2015 sales, a proportion that has been slowly declining over time. With their high-margin and high-growth drone business showing strong revenue growth, it remains to be seen if they have the ability or desire to turn around this declining business line.
This means that the more market share Tesla captures with their vehicles, the more market share they capture for their exclusive electric charging solutions. If we assume 50,000 Teslas on the road in the U.S., then there are still 82% of electric vehicles that need to be charged somewhere. There’s always the chance that the Tesla “supercharger” stations could be enabled to support other electric vehicles but this seems unlikely. You wouldn’t want a Tesla owner to pull up to a fully occupied station and see non-Tesla electric vehicles which defeats the purpose of the “free of charge” value proposition.
Founded in 2008, SemaConnect has taken in $26 million in funding so far with their latest Series C round completed in July of this year. The Company has used this funding to deploy thousands of charging stations across the nation:
Their focus is on the commercial and residential property market. In 2011, ChargePro saw their single largest order to date for 1,500 charging stations. Two ChargePro charging stations can be leased for a 5-year period at a cost of $258 per month for both.
While not a company that actually provides infrastructure, PlugShare wants to aggregate all the data for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure that is deployed across all providers. For those who want to know where all these chargers are located, PlugShare provides an app which lets you know the location of over 32,000 charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.
ChargePoint has taken in $115 million so far from 15 venture capital firms including names like BMW, Siemens, Braemar Energy Ventures, Toyota, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. ChargePoint is the world’s largest and most open electric vehicle charging network with over 23,400 locations.
Every 7 seconds, a driver connects to a ChargePoint station. Interestingly enough, the provider of the charging station dictates the price to be charged and ChargePoint claims that many of their charging stations are free to use. They offer a variety of charging solutions as seen below:
If we had to pick one of these 5 companies as the most serious contender going forward for a pure-play on electric vehicle charging, we’d pick ChargePoint based on their strong backing, the large number of charging stations they have in operation, and their “free to use” angle. Since ChargePoint is still private, retail investors will have to wait until an IPO takes place to participate.
Update 11/29/2018: ChargePoint has raised $240 million in Series H funding, including from American Electric Power, to serve an anticipated flood of electric vehicles that will all need charge points. This brings the company’s total funding to $532.2 million to date.
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