Building a proper EV charging infrastructure has been in the focus of automakers and the government, in an effort to promote electric vehicles and make them more viable. While the installation of most of the charging stations that are currently in operation has been funded by regional governments, there are a few private companies that manufacture charging stations as well, such as ChargePoint, Schneider Electric, Delta Electronics, and Car Charging Group; they are currently battling for dominance in a market that is set to expand considerably in the next ten years.
Navigant Research forecasts that global revenue from the sales of EVSE will grow from $567 million in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2022. With annual sales of electric and hybrid vehicles expected to reach 3.8 million units by the end of the decade, the demand for EV charging solutions is certainly going to increase as well. This growth also makes a compelling argument for companies that supply and manufacture charging stations to ramp up their efforts and focus on creating more reliable and more affordable EV charging equipment.
To be able to stay competitive in the market, the focus of these manufacturers seems to be centered around developing stations that can charge electric vehicles fast enough, be easily incorporated into existing filling stations, and be built at affordable prices. Most companies are producing DC chargers that supply power at about 25 kW, and that are most suitable for commercial applications. They are able to recharge the battery of the average electric car to about 50 percent in approximately 20 minutes.
ChargePoint, a startup company based in Campbell, California that provides an electric vehicle infrastructure, has distinguished itself as one of the leaders in the EV charger market, and managed to sell its charging stations to businesses in 27 U.S. states so far. In addition to the United States, ChargePoint’s stations are installed in many cities across Europe and Australia, making it the largest provider of charging stations in the world. Today, there are about 17,000 ChargePoint stations in operation around the globe. The company collaborates with several automakers, such as Nissan, BMW, and GM, allowing access to its charging network to customers who own an electric vehicle built by these companies.
As far as competitors are concerned, it appears that currently Car Charging Group is ChargePoint’s biggest rival, and probably has the best chance to threaten their imminent dominance. The company, based in Miami Beach, Florida, was founded in 2009, and has sold over 1,000 stations across the United States to date. However, they will definitely have their work cut out for them, given that ChargePoint has been able to obtain massive funding, with total venture capital investment exceeding $100 million, as well as adopt an innovative business model that allows the company to make an extra profit, by providing network cloud services to other EV charging equipment manufacturers.
However, regardless of who emerges to become the leader in the space, the EV charging market is definitely set to become very competitive in the next few years. As more competitors materialize and the market matures, we can hopefully expect to see many more success stories similar to that of ChargePoint, and less failures including companies such as ECOtality and Better Place, which were not able to succeed despite the generous federal grants they received.