For years, start-ups, automakers and other companies have been slowly building chargers, especially in California and other coastal states where most electric cars are sold. These companies use different strategies to make money, and auto experts say it’s not clear which one will succeed. The company with the most stations, ChargePoint, sells chargers to individuals, workplaces, shops, condominiums and apartment buildings, and businesses with a large number of electric vehicles. It collects subscription fees for software that manages the chargers. Tesla mainly offers charging to let people buy its cars. And others make money by selling electricity to drivers.
The transition to electric cars
Once the poor cousin of the hip business of making sleek electric cars, the charging industry has been swept up in its own gold rush. According to PitchBook, venture capital firms put nearly $1 billion into charging companies last year, more than the previous five years combined. So far, venture capital investments in 2021 will exceed $550 million.
On Wall Street, publicly traded special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, have signed deals to buy eight charging companies out of 26 deals involving electric vehicles and related businesses, according to a research firm Dealogic. The deals usually involve an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars from major investors such as BlackRock.
“It’s early days and people are trying to wonder what the potential looks like,” said Gabe Daoud Jr., director and analyst at Cowen, an investment bank.
These companies could benefit from the infrastructure bill, but it’s not clear how the Biden administration will allocate money for charging stations.
Another unanswered question is who will be the Exxon Mobil of the electric car era. It could very well be car manufacturers.
Tesla, which makes about two-thirds of the electric cars sold in the United States, has built thousands of chargers, which it has made free to early customers. The company could open its network to vehicles from other automakers by the end of the year, CEO Elon Musk said. said in July.