The electricity sector is changing quickly. But transportation is making up a bigger share of carbon emissions — which means that zero-carbon commitments like California’s will have to tackle the mass electrification of cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles.
The companies competing for the future market in replacing gas stations with EV chargers are eager to play their part.
This week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco was marked by cities, utilities and startups making new pledges for expanding EV charging infrastructure.
The Climate Group and C40 Cities groups announced Friday that the week saw 26 cities, states, regions and businesses add their names to various clean transportation commitments. Those include 12 states and regions joining The Climate Group’s zero-emission vehicle challenge, such as California and Washington state, Quebec, Scotland, and Australia’s Capital Territory; and 12 cities joining C40’s fossil fuel-free streets declaration, including the megacities of Seoul and Tokyo, and Honolulu, Santa Monica and West Hollywood in the United States.
On September 11, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that 19 cities and two counties throughout the U.S. have formally launched the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. Participants marked the launch with a commitment to purchase 376 electric vehicles, representing approximately $11 million in electric transportation-related investment, within just the first year of the Collaborative’s creation.
Meanwhile, two startups announced some aggressive targets for their expected market share of the emerging EV charging market.
EVBox, which now has about 60,000 charging stations installed globally, announced it expects to have 1 million EV chargers installed by 2025. That’s an admittedly aggressive target, representing a 1,500-percent increase in seven years. But CEO Kristof Vereenooghe said it’s in line with current forecasts for rapid EV growth, which Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts will grow from 1.1 million in 2017 to 11 million in 2025.
That growth rate equates to more than 30 million EVs that will need charging infrastructure. Last month’s report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, EV Charging Infrastructure Development, predicts that up to 40 million EV charging points will be installed by 2030.
The majority of these new chargers will be residential, but millions of public chargers will also be needed — about 1.6 million in Europe and 1.2 million in North America, according to the report.
Public charging is the target market for ChargePoint. On Thursday, the Silicon Valley-based startup that operates one of the country’s largest EV charging networks announced a target of 2.5 million public chargers by 2025, mostly in North America and Europe. That’s a huge jump from the roughly 53,000 public charging sites the company operates today.
But CEO Pasquale Romano said it’s a conservative estimate of ChargePoint’s share of markets that will be supporting about 20 million EVs by that time. “It’s quite a small percentage of what will be needed once the worldwide fleet goes electric.”
ChargePoint sees this growth partly driven by its U.S. public charging business, which offers financing for customers to install and operate chargers at workplace parking lots, shopping centers, and other public areas, as well as the customer management system to handle their preferred methods of charging drivers for their service.
It’s also taking part in utility-backed EV charging efforts, such as the $750 million in programs from California’s big three investor-owned utilities approved by regulators this year, which include a focus on medium- and heavy-duty EVs and grid-responsive charging. Utility investments in public EV charging in New York and Massachusetts are also opening market opportunities, said Romano.
ChargePoint is also looking to two big growth areas. First is Europe, where it’s been working since last year, when ChargePoint raised $82 million from investors including Daimler, a big EV maker, and Siemens, a major EV charging equipment maker.
Second, it’s expanding into charging for electric fleet vehicles, through the June acquisition of Kisensum, an Oakland-based fleet management software provider with existing contracts.
The U.S. public charging market is dominated by a relative handful of players at present. These include Tesla and its Supercharger network; the EVGo charging network built by NRG Energy and sold to investment firm Vision Ridge Partners in 2016; and those being rolled out as part of Volkswagen's $2 billion Electrify America settlement.
In Europe, by contrast, the public EV charging landscape is more fragmented, Romano said. "In general, this market in the U.S. has fewer players than I would have expected, and in Europe has more players than I expected." But given the growth rates predicted for EVs, both are "plenty big for a number of folks to create a sustainable business," he said.
Finally, ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have been put on notice by California lawmakers that they'll be facing carbon emissions reduction goals in their future. SB 1014, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday, orders state regulators to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of vehicles working for "transportation network companies," which now account for a significant portion of vehicle miles traveled in the state, and set goals to increase their deployment of zero-emission vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile.
This story was updated to include additional announcements.