The EV Charging Problem

March 6, 2021

Above, the chicken and egg problem of EVs and EV chargers.

TechCrunch:

Shell’s plan to roll out 500,000 electric charging stations in just four years is the latest sign of an EV charging infrastructure boom that has prompted investors to pour cash into the industry and inspired a few companies to become public companies in search of the capital needed to meet demand.

Since the beginning of the year, three companies have been acquired by special purpose acquisition vehicles and are on a path to go public, while a third has raised tens of millions from some of the biggest names in private equity investing for its own path to commercial viability.

The SPAC attack began in September when an electric vehicle charging network ChargePoint struck a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company Switchback Energy Acquisition Corporation, with a market valuation of $2.4 billion. The company’s public listing will debut February 16 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, EVgo, an owner and operator of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, agreed to merge with the SPAC Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition for a valuation of $2.6 billion — a huge win for the company’s privately held owner, the power development and investment company LS Power. LS Power and EVgo management, which today own 100% of the company, will be rolling all of its equity into the transaction. Once the transaction closes in the second quarter, LS Power and EVgo will hold a 74% stake in the newly combined company.

One more deal soon followed. Volta Industries agreed to merge this month with Tortoise Acquisition II, a tie-up that would give the charging company named after battery inventor Alessandro Volta a $1.4 billion valuation. The deal sent shares of the SPAC company, trading under the ticker SNPR, rocketing up 31.9% in trading earlier this week to $17.01. The stock is currently trading around $15 per share.

Not to be outdone, private equity firms are also getting into the game. Riverstone Holdings, one of the biggest names in private equity energy investment, placed its own bet on the charging space with an investment in FreeWire. That company raised $50 million in a new round of funding earlier this year.

“The writing is on the wall and the investors have to take the time. There’s been a flight out of the traditional investment opportunities in markets,” said FreeWire chief executive Arcady Sosinov, in an interview. “There’s been a flight out of the oil and gas companies and out of the traditional utilities. You have to look at other opportunities… This is going to be the largest growth opportunity of the next 10 years.”

FreeWire deploys its infrastructure with BP currently, but the company’s charging technology can be rolled out to fast food companies, post offices, grocery stores or anywhere people go and spend somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour. With the Biden administration’s plan to boost EV adoption in federal fleets, post offices actually represent another big opportunity for charging networks, Sosinov said.

2 Responses to “The EV Charging Problem”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Just FYI, per commtank.com, the average cost to install an underground fuel tank to replace an existing tank is ~$250k, including the tank, piping and associated equipment. Gas stations have to have a tank for each fuel blend.

  2. mboli Says:

    I have no idea what is the import of charging companies being acquired by “special purpose acquisition vehicles.” Maybe somebody can explain it?

    I use Chargepoint somewhat, should I be worried that prices will go up?


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