European and American charging pile companies are in action


In European and American markets, companies operating electric vehicle charging stations are vying for prime locations to deploy public fast chargers. Industry observers believe that as more large investors join the competition, the charging pile industry will usher in a new round of consolidation.

In European and American markets, companies operating electric vehicle charging stations are vying for prime locations to deploy public fast chargers. Industry observers believe that as more large investors join the competition, the charging pile industry will usher in a new round of consolidation.

Currently, many companies operating public chargers are backed by long-term investors, and more similar companies are expected in the future. Impending bans on fuel vehicles around the world have made the charging pile industry more attractive to infrastructure equity investors such as Infracapital and EQT.

Tomi Ristimaki, CEO of Kempower, a Finnish electric vehicle charging pile manufacturer, said: "If you look closely at our customers, you will find that now it is like a enclosure movement. Who gets it now? Whoever is in the best position can guarantee the power sales performance in the next few years.”

There are currently more than 900 companies operating electric vehicle charging stations around the world, according to one analysis. According to data from research firm PitchBook, the charging pile industry has attracted more than $12 billion in venture capital investment since 2012.

ChargePoint is one of the largest providers of electric vehicle charging equipment infrastructure and software. Michael Hughes, the company's chief revenue officer and chief commercial officer, said that as large investors fund more consolidation, "the outlook for the fast charger industry is going to be very different than it is now."

Companies including Volkswagen, BP and E.ON Power are investing heavily in the charging pile industry. Since 2017, there have been 85 acquisitions across the industry.


There are more than 30 fast-charging station operators in the UK alone, with two new companies set up in the sector last month. One is Australian company Jolt, which is backed by BlackRock's infrastructure fund, while the other is Zapgo, which received a £25 million ($31.4 million) investment from Canadian pension fund OPTrust.

Loren McDonald, CEO of San Francisco-based research firm EVAdoption, said Tesla is the largest player in the U.S. market, but more convenience stores and gas stations will quickly join the market. The number of fast charging networks will increase from 25 in 2022 to 54 in 2030.

At a utilization rate of around 15%, a well-located EV charging station could take up to 4 years to become profitable. Companies that operate charging stations complain that local regulatory red tape in Europe is hampering their expansion of business. Despite this, the charging pile industry is still considered a good investment by long-term infrastructure investors such as Infracapital. Infracapital owns Norway’s charging network Recharge and has also invested in Britain’s Gridserve.


Christophe Bordes, managing director of Infracapital, said: “It definitely makes sense to make long-term investments in (charging station companies) in the right locations.”

ChargePoint's Hughes believes the larger players will start looking beyond existing sites for new sites that can host 20 to 30 fast chargers, surrounded by a variety of retailers and amenities.

“It’s a race for space,” he said, “but finding, building and getting these new sites online is taking longer than anyone expected.”

The competition for the best sites is getting fiercer. Site hosts can often switch back and forth between charge point operators before deciding on a winner.

"We like to say that when you're talking to a site host, no deal is dead," said Blink Charging CEO Brendan Jones.

Many companies that operate charging piles are also rushing to sign exclusive contracts with landlords.

For example, UK-based InstaVolt, a subsidiary of EQT Group, has reached agreements with fast-food chains such as McDonald's to set up charging stations within McDonald's store areas.

“If you win a partnership, it’s yours unless you mess up,” said InstaVolt CEO Adrian Keen.

Keane said that with EQT's "significant financial resources" backing, InstaVolt plans to install 10,000 charging points locally in the UK by 2030, as well as operating in Iceland, Spain and Portugal. He added that integration could begin in the next year or so.

"This could open up more opportunities in the markets we're in and also open doors for us to go into new markets," Keane said.


The charging station division of German utility EnBW has 3,500 electric vehicle charging stations locally in Germany, accounting for about 20% of the German market. The company, which invests 200 million euros ($215 million) a year, plans to deploy 30,000 charging stations by 2030, relying on local staff to compete for more charging stations.

Lars Walch, vice president of local sales in Germany, said the company has also established charging network partnerships in Austria, the Czech Republic and northern Italy.

Watch said that while consolidation is coming, there is still room for multiple operators to coexist.

Hakon Vist, CEO of Recharge, said that Norway is the world's leading electric vehicle market, but as various companies compete to deploy charging piles, the Norwegian market has suffered from "over-deployment" in the short term this year. 2,000 new charging stations have been added locally, bringing the total to 7,200. But EV sales in Norway were down 2.7% through October this year.

Recharge’s share of the Norwegian charging pile market is about 20%, second only to Tesla.

“Some companies will find themselves too small to meet customer demand and walk away or sell,” West said.

There are also people who are starting companies who know they can acquire people and they know they can be acquired.

OPTrust-backed Zapgo plans to target underserved areas of south-west England in its new entry into the UK market, paying landlords a share of its revenue to secure prime locations. Zapgo CEO Steve Leighton said the company plans to deploy 4,000 chargers by 2030. He predicts that integration "will be a funding issue" until later this decade.

"The investors with the deepest pockets will be responsible for the integration," Leighton said, adding that OPTrust "is huge, but it's also possible that one of the big infrastructure funds will come along and hopefully acquire Zapgo at some point."

EVAdoption's McDonald said the U.S. market will also change as convenience store chains like CircleK and Pilot Company and retail giants like Walmart invest heavily in charging stations.

"Like any industry started by a group of small companies, over time the big companies will come in... and they will consolidate," MacDonald said. "At the end of the decade, the companies that are left in the market will It’s going to be completely different.”

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