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ChargePoint will enter the European market to cash in on the rising demand for battery cars as the world’s largest network for recharging stations seeks to expand beyond its home market of the US.

The privately-held company has raised $82m in fresh funding led by Daimler, taking the amount raised so far to $225m, to help it push into the market.

The group owns a network of more than 33,000 charge stations across the US, where owners of car parks from Target retail stores to small garage owners can pay ChargePoint to install, run and monitor their electric refuelling points.

More than 1m electric cars are on the road globally, but their rise is tempered by consumer concerns over price, range and the availability of chargers.

Chief executive Pasquale Romano said the introduction of charge points in public places leads to a disproportionate take-up of electric vehicles in the area.

“It’s a question of chicken and egg, but when you get one egg a lot of chickens tend to turn up,” he told the Financial Times.

He said the group’s European business will surpass its US operation in size in time, given the push in the EU towards electric vehicles.

Although transferring the technology from the US is relatively easy, the company needs to ramp up sales operations to convince business owners to install charging points in their car parks.

The company has some US customers with European operations who are already preparing to use ChargePoint to roll out stations in Europe.

There are around 90,000 charge points across Europe, including 4,100 superfast chargers that can fill an electric car’s battery in less than an hour. Tesla, which runs its own network of fast charging points, has around 1,200 stations in the continent.

Around 100,000 electric cars were sold in Europe last year – compared to 150,000 in the US, according to industry estimates.

Carmakers in Europe will have to sell electric vehicles to motorists in order to hit stretching emissions rules that come into force in 2021.

Several carmakers, from Volkswagen to Aston Martin, have predicted that a quarter of all their vehicles sold will be electric by 2025.

Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, has launched an entirely separate sub-brand – EQ – for electric cars in the future.

Mr Romano said:

The automobile industry is at an inflection point, with more vehicles coming onto the market offering highly advanced electric powertrains than any other time in the world’s history.

As part of the collaboration with Daimler, the German carmaker’s executive Axel Harries will join Chargepoint’s board of directors.

In November, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Ford announced a consortium to build 400 charging stations this year, with a longer term ambition of having “thousands” available to electric car customers across Europe by the end of the decade.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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