ChargePoint has been an early leader in defining and deploying public EV charging stations from the early days, having been founded in 2007. This month, the company celebrates not only 12 years in operation, but also the installation of the 100,000th place to charge around the world.
CleanTechnica talked with ChargePoint’s CMO Colleen Jansen about the milestone, the state of the ChargePoint network today, and the road ahead as ChargePoint ramps up towards its goal of installing a staggering 2,500,000 charging points around the world by 2025.
“What we’re interested in is providing EV charging in all the parking lots where people live, work and play,” Colleen said. And in its 12 years of operation, ChargePoint has seen and done it all. From the early days of defining public charging standards to establishing one of the first EV charging networks that enabled customer billing for station hosts, it has been quite the journey. “We’ve been at this since 2007 and we have proven that this can be done. This build out of EV infrastructure can happen. One parking spot at a time, one garage at a time.”
In 2007, smartphones, GPS, mobile payments, and Tesla were not really in the picture. In that catalytic year, the digital revolution happened. Facebook, the iPhone, VMware and on and on. It was a disruptive year for technology and the founding companies in the electrified vehicle space were there. ChargePoint was there.
Fast forward to today and ChargePoint continues to define the public charging space in much of the United States and increasingly, the world. I asked Colleen about the mix of Level 2 and Level 3 charging and how she saw that changing. I think she smirked. ChargePoint is not just a public charging network operator in the traditional sense. They make charging stations, from level 2 on up. They sell chargers for the home, for the workplace, for fleets, for shopping malls, and grocery stores.
Before we unpack that, it’s worth noting that the majority of EV charging happens at home or at work. Those are the two base use cases for daily charging that together, represent 90-95% of all EV charging. That is one of the HUGE differentiators between EV charging and gas stations. With most miles being recouped in one of two of the locations where a vehicle sits for 8-10 hours per day, ChargePoint chose not to ignore those two fundamental locations.
Its line of residential chargers serves customers who are able to install a charger in their garage, carport, driveway or similar location. ChargePoint’s robust line of public level 2 chargers can be just as easily installed at a workplace as they can in a public parking lot and have proven to be a lucrative offering for the company as progressive employers look to attract the most tech literate, educated, and forward thinking employees with on site EV charging.
With solutions in place to fill the two primary points of charge, fast charging can really be put into perspective. “There are certain use cases where you want fast charge infrastructure. On the driver side of things, the majority of fueling will be done at home and work. That’s borne out in the data.”
Yes, it is important, because drivers do need fast charging for road trips or the occasional trip out of town, but fast charging is not and will never represent the bulk of EV charging. “We think that fast charge fits in, but it’s really more of occasional use. It’s not what we call primary fuel,” Colleen said. “It’s a little bit like Cookie Monster. It’s a sometimes food.” It is simply not possible to top a Sesame Street reference, so I’m just going to leave it at that.
That’s not to say that ChargePoint doesn’t play in the fast charging space because it definitely does, but it is not and will not constitute the majority of EV charging. We’ve moved beyond gas stations, folks. And that’s something we should celebrate more.
Today, ChargePoint has established interoperability agreements with the other charging network heavyweights like EVgo, FLO, and Electrify America with even more abroad. The company announced at the Global Climate Action Summit that it has committed to installing 2.5 million (what!?) charging points by 2025. That’s a 25-fold increase in charging points over the next 6 years on one of the largest installed bases of EV charging stations in the world.
ChargePoint has a unique queuing function that allows people to get into a virtual line for a charging station with new functionality that lets them see where they are in the queue. Drivers can initiate a charging session from their phone, with an RFID card, or simply by tapping compatible tech like a phone or watch on the charger. Change is hard, but ChargePoint is doing everything they can to make the change to driving and charging electric easy.
Let’s get back to that 2.5 million charge points number. Much like with Tesla’s growth, the first decade or so saw the team being gathered, the technology developed, and the fundamentals being put into place. 12 years in, ChargePoint is at a point where it can support the rapid rates of adoption that are being seen all over the world.
And that’s how they see the ramp up to 2.5 million stations going. “We think that it’s really keeping pace with the adoption of electric vehicles,” Colleen said. The 2.5 million charge points number assumes, “that the charging infrastructure is keeping pace with the adoption of EVs.” As more and more EVs hit the road in countries around the world, ChargePoint will be ready to provide home, workplace, fleet, shopping mall, and rest stop charging at whatever speed customers need.
Ultimately, Colleen said that the ChargePoint team is a group of EV enthusiasts that have been driving and charging electric vehicles for years. As customers of their own solutions, they are “just trying to make it easier for the driver,” she said.
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