Advertisement

ChargePoint CEO: “Now's the time to crack Europe”

US electric car charging company ChargePoint enters European market with £81m investment led by Daimler

Mercedes EQ electric SUV - front tracking

Earlier this year Daimler announced it would lead an £81 million round of investment in Californian EV infrastructure firm ChargePoint, enabling it to enter the European electric charging market. We spoke to ChargePoint founder and CEO, Pasquale Romano, at this month’s Geneva Motor Show to see why the time is right for firms in Europe to start investing in electric chargers as well as cars.

Advertisement - Article continues below

“Until now we have resisted the urge to enter Europe. The reason is, we wanted to get established in every segment of EV charging and wait until the company was sufficiently mature. We didn’t want to make a mess, so to speak”.

With the finances in place, ChargePoint can dedicate considerable resources to major European markets, including the UK. The firm plans to launch a continent headquarters in Germany, sitting alongside its Californian base and receiving equal attention and resource. But why did Daimler pump so much money in?

BMW i3 vs Audi A3 e-tron - charging

“We work with a lot of major auto brands”, Romano claims, listing BMW, Toyota, Honda, GM and VW as just a few examples.“But Daimler is especially keen on developing the European infrastructure market. Look at their new products and you can see why”. Romano cites Mercedes’ all-electric EQ concept, plus the growing number of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the range.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Daimler is only one of a number of major carmakers who have invested in infrastructure, with Ford, VW and BMW all announcing similar cash injections recently. “The big brands are catalysing infrastructure that benefits everyone, including the consumer and smaller carmakers”, Pasquale says.

ChargePoint’s business plan is slightly different from companies such as Ecotricity. “We’re like AirBnB for chargers – letting individual businesses buy chargers and pay us a flat fee to keep it on our network”. This means the business can choose to charge EV or PHEV drivers whatever they want (even nothing) to plug in their car in order to drive customers in.

According to Romano, companies won’t be investing in huge banks of electric chargers overnight. “One parking lot at a time, one business at a time, that’s the way we work. Anyone trying to buy and install chargers everywhere at once will fail, it’s impossible, like trying to boil the ocean. But if you invite people to boil it one cup at a time then eventually you will achieve your goal”.

VW Golf GTE - charging cables

Recently, UK rival Ecotricity started charging users a flat £6 fee for 30 minutes use – courting some controversy from the public and media alike. Romano says it is “fair”, however, to charge a “convenience oriented fee”, on motorways at least.

“Those chargers enable you to use an EV as your only car – saving a tremendous amount of money in fuel and maintenance costs. You’re only going to use them a dozen times a year.  For everyday use, that sort of charge would be crazy, which is why chargers in town will be highly discounted – you’ll largely get electricity for nothing”.

Romano also has distinct views on innovation in the industry, claiming technology solutions don’t need to be overly complicated. “There is an awful lot of unnecessary futuristic hype about electrified roadways and inductive charging – plugging in your vehicle really isn’t that hard. Inductive tech is awesome if you have a private garage, but it’s unlikely to be used in public charging as it creates an overly complicated situation”.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

BMW and Mercedes pause autonomous car partnership
BMW and Mercedes
BMW

BMW and Mercedes pause autonomous car partnership

German firms had previously agreed to work together on Level 4 self-driving systems, plans that have been paused following a "mutual and amicable agre…
19 Jun 2020
New Mercedes-AMG eTurbo technology revealed
Mercedes

New Mercedes-AMG eTurbo technology revealed

Mercedes-AMG’s new electrically assisted turbocharger will help combat lag on the company’s upcoming, larger turbochargers
17 Jun 2020
New 2020 Mercedes-AMG One: specs, details and on-sale date
Mercedes

New 2020 Mercedes-AMG One: specs, details and on-sale date

Mercedes-AMG One teased in new video, as F1-engined hypercar takes to the track
21 Apr 2020
New 2022 Mercedes EQE: Tesla Model S rival spied for the first time
Mercedes EQE

New 2022 Mercedes EQE: Tesla Model S rival spied for the first time

Our spy photographers have caught the new all-electric Mercedes EQE testing ahead of its 2022 arrival.
10 Mar 2020

Most Popular

New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive

Skoda has unwrapped the complete Octavia line-up, which now offers a choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains
3 Jul 2020
New 2020 Ford Puma ST teased for the first time
Ford Puma

New 2020 Ford Puma ST teased for the first time

The sporty new Ford Puma ST will make its debut later this year, with the same 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine as the Fiesta ST
3 Jul 2020
New Vauxhall Corsa-e 2020 review
Vauxhall Corsa-e hatchback

New Vauxhall Corsa-e 2020 review

The all-electric Vauxhall Corsa-e boasts up to 134bhp and a 209-mile range, but rivals offer better value for money
3 Jul 2020