ChargePoint joins the rush for electric-car charging stations in Europe

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

ChargePoint has installed 16,000 electric-vehicle chargers in California and 42,000 total across the United States. Now it's heading to Europe.

The Silicon Valley company said it's struck a deal with TSG to help ChargePoint expand there.

TSG provides equipment and services to fueling stations in 22 countries across Europe. The ChargePoint deal follows an announcement that four major automakers plan to build a network of 400 "fast-charging" stations across Europe. The network, a joint venture called Ionity, is co-owned by BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen.

The idea is to allow electric car owners to plan cross-country and, eventually, cross-continent trips on main thoroughfares with confidence that they'll be able to recharge. Many of the stations will be built at commercial rest stops. The scheme is similar to Tesla's coast-to-coast Supercharger network -- although those charging ports work only with Tesla cars.

Separately, pan-European electric utility giant E.On said it will install 10,000 individual charging ports over the next several years.

Ionity didn't say how many individual ports it will install, and E.On didn't estimate how many stations the 10,000 ports would represent.

Nor did ChargePoint, a private company, provide precise numbers for its expansion plan, though a company representative said more than 600 ports a month are being installed. For all companies, the early focus will be on major markets in Germany, France and Britain.

As a result of Tesla's success selling all-electric luxury cars, European automakers have announced plans for dozens of pure-electric and plug-in hybrid models into the next decade. Combine that with serious political pressure in Europe to limit or even eventually ban internal combustion engines, along with the black eye the auto companies suffered in the diesel emissions cheating scandal, and "Europe is moving at a quicker pace than the" U.S. to drive the market for electric cars, said Mike Tinskey, global director electrification and infrastructure at Ford.

The trick, not just for Europe but for the rest of the world, is persuading customers to buy electric cars, which continue to hold only a tiny fraction of the total market.

ChargePoint's move into Europe is being financed in part by a $125 million financing round this year led by Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz. ChargePoint sells charging ports to homes and businesses, and earns recurring revenue by servicing them.

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