Feb 14, 2019

EV infrastructure player is positioning itself for driverless cars

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Electric vehicle infrastructure giant ChargePoint is using some of its recent $240 million fundraising haul to position itself for interlocking changes that await: the electrification of different types of vehicle fleets and the rise of autonomous tech.

What's new: CEO Pasquale Romano says in an interview with Axios that despite it being early stages of autonomous vehicle technology, AVs should be included in the infrastructure industry's long-term planning.

“Everything we know about transportation is going to get disrupted ... including charging. ... What we have to do is make sure that we are early in supporting that."

How it works: If AVs, EVs, and the electrification of fleets — think ride-hailing services, commercial delivery vehicles and government vehicles — were a Venn diagram, there would be lots of overlap.

  1. Most AVs will be ultimately be electric.
  2. AVs and electric fleet vehicles are likely to charge at different places than personal vehicles.
  3. Charging will probably be concentrated in depots that can handle a range of vehicle types, Romano notes.

Between the lines: That's a seismic shift over the long-term.

“It changes your architecture for your products. It changes the scope of what your software has to talk to on the fleet side, it changes the scope of what your hardware has to deal with on the fast-charge side."
— Romano

Why you’ll hear about this again: Romano, whose California-based company says it has the world's largest commercial charging network, agrees with projections that as AVs rise, so will total vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

  • "As long as we are attached economically to VMT in some way, we should be fine. This is a huge market,” Romano says.
  • Romano says that preparing for the use of EVs and AVs, especially in vehicle fleets, means "you have got to be thinking literally with a 20-year lens" — and even much longer.

Here are a few more takeaways from my interview with Romano, whose decade-old company is expanding in the U.S. and Europe...

1. The red state opportunity: He expects that southern states where automakers are expanding EV production — he mentioned Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee — will be a charging growth area.

  • “The primary reason is there is actually really good economic alignment. It is hard to be making something in your state and not promoting the use of it in your state,” Romano said.

2. The European market: “My assumption is that there will be continued consolidation. It is not going to 1 player. It is too large a market, right? But it can’t be 20,” he said, noting companies need scale to compete.

3. The future of retail: In addition to electrified bus fleets, which is a focus for the company, Romano sees the growth of online retail presenting a big opportunity.

  • Electrification of delivery vehicle fleets already makes sense from a cost perspective, but there are currently few options, he notes.
  • But more vehicle makers like Daimler (one of ChargePoint's investors) are developing more products. "When the vehicles are here for all the different sizes of trucks, then I think that is going to electrify quickly," Romano says.
  • “Those fleets are operating globally, so the charging infrastructure vendors ... are going to have to operate globally [too], because you don’t want to ... have a regional patchwork," which would make it too complicated, he says.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,600

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 11 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 1,273,990 — Total deaths: 69,444 — Total recoveries: 260,247Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 337,310 — Total deaths: 9,634 — Total recoveries: 17,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Intelligence community watchdog suggests Trump fired him for doing his job

Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community,at the Capitol in October. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson suggested in a statement Sunday President Trump fired him for acting impartially in carrying out his duties following a whistleblower complaint.

Why it matters: Atkinson alerted Congress last September to the complaint on Trump's correspondence with Ukraine's president, triggering an inquiry that resulted in the Trump's impeachment.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy