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Expert voices: 2023 will be the year of EV charging

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Jan 12, 2023
Photo illustration of Neha Palmer.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of TeraWatt Infrastructure

It's set to be a big year for EV charging. That, at least, is the prediction from Neha Palmer, co-founder and CEO of TeraWatt Infrastructure.

  • "We think this is a new asset class, similar to data centers: You’re going to hear about more investments into this space from people who think about it from that perspective," Palmer tells Axios.

Why she matters: TeraWatt in September announced it had raised more than $1 billion to build a charging network for commercial vehicles, including semi trucks.

  • The company expects to bring its first half-dozen sites online by the end of this year in Southern California.
  • Palmer was previously head of energy for Google.

This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity.

What was the big story in clean energy/climate tech this week?

  • CES last week felt like an auto show: EVs becoming mainstream, gadgets and technology around vehicles, announcements rivaling the Detroit Auto Show.
  • You think about that adoption S-curve, it seems like we’re really accelerating up that curve.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • Charging is coming to the forefront. But how do you operationalize that? How do you bring it into your life as a consumer?
  • Two years ago, it would've been all about the vehicle: "Look how cool this is and how beautiful."
  • This one booth literally had one feature: a charger that looked like mid-century modern furniture, and that was it. It was stunning.

What’s going under-covered or under-noticed?

  • A lot of the focus has been on this passenger vehicle market. We’re seeing a lot of announcements about trucks finally coming off the assembly line.
  • We’re seeing mainline fleets — some that already have giant fleets of ICE vehicles — making really big orders.
  • I come from the cloud space. Cloud-first companies didn't have servers in their basement. They had to find public infrastructure.
  • Other companies, like banks, had giant server infrastructure in their basements. Their equivalents in transportation, these companies, are now migrating to EVs.

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate-tech investing?

  • Climate tech/clean energy is infrastructure.

Three fun things:

💼 First job: Selling newspapers over the phone for the Contra Costa Times.

👑 Proudest investment decision: You can never go wrong in investing more in education. I’m glad I went back to get my MBA.

🤦 The one you regret: I wish I had done that earlier.

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