The Land Grab in EV Charging

Different players are coming into the EV charging scene from different directions, seeking to establish dominant positions in what will be a key infrastructure for the net-zero economy.

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By Ralph Ibendahl, Paul Betts and Ross Board
Published April 17, 2023 | 1 min watch
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Key Points

  • In Europe, the EV space is arguably the most evolved portion of the battery value chain.
  • There are four very different players that are investing to take a slice of this new infrastructure sector.
  • This competition should help accelerate the formation of more comprehensive charging networks, that will reduce range anxiety and support further EV penetration.

The EV space is arguably the most evolved of the battery value chain, particularly in Europe where penetration is relatively high. But as the cars are gaining traction, EV charging networks need to scale up fast. EV charging has similiarities to the rest of the battery value chain in the sense that businesses in the space are still loss-making, but the dynamics of the players are somewhat different.

“EV charging is a land grab between four different kinds of players that are looking to build out the EV infrastructure going forward,” said Ralph Ibendahl, Managing Director and Head of EMEA Energy Transition at RBC Capital Markets.

“EV charging is a land grab between four different kinds of players that are looking to build out the EV infrastructure going forward.”



The four players in EV charging

The first player is OEM-backed EV charging companies, such as Tesla with its Supercharger network or Ionity, a platform backed by seven different OEMs and a financial sponsor. For OEMs, they need to build out the network to support their EV sales and curb range anxiety for the customer. Forecourt owners and oil majors are the second player, as they want to defend their retail position within their existing fuel business.

The third player is the utilities – Statkraft, EnBW and a few others are strong in the space. And finally, there are new entrants backed by financial investors, including infrastructure funds. RBC Capital Markets is working with EQT and Instavolt, and has also worked with Infra Capital on Gridserve.

Bigger networks, better EV penetration

This land grab is similar to what happened in the fibre space and should help drive the ambitions of all four players. It’s also to be hoped that the wide range of players will establish a competitive and comprehensive network.

Currently, EV adoption is still subdued by range anxiety from customers who are afraid that the charging networks aren’t widespread enough to support EVs. This is particularly true in sizeable countries like the US, which would need to see significant EV charging infrastructure to support full use of electric vehicles. Even within urban areas, improved EV charging should help to further support EV penetration and the energy transition.

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