From The Mobilist Inbox This Week
The business of charging: While most of the electrification industry has had its eyes fixed on electric vehicle makers and battery companies, some other, low-profile actors backed by big money have been looking for other angles to earn a fortune. Among them are EV charging network companies and recyclers. San Francisco-based TeraWatt Infrastructure falls generally into the former category: With $100 million in investment capital, TeraWatt is setting out to finance and build gigantic charging centers for the cargo industry — serving everything from Amazon delivery vans to semi-trucks.
In a video conversation yesterday, CEO Neha Palmer told me TeraWatt has been acquiring land in major logistic hubs and along the country’s major highway arteries in 18 states. The target market is fleet owners that are acquiring electric vehicles. TeraWatt would be able to build charging infrastructure, on-site power generation, and connections to the grid. Backing the venture is Keyframe and Cyrus Capital, both investment firms in New York. “Our key offering is an easy way to electrify,” said Palmer, who formerly was Google’s Head of Energy Strategy, building out the search giant’s data centers. “We own it. We can help you finance it.”
What stands out is not the size of the investment — $100 million is starting to become the ante in the booming EV and battery space — but its role as a confidence-builder: The widespread, visible availability of charging infrastructure will be a key determinant of the level of enthusiasm with which electric drive trains are or are not embraced. The diesel infrastructure is long built-out and trusted. If electric cargo-size vehicles are to carve out a substantial piece of the market, it would help if a delivery firm knows someone else will handle the charging part.
Capturing research lingo: Mobilist reader Andrew Wang tweets with a highly amusing parody of the typical battery paper.
The price of parity: Last week, there was much response to two stories on the new standard for sticker-price parity with combustion vehicles. For at least a decade, the goal was to get the cost of lithium-ion batteries down to $100 per kilo-watt hour. But now, industry leaders say $60 is the more realistic cost for matching gasoline.
Reader Michael Pon wrote back: “Is the implication of this decrease in the estimated goalpost price per kWh required to achieve parity that the industry needs to step up its game? Does it mean that the incumbent [internal combustion engine] makers are hosed because it is unlikely they will be able to catch Tesla and the EV startups? Or, is it reprieve for them as that new goalpost is not achievable by anyone, Elon Musk notwithstanding?”