The Real Reason the Electric Vehicle Revolution Is So Hot
Electric car charging is operating on a version of the freemium model — cheap only until you are hooked
Over the last few months, three big U.S. electric vehicle charging companies have announced multibillion-dollar reverse mergers to take themselves public. In the latest, Volta Industries said Monday that it will go public at a value exceeding $2 billion and walk away with $600 million in cash to build out its charging network. It is part of a massive expansion of EV charging that is underway — one that, according to McKinsey, will grow to as many as nine million U.S. charging points by 2025.
The public consensus about our EV charging future — from industry experts, analysts, and investors — is unusually unified: What we pay for our electric fill-ups is modest and will continue to be, making the prospects of EV ownership much more affordable than the gasoline-propelled past. This is almost certainly true — but only for the next few years. Currently, charging companies supply electricity as a loss leader, since EVs cost considerably more than the equivalent conventional vehicle. While establishing their market, these companies must more or less give away the electricity in order to get people to buy the vehicles and begin building charging brand loyalty. It’s a version of the freemium model — cheap until you are hooked.
But beginning around the middle of the decade, increasingly cheap batteries will bring down EV prices, and the vehicles will begin to cost the same or less than their conventional cousins. EV sales will naturally rise, and they may even go mass-market. At that stage, charging station proprietors will be liberated to raise the price of an electricity fill-up. And they will do so.
EV Charging Prices Are Going to Go Way Up
It’s standard economics — a product’s price usually rises to the level of its closest rival
That’s why charging company SPACs are worth $2 billion-plus valuations today: Like broadband, streaming, and cellphone companies today, charging will be a good business, earning high profits to fill up your EV. It’s true that the…