My crystal ball powers are not strong enough to predict precisely who the leading companies will be seven years from now, but I am quite confident that the list of the leading charge point operators (CPOs) will look very different from today.
Many technology markets (not all) see smaller, first-mover companies dominate an industry in the early years. Prior to my focus on the EV/EV charging space I spent 20 years in the digital marketing industry. During the roughly three-year period of 2012-2014, every one of the leading email marketing/digital marketing companies was acquired — by Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, and Adobe. None of the brands of these acquired companies exists any longer.
I expect a similar evolution among DC fast charging operators with M&A activity and consolidation. But one huge difference with what I experienced in the digital marketing space, is that in the DC fast charging industry, we will see many existing companies enter the industry that are already in the refueling and retailing space. They both have great locations and refueling, retailing, utility, permitting, procurement, planning, etc teams — and so can make the transition to EV chargers fairly smoothly.
The most logical companies — many who have already entered the EV charging operator business — are convenience store chains, travel center operators, retailers who already sell gasoline, and of course fuel retailers (gas station/convenience store companies).
Again, and to be clear, the intent here is not to suggest who the exact market-leading companies will be in 2030, but rather that they will not be standalone charge-point operators and likely see many new brand names at the top of the leaderboard. I also suspect we could see some surprising companies on the leaderboard in 2030 and from industries other than those I’ve outlined.
But I would be surprised, for example, to see a fast food/QSR company like McDonald’s operate its own large branded charging network (they will increasingly be a site host for chargers) — but I also would not be shocked if they and others entered the fray. (Taco Bell, Subway, and Chipotle have made announcements — but all of them are in partnership with other companies who will actually deploy and manage the chargers.)
Who do you think will be on the 2030 leaderboard? What types of companies may make a surprise entry?
Note: ChargePoint is not included in either list as while they are a leading charging network — they sell chargers and network services — but they don’t own and operate their chargers – e.g., they are not a charge point operator, which is the category I used for this exercise.