ChargePoint Network – 2.5-Years of Linear Growth – 54,000 Users – Over 7,000 Daily Charging Sessions

DEC 28 2013 BY MARK KANE 11

ChargePoint Network - stats as of end of 2013

ChargePoint Network – stats as of end of 2013

ChargePoint (previously known as Coulomb Technologies) lays claim to the largest open electric vehicle (EV) charging network in the world—nearly 15,000 points.  Those points are mainly in U.S., but some are found in other countries.  Almost all of those points are AC units with several kW of power.

The unique thing about ChargePoint is the large number of hardware vendors that can join the network with their Level 1, Level 2 or DC fast chargers. ChargePoint manufactures equipment too, but seems to like being an operator more than a hardware supplier only.

After several years of development, we can now check how quickly ChargePoint is growing based on press releases in which we see numbers on infrastrucutre.

The first thing that we should look at is the number of charging points and the number of users. In the summer of 2012, ChargePoint had over 8,000 points in the network.  In the beginning of 2013, this number exceeded 10,000. The number of registered users was at the time over 25,000.

Since then, growth seems rather linear with 350 or so new points added each month and over 2,000 new users.  The second number seems high, but we must remember that the U.S. has well over 170,000 plug-in vehicles now, so at the end of 2013 just one third are using ChargePoint (possibly less because we should add in some users from other countries where ChargePoint has some points too).

Number of charging points

Number of charging points

Number of users

Number of users

ChargePoint's charging point

ChargePoint’s charging point

Rather linear growth, but on the 2.5-year scale is an even better look at the energy dispensed and number of sessions.

ChargePoint had less then 100 MWh a month in the Summer of 2011. Monthly growth across years seems to be at more or less 50 MWh each month (from 40 to 60 MWh let’s say). 50 MWh of more energy provided to EV drivers is equivalent to over 2,000 fully charged Nissan LEAFs.

The average number of daily charging session grew from over 1,000 in October, 2011 to almost 7,000 in October 2013. On average, each month has 7,500 more charging events than the previous one.

Energy dispensed a month in MWh

Energy dispensed a month in MWh

Average number of sessions per day

Average number of sessions per day

At over 200,000 charging sessions a month and with well over 50,000 users, we see that on average electric car owner who is using the ChargePoint network uses a point once a week. Sadly, we don’t know this info about the majority of EV owners who are outside of ChargePoint’s 54,000 users.

On the other side, one charging point is currently used 15 times a month.

On average, one session consumes now over 7 kWh of energy, so charging times are likely 1 to 2 hours on average.

The question is, will this linear trend continue in 2014 and should it be linear when electric vehicles sales are growing closer to an exponential rate?

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11 Comments on "ChargePoint Network – 2.5-Years of Linear Growth – 54,000 Users – Over 7,000 Daily Charging Sessions"

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They have a good network. I have used their chargers a number of times. It is great that the handles lock in place instead of lying on the floor like blink L2 units.

It would be wonderful if the charger reservation takes off. I never have “range anxiety”, but I do get “charger anxiety”, in that I fear when I get to the my destination, the chargers will be ICEd or broken or unavailable.

Charger anxiety is the #1 reason why I take an ICE vehicle on a trip that is too long for a single charge.

Yeah. I really wish that it were possible to see when the last time a station was used successfully, too. That way you’d have a much better idea of whether or not a station is actually functional or not.

Yes, it is valuable to know the last time a station was used successfully. I use plugshare.com for that.

Recargo now

I have had limited use of chargepoint but my perception is that they are much better run than blink. However, if they have 14K points and 7K users per day, that points to a very dismal statistic. A given point is used every other day. There simply is no “glass half full” way to look at that.

The elephant in the room – is their business sustainable at this utilization. What is the loaded break even point for them? I think it has to be higher than that. Frankly, I’m not sure there is a profitable business in running a charging network. I don’t see charging for an hour somewhere when I can plug in overnight at home.

You raise a valid concern: at the current rates, these stations cannot pay for themselves.

I expect is that a combination of things will happen
– EVSEs will become cheaper (especially L2)
– some businesses will add charging to attract clients (e.g. I may be a good addition for a gym or restaurant)
– businesses who want to have an EVSE anyway, will join ChargePoint to manage the EVSE and get at least some money, which is better than nothing
– EV users will understand we have to pay extra for this convenience, just like we pay more for soda in a restaurant than it costs at Costco.

That’s already the case in the Netherlands. Charging at charging stations (swipe a card, they do roaming with different providers) is costing you around 30% more than charging at home. I think that makes sense. Pricing fluctuates, but as the business model will get more clear the pricing will become more clear.

Case in point: our business put in a few charge locations (two chargers/four vehicles). Company paid for the install, Chargepoint handles the payment system. I think the way it’s structured, our company gets MOST of the fee, but Chargepoint gets a cut for handling the transaction. Thus, it cost Chargepoint nothing, and they get recurring revenue, albeit likely pretty insignificant.

Current problem is the realization that the fee per charging session is high enough to dissuade network station owners from offering fair per kWh pricing. In NYC many chargers are .49/kWh.

The best solution seems to still be offering 120V plugs, which are cheap, for day long plugging. To repair costs very little and no fees needed. Implementing dozens of charging spots is about a thousand or three for 10 plugs if enough electric service is already in place. What does it take to install 10 30A EVSEs. But setting up L2 charging requires wiring and service as if all stations were concurrently pulling max amps. Can get costly and that is why so few stations exist and are so easily ICEd out by regular cars.

Does Chargepoint provide data by major cities? Love to publish the data for metro Atlanta on my Twitter micro blog (@AtlantaEV). Thanks Mark. Great story and encouraging trends.

There is a lot of interesting information here, but there are many footnotes about Chargepoint’s self-reported stats that should be added: 1) Over 10,000 of those charge stations were installed for free under the Chargepoint America Program funded by the DOE and the CEC. Many of the places where those units were installed are places where they were never likely to get any use whatsoever. People just took them because they were free, and in fact, many of them are now out of service because the customers didn’t see a need to fix them when they broke down. 2) Over 80% of the charge stations that were installed under the Chargepoint America Program were residential units and homeowners who were awarded one of these free charge stations had to sign up for an account with Chargepoint. CP is now trying to get those residential customers to subscribe to their network at home, but are having virtually no success. 3) Of the roughly 4,000 stations that Chargepoint has out there, about 15% of them are on the campuses of Google (reportedly 400 stations) and Apple (reportedly 200+ station) and not available to the public. 4) Chargepoint’s model is not just to… Read more »