Brendan Jones brought with him many years of EV charging experience when he joined Blink Charging as the company's Chief Operating Officer in April of 2020. Under his direction, Blink has restructured its existing operations while focusing on growing the team to meet future demand for EV charging infrastructure.
During his tenure, Blink has grown from 42 employees to over 110, and his efforts were rewarded by being named the company's new President and added to the Board of Directors in March of 2021. Before joining Blink, Jones most recently was the COO of Electrify America and was actually the very first employee the company hired.
Before working at Electrify America he worked for Nissan of North America from April 1994 to March 2014 where among other things, he was an integral part of the team working on the Nissan LEAF. After leaving Nissan he was Vice President of OEM Strategy and Development and a Board member for the EVgo network. Jones was also a member of the Board of Directors Executive Committee for the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) in 2016.
So yeah, we'd say Jones knows his way around an EV charging station. We reached out to Blink and set up an interview with Jones to get his thoughts on where the Network is now, and where he wants to take it. Below are the questions I asked and the answers that Jones gave.
What's Blink's biggest focus today?
First off, we're continuing to have great success with our L2 charging unit (the commercial IQ200). It's very reliable, sales keep increasing month over month, quarter over quarter and year over year. We just had our best sales quarter in the history of the company last quarter and we've continued that trend through April. Last year was the best sales year in the history of the company. So each month, each quarter, each year, sales continue to maintain an upward trajectory.
We're vertically integrated on the L2 side. We produce our own unit, we network that unit, we maintain that unit and we operate that unit under the owner-operator model. But for flexibility purposes, we also sell that unit and offer service and maintenance contracts along with it and we network the unit to anyone that wants to be a site host or municipal owner.
If they want to own it we've got a solution, if they want us to own it we've got a solution and if it's something in between was have a solution. - Blink President and COO, Brendan Jones
So that's still a very big focus of the company, but simultaneously we're moving very quickly into the DC fast charging business.
DC Fast Charge
The Blink Network consists mostly of L2 stations, what's the DC fast charge plan?
We have some legacy DC fast chargers out there in the market, and we acquired U-Go charging back in November of last year. Since then, we've won a variety of grants, the most significant was in Vermont where we won a grant for 23 chargers. Five of those are 175 kW DC fast chargers to finish out a corridor there in Vermont. We've also won other grants and RFPs across the country and we're on a bit of a roll. We got San Antonio, we got Ohio, we got Virginia Clean Cities and we have others out there that we're about to announce that's all DC fast charging and we're going to continue to build out our DC fast charging network.
We're also increasing what DC fast charge stations we're offering to the public. Some of the stations now we're coming out with prototype designs that incorporate screens into them for advertising and messaging purposes. We're also trying to create situations where the charging station in it of itself is not standalone and we have a couple of solutions we're working on there with 5G and other added value things to incorporate into the charging stations to improve the versatility of the space and the economics of the station. We also have several acquisitions underway now that we're going to have some pretty big announcements on soon.
Does Blink have plans on International Expansion?
We're doing business in Greece, we're in South America, the Dominican Republic right now and we're expanding into other countries through joint ventures and direct sales opportunities within South America. In Greece, we're using that as a platform on the eastern side of Europe to explore opportunities, and then we're going to be engaged in western Europe so look for some announcements there.
We're also in Israel and we're looking to greatly expand our Israeli business unit because the opportunities for sales in Isreal are exploding because they have very similar mandates that we've seen elsewhere in the world in terms of internal combustion engines being phased out by 2030 and 2035 as well, so that market is going to explode. We have a good presence there today and we're looking to expand upon that.
What about Blinks 1st Gen Legacy units?
Blink's 1st Generation chargers weren't very reliable. How many of them are still in service and do you plan to replace them?
The majority of the remaining legacy units are site-host owner units and the minority are Blink owned. All of the stations that are Blink-owned are scheduled for rip & replace if they haven't already been based on the negotiations with the site host. That's because the site host still has to agree to allow us to upgrade the charger on his or her site. All of that is underway and I've been working on that effort since I started here; to upgrade the old equipment.
The intent is to make sure that none of those units that we inherited from the Ecotality bankruptcy will be in service by the end of this year. Except for the ones that site hosts won't allow us to rip out.
What about residential charging?
It seems Blink has been primarily focused on public charging. I know you have been selling the HQ100 home charger, but now I see I new unit, the HQ150 has appeared on your site. Are you going to be focusing more on home charging in the future?
Yes, we're going to step up our game with residential charging. The reason we're moving to the HQ150 is because sales have just increased exponentially, via Amazon and other reseller agreements. We had quite a bit of inventory of the HQ100s at the beginning of last year and that inventory is almost completely gone.
So we're moving to the 150s and also we'll be introducing a brand new in-home product at a very cost-effective level later in the year. Our plan is to increase sales of the in-home channel exponentially and we've already seen that thus far, that's why we're sold out.
More Blink news to come
When the interview was over Jones let me know that he's going to have some big news to share soon and that he's going to make sure InsideEVs is first to receive it. So stay tuned.