ChargePoint Shakes Up Leadership In Continued Effort To Improve
2023 has been a tough year for EV charging companies, and ChargePoint is no exception. But, an announcement from last week shows us that the company continues to work to improve. On top of making financial changes and striving to improve reliability, now ChargePoint is under new leadership.
Things ChargePoint Is Already Working On
Basically, the company had to do two big things earlier in 2023 to keep going and hopefully thrive in the long run.
First, ChargePoint had to tackle charging reliability issues. The sad fact is that EV drivers and automotive manufacturers both have lost faith in non-Tesla EV charging. It’s not the “strand you in the middle of nowhere” disaster that some unscrupulous YouTubers and clickbait writers would lead you to believe, but it’s not good either. This led almost every manufacturer in the United States to ditch CCS and move future vehicles to Tesla’s NACS plug, and to arrange for access to Tesla’s network.
ChargePoint is rolling with the punches, and they’re offering a NACS plug retrofit for existing and new stations. But, a NACS plug on a broken charging station is like lipstick on a pig, so ChargePoint’s got to get that pork cooked one way or another. The company’s managers and engineers created a program earlier this year that should solve the problems, but it’s going to take time.
The other issue is that the company has been facing financial problems. Property owners usually end up owning the station, and they expect to get a cut of the revenue, and growth of non-Tesla EVs is slower than hoped. And with a better network at their disposal, Tesla drivers don’t pull up to a ChargePoint station as much as the company would probably like. Plus, EV adoption is still in its early days.
So, the ChargePoint team had to cut some deals with creditors and investors earlier this year to make sure they have the headroom to keep operating and let reliability improvements take hold. Specifics on how much runway has been added aren’t readily available, but it appears to be measured in years.
Now, A Leadership Shakeup
With this background discussed, it’s time to talk about the company’s latest announcement: a new CEO and a new CFO.
Rick Wilmer has been appointed as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of ChargePoint, effective November 16, 2023. In addition to this role, Mr. Wilmer has also joined the ChargePoint Board of Directors.
Since joining ChargePoint as the Chief Operating Officer in July 2022, Mr. Wilmer has been responsible for various key areas including Product Management, Development, Engineering, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Customer Experience. With over 30 years of experience in global technology, operations, and customer support, Mr. Wilmer brings valuable business and financial expertise to ChargePoint. He has held leadership positions in companies like Pliant Technology, Leyden Energy, Mojo Networks, and Chowbotics, serving as the CEO in each of these organizations.
“I am honored to be appointed CEO, and I am excited to guide ChargePoint into our next chapter of growth and evolution,” said Mr. Wilmer. “I look forward to working with our amazing employees, customers and partners to make a positive difference for them and the planet we all share.”
Wilmer succeeds Pasquale Romano, who had been in the top dog seat since 2011. Mr. Romano will continue to provide guidance as an advisor during the leadership transition to keep the company form going into the gutter, so it’s a good sign that the CEO wasn’t sacked in a nasty way or escorted off-premises by security.
On top of this news, ChargePoint announced the departure of Chief Financial Officer Rex Jackson, effective immediately. Mansi Khetani, currently serving as ChargePoint’s Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis, has been appointed as the interim CFO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.
The exact reasons for the change in leadership were not given, but with the company’s existing financial and reliability problems well-known, it may be a case of lost confidence. Sadly, it’s a holiday weekend, so we probably won’t hear back from ChargePoint with more details until the PR people get back into the office on Monday (assuming they’re willing to talk more about such a sensitive topic).
Still Plenty Of Reasons To Be Optimistic
I generally like to be fair and not publish too much doom and gloom about companies in the EV industry. We need to keep in mind that with all of the EV adoption that needs to happen we’re going to need every charging station we can get (especially in the United States). I don’t own stock in any EV charging company, so I’m not one of those people who would love to shoot ChargePoint in the foot to personally benefit.
My honest appraisal of the situation is that the company has a lot of good things going for it. I’m no expert investor or financial analyst, but from what I know about the company’s technological achievements, I think there’s cause for optimism.
First, when it comes to speed, ChargePoint’s like Lightning McQueen right now. Speed? ChargePoint is speed. Nobody else is offering 500 kW charging outside of limited-access experimental charging stations meant for Tesla Semis and such. They’ve pulled ahead on that in a big way.
The other ace in the ChargePoint deck is partnerships. These fast chargers are going in at Mercedes-Benz charging stations, for one. Also, photos from under construction Walmart charging stations show that Walmart chose ChargePoint for that new network. Both of these networks are going to be huge, but Walmart’s charging network is going to be a vital ingredient in the future of EV charging.
Finally, I’ve seen real progress in dealing with the biggest problem: neglectful station owners. The company now encourages everyone to get a service plan instead of hoping they’ll be willing to spend money to fix things up later. Last I heard, this figure was at 60% of station owners and rising. So, repeats of what I’ve seen in Moab are becoming less and less likely.
Between all of these things, I think the new CEO and CFO have a good chance of success, mostly because they now have something to work with.
Featured image by ChargePoint