Wells Fargo Partners With ChargePoint & EnTech To Speed EV Charging Buildouts

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Putting in charging stations, especially DC fast charging (Level 3) stations, can be a bit like pulling teeth. Getting the design done can be a hassle. Permits are another hassle. Dealing with electric utilities can be a very big hassle. But, by far, the biggest hassle is finding a way to pay for them. As I’ve covered before after attempts to work in the charging business myself, the sad truth is that nobody wants to pay for the stations.

It may sound absurd to EV drivers, but stores aren’t itching to get EV drivers in the door, especially in rural areas. They don’t see EVs, largely because there’s no charging in the area. So, they assume that only people in California or in larger cities must have them. Charging companies don’t want to take a chance on any station that they aren’t pretty sure will be profitable soon, so areas that already have a lot of EV drivers get the love. This leaves government to do most of the early work of getting EVs into an area.

But, even when there’s a good chance at profitability (in places where there are already EVs coming through), it isn’t easy to get into EV fast charging. For something really basic that only puts out 50 kW, you’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars. If you want something faster or you want multiple units to serve customers better, you can easily get into hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions.

Scrooge Mcduck Pool GIF

While some people think that small business owners are swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck in Duck Tales, that’s usually not the case. Knowing that there will be a return is one thing, but getting the money together to earn that return is another thing entirely. Even when a business can get the loan to put in the charging, sometimes the delays in construction, power, and revenue can make the whole thing look pretty unpalatable to investors and bankers.

What Wells Fargo, ChargePoint, & EnTech Are Doing To Solve This Problem

Everybody knows that ChargePoint sells and supports charging stations (but usually doesn’t own them). Everybody and their dog and the dog’s fleas knows what Wells Fargo does. So, I won’t waste time telling readers more about that.

Instead, let’s start with EnTech. Among other things, EnTech sells a charging solution called the eSkid. The eSkid is a mostly ready to go charging station that can be loaded on a truck and unloaded at the new host site. It uses modular plates to support different positions and orientations for chargers from ChargePoint, and it ships out pre-wired and ready to basically unload and wire up. This enables a business to start charging customers’ cars within days instead of waiting months.

“EnTech Solutions is pleased to collaborate with Wells Fargo and ChargePoint to easily bring these flexible, configurable EV charging solutions to EV owners and EV fleet managers,” said Wade Leipold, executive vice president with Faith Technologies Incorporated (FTI), the parent brand of EnTech Solutions. “Together, we can contribute to lowering carbon emissions through supporting the growth of electric vehicle utilization.”

This makes it easier for ChargePoint to get a customer up and running, complete with a warranty and service plans that make future revenue a lot more predictable.

“ChargePoint is committed to enabling opportunities for more companies to participate in the transition to electric mobility,” Rich Mohr, senior vice president, Americas, at ChargePoint. “With Wells Fargo and EnTech Solutions, we are delivering an innovative, turn-key charging solution, while simultaneously reducing a barrier to entry by eliminating upfront investments in infrastructure and drastically reducing time deployment.”

This, in turn, opened up possibilities at Wells Fargo. Because it’s modular, somewhat moveable, and goes online relatively quickly, the eSkid is easier to finance. So, Wells Fargo is offering financing that’s built around the eSkid solution and is easy to apply for. Because Wells Fargo already knows about how the eSkid works, they don’t need so much information from the business applying for a loan to put the thing in.

“For many years our clients have told us a significant impediment to the deployment electric vehicles in their fleets is the availability and installation of charging equipment and infrastructure,” says John Crum, head of Transportation for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. “We are excited to collaborate with industry leaders such as ChargePoint and EnTech Solutions to bring a streamlined financing program for the rapidly deployable, eSkid charging stations that will provide opportunities for companies to become more sustainable.”

The end result is that a business can not only get EV charging a lot easier, but a lot faster in most places. But, most importantly, in many cases this program will take it from the realm of the impossible into the realm of the possible.

A Great Industry Trend Is Afoot

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen charging stations go modular for faster installations. In a previous story from late last year, we covered EVgo’s efforts to offer something similar, and we’re already seeing stations go up faster and easier from that.

Image provided by EVgo.

The biggest ongoing news item is EVgo’s partnership with Delta (a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer which builds the chargers), GM, and Pilot/Flying J Truck Stops. Between these companies, the funding is happening, a great site with amenities is available, and things go together faster to provide reliable charging for EV drivers (really, we’re the fifth partner in many ways!).

It’s also well-known that Tesla is getting pretty damned fast at getting charging stations up and running using similar prefabricated techniques. So, this is definitely a trend and not just one or two companies.

What this shows us is that the industry is getting more mature. Instead of having to go through an arduous and awful process of scraping up funds, putting a station design together, and then spending months building the thing and waiting for power, the industry is ready to get people working together fast to get a station in more quickly.

This means that the growth of charging will be a lot faster and more businesses of all sizes are going to get in on the revenue. If that’s not a win-win-win-win, I don’t know what is.

Featured image provided by ChargePoint and EnTech.


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