President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill included a $7.5 billion cash tranche set aside to build a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. Since Biden signed the bill, electric vehicle charging companies have picked up their pace, eager to take advantage of national momentum and federal funding.
Along with ambitious attempts to scale, there has been a wave of consolidation. While some early adopters, like ChargePoint, EVGo, Electrify America, and Tesla, created large national networks of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, they by no means captured the entire market.
A recent flurry of acquisitions in electric vehicle charging describes what consolidation looks like in this industry and which players might come out on top.
Blink Charging on Tuesday finalized its plans to acquire SemaConnect in a $200 million cash and common stock transaction that will add 13,000 EV chargers to Blink’s footprint, 3,800 accommodation slots additional sites and more than 150,000 EV driver members, according to Blink. That brings Blink to 48,000 chargers, the company says, meaning it’s finally on par with ChargePoint, the former leader in EV charging in the US that has 30,000 stations with more 47,000 individual charging ports.
The infrastructure bill also appears to be an incentive for foreign companies to increase their presence in the United States. EV Connect announced on Tuesday that it has been acquired by Schneider Electric, a French energy management and automation company specializing in sustainable development and electric mobility. Schneider is using this acquisition to strengthen its own charging capabilities and footprint in the United States.
Other companies seem eager to expand through mergers and acquisitions. Take ABB, for example.
Earlier this year, ABB’s e-mobility business, which makes fast electric chargers for cars, buses and trucks, announced plans to spend $750 million to expand its operations, largely through acquisitions. In addition to this year’s acquisitions of Numocity in India and Chargedot in China, ABB acquired InCharge Energy, a commercial charging infrastructure company, to strengthen its presence in the North American market.
For a company that doesn’t have millions in venture capital funding or a legacy conglomerate backing it, Blink in particular has seen tremendous success over the past year. The company, which is publicly traded and was founded in 2009, has long been an underdog compared to other major electric vehicle charging companies. However, he uses his earnings organically to pick up businesses.
In addition to SemaConnect, in 2022 Blink also acquired British company EB Charging for $23.4 million. Last year, Blink bought Blue Corner for $24 million in cash and stock, and in 2020 the company acquired BlueLA and U-Go for undisclosed amounts.
Buying SemaConnect is a buy to watch out for, as it specifically allows Blink to take advantage of Biden’s infrastructure bill and could signal the direction of future strategic acquisitions by Blink and others. Not only will Blink take over SemaConnect’s in-house research and development, hardware design, and manufacturing capabilities, but it will also get the company’s manufacturing facility in Maryland. Blink’s chargers aren’t currently made in the US, so now the company will be officially compliant with Buy American mandates, allowing it to tap into that $7.5 billion.
“While we have actively pursued manufacturing in the United States, it would take significant time and resources,” a Blink spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Using the newly acquired SemaConnect facility significantly reduces these variables and qualifies us much faster and more cost effectively.”
Notably, even with the SemaConnect acquisition, Blink’s deployed charger network is mostly Tier 2, which takes around six to 12 hours to fully charge a vehicle. Blink has at most 100 DC Fast chargers, all of which are first-generation, according to the company. While that’s a start, it’s nothing compared to Tesla’s. Globally, the luxury car maker EV has more than 30,000 charging ports, almost all of them DC Fast. Historically, they were only available for Tesla vehicles, but the company is slowly opening up its network to non-Tesla electric vehicles.
As the electric vehicle industry continues to consolidate, expect acquisitions involving companies with manufacturing capabilities in the United States, as well as companies that find innovative ways to market and scale DC chargers. Fast.