In April of 2010, a reporter was able to grab a few words with 350Green founder Mariana Gerzanych. At the time, 350Green was a young, scrappy player in the nascent electric vehicle (EV) charging station industry, pitted against the government-backed giants Ecotality and Coulomb. That didn’t stop Gerzanych from making a bold claim, saying that the biggest transition in the 100-year history of the auto industry would happen in the next 24 months.
A year and a half later, that transition is still a building wave and the industry charged with putting in place the infrastructure to support the future of the electric car is just beginning to take shape and make its presence felt.
The previous year and a half has also seen tremendous change for the California-based charging network player. The company has emerged as a larger force in the industry, with plans to enter up to 20 US markets, an impressive collection of strategic partners and a revenue strategy that they hope will start posting impressive numbers sooner rather than later.
EarthTechling recently spoke with 350Green’s VP of Sales, Dave Goodridge, about the state of EV infrastructure and the role that 350Green will play in this dynamic and emerging market.
EarthTechling: What is 350Green’s strategy going forward for the EV charging market?
350Green: 350Green is an EV service provider. We build, create and manage the infrastructure and the equipment for our customers across the country. We see that infrastructure as being a motivation and something that gives consumers the confidence to drive electric vehicles and, of course, charge at our stations. We are a customer-facing business model and at the moment we are at phase one: building out that infrastructure. We’re engaged in building corridors between markets and building out the major US markets we’ve identified.
EarthTechling: After this initial infrastructure is in place, what then?
350Green: We are putting our stations out there with intent. We want to make our stations convenient and usable for the consumer and that also means having a customer payment model that works. We are focused on giving the consumers confidence right now.
EarthTechling: Where do you see 350Green’s place in the EV charging marketplace?
350Green: We are right in there with the big guys and there is still plenty of room to grow in this market. We are a meaningful player and we have figured out the business model that’s going to work — our stations are out there where they’ll have demand and we’ll have a subscription model in place where customers will be able to easily charge at any one of our stations.
EarthTechling: Can you characterize the EV charging infrastructure in the United States right now? Where does it stand in its evolution at this moment?
350Green: We are really still in the industry’s infancy right now, but we have commitments from manufacturers and service providers. We’ve seen just about all of the major auto manufactures commit to electric vehicles in the very near term. Nissan has a plant in Tennessee that will be rolling out 100,000 electric vehicles a year. Ford and Chevy’s electric cars are now in production.
There is substantial investment in electric cars. From out point of view, we are matching them. We are going to markets where people have the cars. Up until very recently, there may have been a couple only a thousand charging stations in the county. We plan to have about 1100 charging stations in the ground this year alone.
EarthTechling: Has the current economy effected the industry?
350Green: The current economy hasn’t helped. It’s not easy. However, we’re confident that we’ll get there. This industry is growing and it will grow at the pace the public wants it to grow. We are getting a lot of demand from everywhere.
EarthTechling: What do you see for the company in the long term?
350Green: We want to be in the right markets at the right time. By roughly around 2015 the number of EVs on the road will be close to 1,000,000. By 2020 there may be up to 27 million EVs on the road in the US. From an infrastructure point of view, by the end of 2012 we want to have usable networks in 15 of the markets we’ve identified — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Boston, New York, Philly, Baltimore and Washington DC.
We plan to have infrastructure in place — which means at least 50 charging stations in each market. That will make our business model work.
EarthTechling: What are you most proud of with 350Green?
350Green: We are very mission based and making a difference from an environmental point of view is a very selfless thing for us. It also makes economic sense. Its in sync with reducing our reliance on foreign oil, with securing our domestic energy policy and reducing our emissions. This is what we as a county want to do.