Ecotality, ChargePoint to Link Electric Car Charging Networks

Ecotality Inc. and ChargePoint Inc., providers of electric car charging stations, will form a venture to share customers and allow billing across their networks.

The venture will give drivers access to about 15,000 locations, or about 90 percent of public chargers in the U.S., according to Ecotality Chief Executive Officer Ravi Brar.

“It increases the number of chargers available to someone without them having to go around joining multiple networks,” Brar said yesterday by telephone. Ecotality has about 4,000 charging ports, while ChargePoint has about 11,000, he said.

Collaboratev LLC, the venture that Ecotality and ChargePoint are investing in, will interconnect the monitoring and billing systems of both companies through a new platform that other car-charging providers will also be able to join, according to an e-mailed statement.

The partnership addresses one of the primary concerns that consumers have about electric vehicles, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Ali Izadi-Najafabadi.

“Public charging infrastructure accessibility is a critical issue in addressing range anxiety,” which is one of the main challenges that electric vehicles face, Izadi-Najafabadi said in an e-mail. “If interoperability takes hold, then basically EV drivers do not have to worry about traveling to regions where the charging network they are a member of does not have presence,” he said.

‘Roaming’ Partners

Drivers that otherwise would have been out-of-network may incur a fee, comparable to the experience of roaming on a mobile phone or using an ATM operated by a competing bank, Brar said. He declined to say how much either company is investing in the venture or provide the amount of the potential fee.

“It will be an open, industry standard platform, and then others will have the opportunity essentially to interconnect to it,” either through an equity interest or from a “roaming standpoint,” Brar said. “We’re not creating anything proprietary or a walled garden of any sort,” he said.

ChargePoint, based in Campbell, California, has a network of independently-owned charging stations in 14 countries, according to the statement. The closely held company’s investors include units of Siemens AG, Korea’s LS Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ecotality, based in San Francisco, expects to have 5,000 charging points completed by about June, Brar said. Swiss power conversion equipment maker ABB Ltd. owns about 17.8 percent of the company, the data show.

Both companies have received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand their networks.

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