On a recent Webinar hosted by the San Francisco Bay area LEAF owners, CarCharging (who recently purchased the assets of the bankrupt Ecotality/Blink Network) answered any and all questions posed to them by Webinar participants. The purchase is just a few weeks old, so the representatives were fairly non-committal. This is understandable, the dust has barely settled and they are still trying to figure out how to absorb the Blink Network infrastructure into their network.
One question I posed to them was regarding the free charging offered by charging hosts such as Kohl’s. I asked if Carcharging would continue to support this model with their hosts. A very emphatic and unconditional no came back quickly from the Carcharging representative. The days are numbered for free charging at Blink units.
Another webinar attendee asked who would own the Blink units provided to residential EVProject participants. Under the original program the EVProject would provide and install EV charging equipment at no cost in exchange for usage data. At the end of the government sponsored EV project, ownership of the units was scheduled to transfer to the homeowners. The answer given to the ownership question was very vague and the question of ownership was essentially dodged. The Carcharging representative did commit to continuing the relationship with all EVProject homeowners, but how and what that means has yet to be determined. My interpretation is that they have yet to figure out what their legal position is on many issues and they did state they are in earnest discussions with the DOE on the EVProject and how things should be handled from this point on.
Key takeaways from the webinar are :-
1. Carcharging are committed to resolving reliability issues with Blink units asap. They see reliability as key to their success as a car charging provider. They claim to have made significant strides in this direction already.
2. Carcharging have committed to introduce a single card or payment system to activate any of their units. Carcharging own a smorgasbord of different charging hardware which is as a result of four recent acquisitions. In some cases where obtaining spare parts is difficult they are swapping units for units they can support. How Carcharging are going to achieve a single payment method was not revealed (I don’t think they have figured that out yet), but it is a stated goal Carcharging representatives repeated several times.
3. Carcharging are in discussions with Nissan in establishing a partnership for the installation and management of Sumitomo DC fast charging equipment in the US.
The Webinar raised as many questions as it answered, but there were some positive takeaways and reasons to be optimistic regarding how this buyout will flesh out. Here’s hoping for a positive outcome.
Thanks to the SF Bay Area LEAF owners association for hosting, organizing and advertising this Webinar.