Ecotality the company that runs the Blink Network of EV Charging stations recently announced that it would seek bankruptcy protection. I’ve noticed slow downs and temporary interruption to their website recently. This Labor Day weekend the site is totally unresponsive. The problems started yesterday when I could not login to see my account details, today the site is totally out of commission.
Some companies come out of bankruptcy protection OK, but if services are suffering just a few weeks into their restructuring efforts, this does not bode well for the future.
It’s a shame because I have always been impressed with their responsive customer service, they seem to value their customers, so I’d like to see them succeed. The business model is weak however. Revenue from public charging stations is likely quite small. A dollar per hour won’t make them rich, and charging more would result in next to no takers for their charging service. One strategic error they made was to place charging stations at retail outlets, which are great for high visibility/branding, but people spend an hour or less at many of these locations, such as McDonalds. I believe they should have targeted employers where someone would be plugged in most of the day. Workplace charging is a great way to encourage people to consider an EV for the first time and thereby spur adoption of EV’s.
The worry now is that they will not be able to afford to maintain the network of charging equipment. They have stated that this is their first priority, but all the will in world will not keep the receiver away. I wonder if ChargePoint are eying a possible opportunity to buy the assets of Ecotality and expand their network rapidly. ChargePoint have a better web presence, and their equipment is very professional looking.