With the alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit set to expire at the end of this year, what are the prospects for the expansion of electric-vehicle charging networks in the United States? During today's OnPoint, David Goodridge, vice president of 350Green, discusses his company's latest projects and the impact a lapsed tax credit would have on the future of his company and industry.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is David Goodridge, vice president of 350Green. David, thanks for coming on the show.
David Goodridge: Glad to be here, Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: David, 350Green has just unveiled the first outlet of its public EV charging network in the Baltimore and DC Metro area. Why have you chosen this area and, in particular, the Pentagon City Mall for your first venture out?
David Goodridge: Good question. We share data with the model manufacturers to see where people want to drive EVs and where that demand is coming from. DC is one of 18 major metropolitan areas in the country where there's strong enough demand. 350Green is in the business of putting out the public charging stations in the public space, so whether it be Walgreens or a Simon Property at that mall, we want to put them where drivers already go to make it convenient for them and to build confidence for them so when they drive they know a place to fill up.
Monica Trauzzi: So, how many users are you expecting to have initially?
David Goodridge: Well, the broad rollout in the Baltimore/DC area is 47 chargers, a mix of level II and level III. We're going to strategically locate them at places where there's high-volume, where people are driving, really, where any time they park for longer than 20 minutes. The locations we decide on and we partner with the best retailers out there, Simon Property Group and Walgreens. The demand we see, by 2015 there will be about a million vehicles on the road. In the Baltimore/DC area, I'd say at least 50,000 in the next couple of years.
Monica Trauzzi: Do you have competitors? Does your company have competitors and how does your business model differ or compare to what else is going on in the country?
David Goodridge: Good question. We're pretty unique. 350Green is in the infrastructure business and we've already thought ahead to the consumer, because we're really consumer driven. We want to create a model that makes sense to the consumer. So, if I buy a Nissan Leaf, I want to know that I can go somewhere in the public space to charge. So, we're a service provider. We have many manufacturers with whom we partner, both for the level II and the level III, and some actually -- SemaConnect is based here in the Baltimore/DC area. But our model is different. We've thought out two years down the road to a model that's very similar to a cell phone model, where we want to have a subscription so that a customer signs up for $70 to $90 a month and they have the confidence where they can charge in the public space and not be worried about the future of being left on the side of the road or having that range anxiety, which is so common.
Monica Trauzzi: One of the things we always hear against electric vehicles is infrastructure and that there are major infrastructure challenges --
David Goodridge: Right.
Monica Trauzzi: Ahead of us and it sounds like you're trying to tackle some of those challenges, but it's a costly venture. So, how costly is it to construct these units and is it cost prohibitive at this point to do wide-scale deployment?
David Goodridge: It's not cost prohibitive. Currently several companies out there are enjoying the benefits of a tax benefit. Currently, in Congress right now, there's a tax credit that expires at the end of this year. We've found it to be extremely valuable to date because it's market driven. Unlike a loan guarantee, it's market driven in that there is investment on our part, so there's an investment for the equipment, as well as the installation which services the local community in terms of industry and jobs. However, the total business model, when you pull it all together, it brings the manufacturers together, it brings the developers together, it brings the consumers together and right now we're enjoying a great benefit with that tax credit.
Monica Trauzzi: So, if the alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit were not to be extended, what does that then mean for your company's future plans? Does that start to change?
David Goodridge: It shouldn't change it too much. We asked Congress to extend it to 2015, similar to what's been done with the hydrogen equipment. They have a tax credit that goes out, a benefit of $200,000 for that type of equipment. We're asking for the same thing from Congress. But to your question, it shouldn't affect us dramatically because there's such demand from the retailers, from the consumers to have EV infrastructure in place and we feel 350Green is well prepared.
Monica Trauzzi: Are you putting the cart before the horse a bit here? EVs haven't really saturated the market place. Is it a bit premature?
David Goodridge: It's not premature. We want the consumer -- it's kind of the chicken and the egg too. We want the consumer to feel confident that when they buy a car, they're going to be able to charge in the public space. Right now, if I were to buy a Nissan Leaf and there's no charging stations, it wouldn't give the consumer in a kick start to go buy a Nissan Leaf. We want to have the infrastructure out there and, yes, it is a leap of faith, but we see the demand. All the manufacturers are producing cars out there. We're just getting the infrastructure in place and we see it's very important to do so.
Monica Trauzzi: Just last week there was some negative press relating to these Chevy Volt and fires starting with the batteries. How concerned are you that electric vehicle power systems are not yet ready for prime time and how does that trickle down to your business?
David Goodridge: Well, it's an unfortunate thing that happened. We're not an auto manufacturer. I don't know too much about the manufacturers and it's their problem. It has us concerned a little bit, but we're confident that the momentum we have so far with building out the infrastructure, not only 350Green, but other service providers out there. It's a blip. You know there's going to be a million cars on the road in five years and we'll certainly learn from it, the manufacturers will, but it really doesn't concern us too much.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, we'll end it there. Thank you for coming on the show.
David Goodridge: Thanks very much.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
[End of Audio]