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How to invest in EV infrastructure tech: An investor's guide

ICF estimates that a total of 93 million more EVs will be on the road by 2050, thanks to advancements in EV technology and progress in building out the infrastructure to support the demand. It's a space investors are keenly paying attention to, with most aware of the infrastructure hurdles, but maybe not as aware of the emerging innovations that will critically change the EV charging landscape.

Craig Irwin, Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst at Roth Capital Partners and Stacy Noblet, Vice President in Transportation Electrification at ICF join Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the strides needed to revamp the EV industry.

In response to startups building out infrastructure technologies like wireless inductive charging, Irwin said, “it takes a lot of interest and a lot of innovation across a spectrum of solutions.”

“It’s not just about putting chargers in the ground,” Noblet said. “They need to be readily available and that’s a workforce development issue to be able to support not only the installation of the charging stations, but keeping them running.”

For more from this episode of NEXT:
To see the full NEXT episode: Electrifying Roads, click here.
To read Akiko Fujita's article: This Israeli company is building a road that charges electric vehicles in Detroit, click here.
To learn more about Charging while driving: The next step in EVs, click here.

Video Transcript

- Craig, you obviously look at this from an investment standpoint. You're looking at the EV side of things. You're looking at the charging companies as well. Why has it been so difficult to get this infrastructure going, and who do you think is best positioned right now?

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CRAIG IRWIN: Wow. So infrastructure overall is actually starting to go reasonably well, right? There is still real cause for range anxiety if you need to drive from A to B and you get to a charge station, it's down, it's never fun. Had that experience far too many times. Inductive charging as a technology actually is already working pretty well out there in the world.

The one municipal fleet operator Antelope Valley, also based in Los Angeles, has a fully electrified fleet of municipal buses. They run, you know, using both legacy cable charging, as well as inductive charging on many of their longest routes. So it does work. It is more expensive. It is a little bit more difficult to implement, but there are a number of startups here that are working.

And you know, it takes a lot of interest and a lot of innovation across the spectrum of solutions. You know, don't think that these larger companies are not looking at this. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if maybe some of these companies are already pretty well invested here.

- Yeah. Craig, you know, I've learned throughout this story in reporting this that this is a technology that could potentially really expand adoption, but at the same time, it's still in its infancy in terms of coming to market. So if you think about where things stand right now, is it really about DC fast charging that could really supercharge this move towards electrification? And if that's the case, what are those charging companies that are out there that you think really offer value in trying to expand the market?

CRAIG IRWIN: Well, you know, DC fast charging is just one piece of the market right now. The piece of the market that seems to be working better is really level 2. DC fast charging has about $5 billion in federal funding from the infrastructure bill that's slowly, very slowly finding its way into the market. And that's maybe even having a little bit of a detrimental impact on short-term volumes.

So longer-term, this is the solution if you want to drive from LA to New York, you got to do it fast chargers. The biggest companies there are obviously ABB and Tritium, I would say are probably the two that investors can play with. You know, there are a number of other private ones in there. And then, you know, the operators like Electrify America are also very interesting because they provide a practical solution. EVgo as well, a leader there that's doing very well with DC fast charging for consumer vehicles predominantly.

- Stacy, so much of the research that ICF does is really looking ahead to where this landscape could look like 10 years, 20 years down the line, specifically on charging. What does that breakdown look like for you? Is it going to be about home charging? Is it about fast charging? Is it about technology like dynamic charging? How do you see that breaking down?

STACY NOBLET: All of the things. It really is an ecosystem approach for this. You think about where people keep their vehicles where they need to travel to we have to have charging solutions at each of those locations, as well as along the way. And it's not just about putting the chargers in the ground and having them available, it's as we've said, they need to be reliably available. And that's a workforce development issue to be able to support not only the installation of the charging stations, but keeping them running, keeping the sites safe, lit, available.