🔋 Seizing the EV Charging Revolution
Miami’s OBE Power is making EV charging cheaper, more convenient
Miami-based OBE Power is betting on the EV revolution by identifying key areas for car charging and assuming all upfront costs. Learn how they do it in this interview.
Spotify revolutionized the music industry and built a global empire with 500 million users through music-as-a-service. Spotify worked out license agreements with record labels, assembled a vast digital library, and provided people with the service of being able to listen to whatever, whenever.
Amid the ongoing transition to electric vehicles across the U.S., a Miami startup is trying its own version of the concept. This time it’s EV charging-as-a-service and it’s being led by OBE Power.
Rather than requiring apartment buildings or shopping malls to spend large sums to install EV charging infrastructure for customers, OBE Power is taking on all of that expense and risk. In return, it takes a cut of the proceeds from people charging up their cars.
It’s a bet on the EV revolution. OBE Power is aiming to capture a slice of the car charging market that’s anticipated to grow dramatically. By year’s end, OBE Power expects to be operating in four states, and growing by using a model it hopes can help differentiate itself from competitors.
“We are not selling hardware, we are not selling software,” said Alejandro Burgana, Co-founder and Managing Partner of OBE Power. “That is what the vast majority of the companies in this industry are doing today.”
We sat down with Burgana for our latest Opportunity Miami Interview, which you can watch here.
SEIZING THE REVOLUTION
Around the world and across the U.S., the transition to EVs is underway.
Tesla pioneered the wave and has become the most valuable car company in the world. Incumbent car makers are rapidly putting out EV models with long-term plans to eventually only sell EVs. Even as EV enthusiasm has cooled slightly this year for reasons from high prices to range anxiety (that is, worries about finding a place to recharge as the network of EV charging stations is still being built out), there is a widespread belief in the long-term trend.
By one estimate, the number of zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads will grow from about three million today to more than 40 million by the end of the decade.
Florida is a leader in this transition. California is the front-runner, by far, in EV registrations. But Florida ranks second in the U.S. “And 70 percent of those vehicles are here in South Florida,” said Burgana, noting how every day we see countless EVs on greater Miami roads.
For Burgana, he’s long been intrigued with electric, emission-free mobility. More than a decade ago, he got the second EV in Miami. He fondly recalls “the moment I felt the torque, the silence, the power” of an electric vehicle. The societal benefits appealed, too. “It is important we reduce our carbon footprint for transportation,” he said.
In 2017, after starting several EV-related efforts, he launched OBE Power. The company leaned into charging-as-a-service as a key differentiator. It’s an approach that puts a premium on identifying places where there will be significant car charging activity since OBE Power is assuming all of the upfront costs.
“We need to make sure that our deployment strategy is being followed by real people actually connecting and plugging into our charging stations,” Burgana said.
They have launched charging locations at apartment buildings, offices, and government facilities. “We identify properties that are suitable for good demand levels for charging. We approach them,” Burgana said.
WHERE PEOPLE LIVE, WORK, PLAY AND LEARN
Unlike the decades-old model for gas-powered cars, where gas stations were established on street corners and along highways for people to go to fill up, the bet is that the model will be different in the decades to come for EVs. Namely, most people won’t drive to stations to charge; instead charging stations will be in locations that are part of daily life.
Burgana said the vast majority of charging will happen at a “combination of where people live, work, play and learn.”
The number of places needed to meet EV charging demand is expected to be much greater. A McKinsey report estimates that by decade’s end, the US will need 20 times more car charging stations than it has now.
Therein lies the business opportunity. Identifying the places lots of people with EVs will be and getting chargers established as quickly as possible. From its home base in Miami, Burgana has built operations across Florida and into Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia. Plans are afoot to enter Ohio too.
Looking ahead, Burgana said the privately held company has enough capital to expand its network ten times over the next three years.
Ultimately, he hopes it will be part of creating communities that are “cleaner, more sustainable. Quieter too - as noise pollution goes down dramatically,” said Burgana.
Meanwhile, the growth of OBE Power comes as Miami is starting to build a niche in EV car charging with the likes of Blink Charging. Earlier this month the publicly-traded company, which is based in Miami Beach and expanding across Latin America, announced its best quarter ever and increased its revenue outlook for 2023 to between $110 and $120 million.
If all goes well, with the likes of OBE Power and Blink Charging, Miami can be a leader in the EV revolution for years to come.
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