What the future of EV charging holds, according to the CEO building it

The charging network is expanding alongside the EV market. And it’s poised for a growth spurt.

Man charging EV

ChargePoint makes and sells EV charging infrastructure to independent businesses.

Photo: ChargePoint

Electric vehicles will never be mainstream without a charging network that grows in tandem. Luckily, that’s already happening. And supply chain hiccups aside, the two are likely to keep pace, according to ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano.

ChargePoint makes and sells EV charging infrastructure to independent businesses, then adds them to an online network that shows customers where they are. The company’s chargers form the largest online network of independently owned stations in the U.S., and it has expanded internationally as well.

When Romano took the helm at ChargePoint over a decade ago, he believed in his bones that demand for a charging network would continue to build, even at a time when EVs were a rarity on the road. While that increase in EV demand has mostly come to pass, building out the charging network is still in beta mode. That’s set to change this decade, though.

ChargePoint’s new report on the future of electric mobility predicts that we are approaching a tipping point for EV adoption, one that utility policy and rate designs will evolve to accommodate. It also predicts that the search for somewhere to fuel (read: charge) will soon be a digital experience governed largely by apps, and that home charging will take off.

In light of the report’s launch on Tuesday, Romano sat down with Protocol for an interview about his expectations for the coming years, including whether charging networks will grow quickly enough to accommodate the surge of demand that he anticipates.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Do you think we’re approaching a tipping point when it comes to EV adoption?

What's actually happening is a demand shock, not a supply shock. A long time ago, we defined the EV tipping point as the threshold where we have electric choices as consumers, regardless of what kind of car we drive. Do you drive a pickup, a compact car, a luxury sedan or an SUV? How much did it cost? When we have electric choices that cover not all but most of what consumers drive, then we will have a prayer of penetrating the mass market. And I think we’re there.

But auto manufacturers have had to pick up production capacity. They have to buy factory equipment and the materials to make these things. Production capacity doesn’t grow on trees. So they make a fixed number of cars per year, and they want to transform some percentage of those to electric and then every year increase that share until they aren’t making gas cars anymore. That’s a multiyear planning cycle. I don’t think auto manufacturers expected demand to flip this hard.

The thing is, there's plenty of material in the Earth to support what we're doing: You're already seeing great battery recycling capability starting to get operationalized. I think we'll hit some hiccups and misalignment in timing, but it’ll all work itself out.

Have issues with the supply chain caused any problems for ChargePoint in recent years?

You can make a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy and you’re being hit by supply chain issues. If you make a physical thing, you’re being hit by supply chain issues. So yes, we’ve been affected. We’ve managed it well, so it hasn’t kept us from growing handsomely, but it's a struggle every day. And the reason is that there’s a randomness to it. You don't know what is going to go short, and then it goes short instantly.

I don't think auto manufacturers expected demand to flip this hard.

In the Charging Forward report, you say that the ChargePoint network has grown by more than 300% in the last five years; that roughly parallels EV sales in Europe and North America, which grew 340% in that same period. Do you anticipate that the expansion of ChargePoint’s network will happen at roughly the same pace as purchases of EVs?

When you zoom way back, there isn't a whole lot of surging that's going to happen. When you look at a vertical within EV charging, you might get a policy that could cause the network to grow more quickly. So you might have a policy campaign like [the Biden administration’s initiative] the NEVI program that will affect the build ahead or other things that can cause some ebb and flow. But in totality, the network will be built at the same pace as cars, generally. And it has been for 15 years. You might have a year where something bursts ahead a little bit, but if you average over just a few years, the network will pretty much grow with cars. And it doesn't need to go any faster.

I’ve heard concerns about access to charging for people living in multifamily housing, like apartments in big urban centers where garages are thin on the ground. Can you speak to those worries and how they might factor into the development of the ChargePoint network?

One of our fastest growing segments is our multifamily program. It’s a very simple problem, and a very cost-effective problem. We have a charging-as-a-service program for multifamily dwellings, so we can even cover a lot of the last little bits of hardware and bill the tenant directly for the electricity, just like if it were your house, but instead, you’re renting it.

Where policy comes in is that a lot of utilities are starting to realize charging where a customer lives is important. So they say, “We’ll cover everything up to the point of that first charger: the line extension, the upgrade of that utility infrastructure.” Programs like that tend to work out pretty well as an example of the companionship between a utility and a company like us. Our prediction is that it's going to become a competitive problem for most apartments and condominiums within five years or so. That's why they build gyms, that's why they put pools in. They'll have to have charging, and it’s easier than building a gym or putting a pool in. Already, enough are gaining that awareness, especially in areas where there is high EV penetration. So I think that problem is going away.


Slack’s rallying cry at Dreamforce: No more meetings

It’s not all cartoon bears and therapy pigs — work conferences are a good place to talk about the future of work.

“We want people to be able to work in whatever way works for them with flexible schedules, in meetings and out of meetings,” Slack chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua told Protocol at Dreamforce 2022.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dreamforce is primarily Salesforce’s show. But Slack wasn’t to be left out, especially as the primary connector between Salesforce and the mainstream working world.

The average knowledge worker spends more time using a communication tool like Slack than a CRM like Salesforce, positioning it as the best Salesforce product to concern itself with the future of work. In between meeting a therapy pig and meditating by the Dreamforce waterfall, Protocol sat down with several Slack execs and conference-goers to chat about the shifting future.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.


SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.


These two AWS vets think they can finally solve enterprise blockchain

Vendia, founded by Tim Wagner and Shruthi Rao, wants to help companies build real-time, decentralized data applications. Its product allows enterprises to more easily share code and data across clouds, regions, companies, accounts, and technology stacks.

“We have this thesis here: Cloud was always the missing ingredient in blockchain, and Vendia added it in,” Wagner (right) told Protocol of his and Shruthi Rao's company.

Photo: Vendia

The promise of an enterprise blockchain was not lost on CIOs — the idea that a database or an API could keep corporate data consistent with their business partners, be it their upstream supply chains, downstream logistics, or financial partners.

But while it was one of the most anticipated and hyped technologies in recent memory, blockchain also has been one of the most failed technologies in terms of enterprise pilots and implementations, according to Vendia CEO Tim Wagner.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Latest Stories