As Auto Industry Goes Electric, Michigan Startup Wants to Dot Nation with PEP Stations
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state and federal tax incentives for these power stations will go to PEP’s customers, and not to PEP. The competition—like San Francisco-based Ecotality or the ChargePoint America program sponsored by Campbell, CA-based Coulomb Technologies and introduced recently by Detroit’s NextEnergy—all benefited from tax incentives. Blain says incentives like the 50 percent federal tax credit for EV charging stations will go to the businesses buying the PEP stations. And while PEP Stations is self-funded so far, it is seeking out investors and strategic partners—but not federal funding, says Blain.
“Right now, we’re competing against a couple of federally funded industry leaders, and it’s tough to compete against free,” Brady Blain says.
Another potential challenge will be convincing enough landlords and business owners that the stations are worth the $5000 price tag. Each unit comes with two chargers and a screen that can be personalized to feature local advertisements. Plus, all data is recorded so the company can access information like how long a vehicle took to charge. Each station has a credit card reader embedded in it as well, though the main draw is not revenue, says McCaffrey, but the ability to attract more customers.
“By providing this amenity for your customers, they’re going to be more inclined to come to your theater if they drive an electric vehicle,” McCaffrey says. Michael DiSalvo, PEP Stations’ chief operating officer, agrees that right now the charging units are primarily amenities that businesses can offer, like water fountains, even though unit owners have the ability to charge per charge.
The bigger profit will come, he says, if a building owner gets one tenant in a 20,000-square-foot office because it has a PEP Station in front of his building. Then, it’s paid for 50 times over, DiSalvo says. Meanwhile, here at the auto show, more and more automakers are unveiling new ways to drink juice. PEP is one of the few companies actually offering a juice bar.