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EV interest is 'truly surging because of gas prices,' EVgo CEO says

·Assistant Editor
·4-min read
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U.S. drivers seem to be giving electric vehicles another thought as gas prices put them off internal combustion engines (ICE) for the time being.

For the third day in a row, the national gas price average has hit a new record high. As of Thursday, the average price for a gallon of gas was $4.41, according to AAA. It's no wonder, then, why Google search interest for electric vehicles and where to find them has also surged.

“The appetite is well and truly surging because of gas prices, in part, but also because there are so many new offerings,” EVgo (EVGO) CEO Cathy Zoi told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “We’ve now got, in the next 24 months, 50 different models of EVs coming to market. So no matter whether you want to drive an SUV or a pickup truck or a compact car, you have a choice with EVs, and they're coming in many manufacturers.”

To Zoi's point, legacy manufacturers and new startups alike have been announcing and rolling out new models at every price point over the past year.

Tesla (TSLA), which leads the U.S. in EV market share, reported another quarter of record vehicle deliveries. Meanwhile, major ICE players like Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) are finding huge demand as they pivot to the electric market. (Ford has even stopped accepting orders for its new F-150 Lightning pickup truck.)

All signs point to 'go' for EV makers — and the electric infrastructure providers that support them.

First electric vehicle charging station installed by NRG Energy (eVgo Freedom Station)(Photo: Business Wire)
First electric vehicle charging station installed by NRG Energy (EVgo Freedom Station). (Photo: Business Wire via Getty Images)

The 'Wayne Gretzky' of electric vehicle adoption

EVgo, a fast-charging developer founded in 2010, has been rapidly deploying new stations across the country to capitalize on this "once-in-a-century transformation of a major sector," Zoi said.

“We expect to deploy at least 10,000 fast chargers over the next several years, and... we’re now at about 1,700, 1,800 fast chargers,” she said. “It’s a wonderful, fun, interesting, accelerating part of the growth curve for us.”

Historically, the company has chosen to invest in markets where electric car adoption was highest, which primarily meant California. The company claims that 80% of Californians live within a 10-mile radius of an EVgo charger.

But EVgo is looking to expand its reach, especially now that automakers and the Biden administration are doubling down on the electrification of the auto sector.

“We only invest where we can achieve a double-digit return,” Zoi said. “But now we’ve got car companies who are excited to sell the vehicles everywhere, so we’re building everywhere.”

A map of existing and planned EVgo fast chargers from the EVgo earnings presentation. (EVgo)
A map of existing and planned EVgo fast chargers from the EVgo earnings presentation. (EVgo)

In its latest quarter, the company noted it was focusing its growth in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana. Many of its new charging stations will be built in existing retail locations in partnership with companies like Chase, Meijer, Whole Foods, and WaWa.

The expansion in the Midwest isn't too surprising given the proximity to the new EV plants that General Motors is building in Michigan and battery plants that Ford is building in Kentucky and Tennessee.

This comes after the Biden administration released a $5 billion plan to boost EVs and get more chargers into remote areas, where private investment may be more hesitant to venture. In any case, there is a concerted push by the industry and government to achieve Biden's goal of making EVs account for half of all vehicle sales by 2030 as part of a broader target to lower carbon emissions.

Edmonton Oilers' center forward Wayne Gretzky (99) is seen in action against the Los Angeles Kings, 1982.  (AP Photo)
Edmonton Oilers' center forward Wayne Gretzky (99) is seen in action against the Los Angeles Kings, 1982. (AP Photo)

“What we try to do is kind of the Wayne Gretzky thing,” Zoi said, referencing the hockey legend's quip that he skates to where the puck is going, not where it has been.

“We try to build infrastructure just ahead of demand, and right now in much of America the demand is growing, but it’s low," she added. "So that federal funding can help support companies like EVgo to do that, to build ahead of when there’s enough EVs on the road, particularly in rural areas and corridors.”

Grace is an assistant editor for Yahoo Finance.

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