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The profitability of the charging pile industry is difficult and the risk is high, but the long-term

release time:2020-03-11

With the development of new energy vehicles, the scale of charging piles continues to grow. However, due to factors such as long payback periods and low utilization rates, charging pile operating companies are undergoing industry reshuffle. On the one hand, it is difficult to make profits in the charging pile industry, on the other hand, car companies have begun to increase investment in the field of charging piles.

According to data released by the China Electric Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance, in the first 10 months of this year, the increment of charging infrastructure was 336,000, an increase of 39.7% year-on-year. As of October 2019, the total number of public charging stations and private charging stations nationwide was 1.144 million, a year-on-year increase of 66.7%. However, there is still a huge gap in the construction of charging piles.

According to the "Guidelines for the Development of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (2015-2020)" jointly issued by the four national ministries and commissions, by 2020, more than 12,000 centralized charging and replacement power stations and more than 4.8 million distributed charging piles will be added to meet The demand for charging 5 million electric vehicles nationwide.

The charging pile industry is difficult to profit and has a high risk, but the long-term prospects are good (Figure 1)

Industry shuffle

The charging pile industry initially tested the water stage around 2013, and then entered a brutal growth stage. In the past two years, the industry has begun to reshuffle, and many enterprises have been shut down, shut down, or even delisted. Fudian Green Energy, which was once in the first echelon, announced its delisting, and Putian New Energy, which has been established for nine years this year, has been showing up to 55% equity and the position of major shareholder for half a year.

As of October 2019, only 8 charging stations operated by charging companies across the country had more than 10,000 charging stations, 8 operators accounted for 89.8% of the total, and the remaining operators accounted for 10.2% of the total. Among them, Special Calls, Xingxing Charging, and State Grid are in the top three, and only Special Calls and Xingxing Charging claim that their charging sector is starting to make a profit. Yu Dexiang, chairman of Terad, the parent company of Telelink, said in an open letter this year that Telelink has invested more than 5 billion yuan in total over the past five years and invested more than 1 billion yuan in research and development. The cumulative loss in the first four years reached 600 million yuan in 2018 The annual charging network segment finally achieved breakeven.

The "Charging Service Report" released by the China Electric Vehicle Hundred People's Association pointed out that at this stage, charging charging service fees is the main source of income for charging infrastructure operators. A large number of small and medium-sized charging pile companies have not been profitable due to reasons such as high initial construction cost of construction, low charging pile utilization rate, poor working environment leading to low equipment life, and the dispersed maintenance of charging facilities, which brings pressure on operation and maintenance. Among them, the low utilization rate of charging piles is a prominent problem restricting the development of the charging industry. According to the statistics of the previous National Energy Administration, the current utilization rate of charging piles is generally less than 15%.

Problems such as uneven distribution of charging piles and location selection are the main reasons for the low utilization rate. "To achieve profitability, the most important thing is that the charging pile should be built to the right place. It took nearly 2 billion yuan for Star Charging to figure out some ways to build the pile." Shao Danwei, chairman of Star Charging, once said publicly that the charging pile was simply added. Quantity, if the utilization rate is not high, it will become a burden on the enterprise. When entering this market, we must see the later operating costs, power operation and maintenance costs and huge management costs. If you don't build a pair of piles, it will only cause greater assets and greater burden. Enterprises build piles in a reasonable and orderly manner according to the needs of the market, and can quickly recover costs and achieve profitability.

"The threshold of the charging pile industry is not high, and some companies have entered the market blindly, but because of the lack of orders at the beginning, many have entered the market through low-cost competition, which has an adverse impact on the development of the industry, which also makes Some hard-to-operate charging pile enterprises are more difficult to profit, and even hit to a certain extent. "Zheng Jiatu, deputy secretary general of China Charging Union, said that some small enterprises have a relatively simple operation model, and later operations are more difficult. As the cruising range of new energy vehicles increases, their power requirements for charging piles are getting higher and higher, and low-power charging piles charge more slowly, which makes the original charging piles unable to meet the requirements of users, and thus has an impact on operators.

In addition, in the past few years, various charging pile companies have adopted different charging technology standards and interfaces in order to quickly seize the market, which makes it difficult to unify equipment and systems, and most charging facilities cannot be used universally. The APP cannot achieve interconnection and intercommunication, and a phenomenon in which a car owner installs more than a dozen APPs is one of the reasons why no one is willing to take over Putian New Energy. However, due to the inconsistency of standards, BYD, which was unable to open up to the outside world, even gave up the exchange fast charging business.

However, this situation has been improved. According to data from the State Grid Interbank Platform, a unified national new energy vehicle charging service network has basically been established, and major domestic new energy vehicle charging operators have already connected to the national unified service network interlinked platform. Up to now, the platform has covered 31 provinces and 284 cities in the country, of which the highway mileage exceeds 50,000 kilometers. "The platform has initially been equipped with the function of one network across the country, with nearly 400,000 charging piles connected, basically achieving the goal that one App can travel throughout China." Quan Shengming, chairman of State Grid Electric Vehicle Service Co., Ltd. said , The platform has established a real-time monitoring system on the charging pile online, providing 24-hour online service, abnormal charging equipment, can achieve one hour in the city to the scene, high-speed service area does not exceed two hours.

Car companies overweight

Despite the difficulties of profitability and higher risks in the charging pile industry, the layout of car companies in this field is further accelerating. In 2015, SAIC launched the charging platform Anyue Charging. In the same year, BYD launched the charging pile business. BMW also introduced the charging brand "Instant Charging ChargeNow" into China, and jointly built charging piles with domestic charging operating companies. In April of this year, Mercedes-Benz said it would provide a "star" -level charging service covering all of its pure electric vehicle use scenarios, including valet parking charging service, 24-hour emergency charging service and Mercedes-Benz exclusive Charging station etc. In June of this year, Hubject, a charging infrastructure platform jointly established by 7 German giants such as Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen, and four Chinese key CPOs (charging operators, Shenzhen Car Grid, Cloud Fast Charger, Charger, Card Kuka) established a cooperative relationship. Not long ago, Tesla announced the landing of the 2000th super-charging pile in mainland China in Shanghai.

"For us, charging facilities are the most important foundation for customers to use vehicles conveniently, and they can also display the brand image." Zhang Yan, senior executive vice president of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co., Ltd. In addition to household Mercedes-Benz smart charging wall boxes, public charging piles can also be used. The "Benz Charging Star Travel" service can connect more than 70% of the available charging piles on the market in real time. The owner can know the location and status of the public charging pile through the App and experience From real-time monitoring of charging status to one-stop charging service for payment and evaluation.

"The scale of new energy vehicles is relatively small, and car companies use the charging piles to eliminate customers' anxiety about mileage, so as to increase sales." Zheng Jiatu said that when car companies sell cars, they usually send them with the car. In addition, self-built charging piles can also obtain vehicle charging data, driving data, etc., thereby providing vehicle owners with value-added services such as user data analysis, vehicle diagnosis, maintenance, insurance, etc., to achieve the optimization of various technologies and services. In addition, many car companies have set up travel service platforms. The charging pile business is part of their industrial chain, and the vehicles on the travel platform ensure the utilization of charging piles.

In addition, after experiencing market development, the current car companies have become more cautious in selecting charging sites and are moving closer to urban hotspots and transportation routes. For example, the location of the Mercedes-Benz charging station "Star Station" was built at airports in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and other urban hotspots. In the future, services will be laid according to customer needs.

Hunan University professor Huang Hongwen believes that the entry of foreign-funded enterprises and joint ventures means that the domestic charging pile construction has huge market potential and development prospects, and will also stimulate domestic auto companies to further increase their investment in charging pile construction. In addition to car companies, some oil giants and travel companies have also made arrangements in this area.

"After undergoing a reshuffle, the charging pile industry has become more standardized. The main purpose of car companies entering the charging pile is to provide consumers with a better experience, but it also has a certain impact on the charging pile operating companies. After all, car companies Self-built charging piles are more suitable for automotive products. At present, the charging pile gap is still relatively large, and the prospects are good in the long run. Some operating companies have begun to make profits, and the market order is also developing in a healthy direction. "Deputy of China Automobile Dealers Association Secretary-General Lang Xuehong said.

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