Australia’s No.2 electric vehicle charging company, which started business a decade ago in a western Sydney garage, has convinced Pacific Equity Partners to make a $250 million bet on the sector’s growth.

Brendan Wheeler and Sam Korkees started EVSE in the garage of Mr Korkees’ parents after seeing how electric vehicles and chargers were taking off in Amsterdam while on holiday in the famously progressive Dutch city in 2014.

“That was really an eye-opener for us because it really kind of gave us a snapshot of the future. Europe was going embracing a new form of technology,” Mr Korkees told The Australian Financial Review.

“So we quickly raced back to Australia and, you know, we had our hearts set on creating a business that serviced the industry in Australia.” Mr Korkees, a former pharmacist, and Mr Wheeler, a former chiropractor, met on a training course at a medical device company where they both worked.

The private equity giant is buying a majority stake in EVSE, which started in Bossley Park but is now based in Silverwater, and the capital will help fund ambitious expansion plans involving PEP’s 50 per cent-owned smart meter company, Intellihub.

PEP won foreign investment approval for the plunge on Friday.

Intellihub CEO Wes Ballantine said most of the cash from PEP would be used to drive EVSE’s growth and integration with Intellihub’s smart meters to help customers manage their charging to support, rather than undermine, the electricity grid.

Mr Ballantine said the three parties made a compelling investment “triangle”. EVSE is Australia’s fastest-growing charging company and a regular on The Australian Financial Review Fast 100 with sales of 5500 Ocular brand chargers and 2200 ports for its Exploran platform in the past 12 months.

It sits behind Jet Charge, which is seeking to raise $70 million amid a rush to get in on the ground floor of a growth market where two other rival firms – Evie Networks and JOLT Charge – are also seeking to raise capital.

Intellihub is adding about 50,000 smart meters a month as it seeks a bigger role in managing behind-the-meter or consumer energy resources, to benefit the customer and a grid struggling to manage huge growth in solar power and coal generation retirements.

“We have a wonderful EV footprint. We have Australia’s leading smart meter energy retail customers, and we have Australia’s leading private equity party in PEP. And so between those three elements, we believe we now have the capital, the customer relationship and footprint to take EVSE to the next level,” Mr Ballantine said.

Mr Korkees said two-way charging including discharging power into the grid from EV batteries – which are much larger than household batteries – would become part of the service by the middle of next year, likening it to a “final frontier”.

This depended on electricity distributors co-operating, he added.

EVSE started out selling chargers over the web, and grew slowly as Australia’s EV penetration badly lagged other advanced economies. Sales started to pick up around 2018-19.

PEP’s Cameron Blanks said sales are on track to hit 100,000 this year – roughly 9 per cent of total passenger and light vehicle sales – with continued growth year-on-year over the coming decade.

Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari said sales of EVs were about 18 per cent of total sales in comparable overseas markets, so there was a lot of ground to make up.

Mr Ballantine said the partners hoped to deploy the capital in EVSE quickly to “make sure they’re best of breed”.

“We’ll come back after Christmas and execute this with urgency.”

Extracted in full from:  https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/pep-bets-250m-on-ev-charging-firm-founded-in-a-sydney-garage-20231213-p5er4x

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