ClipperCreek expands its EV charging business to the NW
By Lee van der Voo
ClipperCreek makes electric vehicle chargers for Tesla owner among others.
ClipperCreek Inc., an Auburn, Calif.-based manufacturer of EV charging stations, is looking to expand sales in Oregon and Washington, and has nabbed Barry Woods, board member of Drive Oregon, to develop its Pacific Northwest territory.
ClipperCreek’s products differ from their Northwest competition in that the company doesn’t involve itself in electricity sales. ClipperCreek stations are a hardware-only product. That differs from many other charging station providers, companies that eventually plan to charge subscription fees, club memberships or mark-ups on electricity at public chargers.
“You have to join the club to use the system. We don’t think the market can sustain that,” said ClipperCreek President Dave Packard. “We don’t think that’s good for the industry.”
The company is instead marketing its chargers direct to manufacturers and to public agencies, companies and retailers interested in offering a charging outlet. Drivers who fuel up can swipe a credit card and pay base rates for electricity, or power can be offered compliments of the installer.
The company has been in business since the early 90s, first operating as Electric Vehicle Infrastructure. Reborn as ClipperCreek in 2006, it is partnered with several auto companies that pair its charging stations with cars, including Mercedes-Benz’s Smart Fortwo Electric, BMW’s Mini E, the Tesla Roadster, Smith Electric Vehicles and Think Global’s Think City.
ClipperCreek hasn’t, however, entered Pacific Northwest Territory in the past or partnered with manufacturers here.
“Even though the cars came here, we didn’t come here to the Pacific Northwest because it was a major focus of the (Department of Energy) money with ARRA grants. Free money is hard to fight,” said Packard, referring to the EV Project and its main electric vehicle charging station supplier ECOtality.
Packard said ClipperCreek is a self-sustaining company with no outside investors and only one $2 million grant for technology upgrades in California.
But as federal money dries up in Oregon and Washington, ClipperCreek is fast advancing on both states to make its Level 1 and Level 2 chargers — slower and more affordable than fast DC chargers — a staple in the region.
Woods, who joined ClipperCreek’s expanding sales teams two weeks ago, said he is targeting fleet managers, employee commuting programs, retailers, vehicle manufacturers, utilities and others to expand business for ClipperCreek. Packard joined him in Portland meetings this week to push off the sales effort.
As the driver of a Nissan Leaf, one who says 10 months of owning it makes driving a combustion-engine car feel like driving a smoking appliance, Woods said he was drawn to ClipperCreek for the simplicity of its business model.
“There’s no need to make it anymore complicated than you have to,” said Woods. “To have an opportunity to work with this company, with their credibility in the marketplace and their nimbleness in the market… I think they’re well positioned."
ClipperCreek has some solid credibility in the industry. Its founding engineers, Mike Rogers and Jason France — now CEO and VP of Engineering at Clipper Creek — helped set industry standards for charging stations and create the first compliant chargers. Teamed with Packard, they began selling charging stations in the early ‘90s when the Zero-Emissions Vehicle standard in California required some automakers to offer electric vehicles. Its earliest installed chargers are 10 years old. While the company dissolved as that phase of the EV industry waned, it was resurrected as ClipperCreek when Chevy, Tesla and other manufacturers began rolling out new electric vehicles.
Since then, ClipperCreek has been supplying residential, fleet and public charging stations, ranging in cost from $795 to $2,200. It has sold 8,000 charging stations since the beginning of 2009, excluding approximately 3,000 stations distributed through a brand new partnership with Chevy Volt.
ClipperCreek's base in California has 10 employees. A sales staff covers eight U.S. territories: Northern and Southern California; the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest United States; Texas and surrounding states; Midwest; and now the Pacific Northwest.
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