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Automakers ‘can’t have a business’ without infrastructure: Beam Global CEO

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Beam Global President and CEO Desmond Wheatley joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the future of electric vehicle charging technology and the outlook for EV charging in Biden's infrastructure deal.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. In today's "The Future of Electric Vehicles" segment here, sponsored by BMW, we're looking into a couple of different issues when it comes to EVs that might be overlooked. Of course, you can plug them into the wall, but where is that energy coming from? In some cases, it might be from a traditional power source that you still need to worry about when it comes to emissions and carbon, but also the question of the energy grid and what it can handle here.

That's why companies, like our next guest here, Beam Global, is focusing in on the way that they are able to harness solar power to charge these EVs through stations that they built out. I'm very happy to welcome in with us today Desmond Wheatley, Beam Global President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, joining us as part of our series looking at the future of electric vehicles, sponsored by BMW.

And Desmond, when we look at it, I think it's pretty interesting, the technology that you guys have. Because you've got the solar panel on top. It charges the EV vehicle there. I mean, talk to me about the growth that you've seen in building out around sustainable energy to power these cars.

DESMOND WHEATLEY: Yeah, so first of all, thank you very much for having me. It's great to be here. Yes, so we're generating and storing all of the electricity that we provide to electric vehicles and also to emergency power panels at site without any connection to the grid.

What this is allowing us to do is to have a very rapidly deployed and highly scalable solution, which allows you to have the EV charger of your choice and the service provider of your choice-- we're agnostic as to those two things-- but without any construction, without any electrical work, without any engineering, without any planning. And what this allows us to do is to deploy rapidly and at scale into this massively growing marketplace without any of the costs or the disruptions or risks associated with construction and electrical work. Very timely.

AKIKO FUJITA: Desmond, EV charging stations, of course, was the central focus of President Biden's initial infrastructure proposal. It's been scaled back significantly in this bipartisan deal, about $7 and 1/2 billion set aside for EV infrastructure as a whole, the charging stations a small part of that. How much of that do you think you can actually tap into? And what does that ultimately mean for Beam?

DESMOND WHEATLEY: It's very good news for us. We have a GSA contract in place, which allows federal entities, and, actually, state entities because we're a disaster preparedness asset as well, to buy our product without going through any type of competitive process.

So obviously, the increase in spending from the federal government is very important to us. And we do believe that the infrastructure spending will take place. There will be a great deal of emphasis on transportation and the electrification of transportation with-- especially with American made products like ours, which are shovel ready. Indeed, there is no shovel. We deploy without any construction at all.

But at the end of the day, I'm going to tell you. This will end up being a consumer-driven process. The addition of fantastic new products like the all-electric F-150, General Motor's Hummer product, and all the other fantastic electric vehicles that are coming out now. Consumers are going to demand these products. And EV charging infrastructure will be existential to the growth of this space, which is certainly going to happen.

So with or without federal spending, it's a great time to be doing what we're doing. But we do believe there'll be a great deal of federal spending. And then that will trickle down to the states and municipalities as well.

AKIKO FUJITA: Desmond, quickly, though, on that, you've got these grand ambitions from companies like GM that you just alluded to. How much of this adoption is really about working in concert with each other? GM can sell all the cars in the world, but if they don't have the infrastructure in specific markets, consumers are not going to want to adapt. Can you talk about how closely intertwined they are and the partnerships that you have in place to try and scale out?

DESMOND WHEATLEY: Oh, Akiko, you're absolutely right. We are definitely looking at a future of electrification. Most European nations have already announced plans of the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles starting at 2025 in Norway and finishing up by 2040. Automotive manufacturers can't build one set of cars for Europe and another set for the United States. So there is no question that we're going to electrify.

And when you understand that, you also understand the point that you just made, which is that EV charging infrastructure becomes existentially important to the automotive manufacturers. In other words, they cannot have a business if the fueling infrastructure is not in place. So there's going to-- there will be a great deal of requirement for people to work together. A great deal of money is going to have to be spent. Goldman Sachs has called this a $6 trillion infrastructure buildout.

And we're positioned. We're already selling to most of these entities. And because of our agnosticity where the EV charger and the service provider is concerned, you could say that our TAM equals all the EV charging companies' TAMs put together. Not to say that there won't be grid sites. Off the grid will play a great role, a huge role in it. But we believe, and so do many in government know, that at least 25% of all EV charging infrastructure should be locally stored and locally generated so that we don't lose it during blackouts and brownouts.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and Desmond, I mean, lastly, we were just looking at a chart there. The stock down by about 30% year to date, still up, what, about 350% over the last year. So I mean, we've seen that kind of the whole sector maybe coming back a little bit, giving back some of those gains.

But I mean, what's kind of the growth that you look at to maybe point to the longer term mission here for Beam, as we talk about total addressable market, obviously, growing with each electric car that comes onto the market? But I mean, in terms of your buildout, how many of these things that you're selling, companies you're working with to get these out on the streets, I mean, what does growth look like now?

DESMOND WHEATLEY: So we're looking at a historical high pipeline right now. In May of this year, we already had more contracted backlog and year to date revenue than our entire 2020 number. And we're in a facility that we can scale up to 2,200 units a year, $140 million in revenue. But I'll tell you this-- we're going to have to open 10 more of these. And even then, we won't be able to scratch the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg of demand.

Picture a world without gas stations. And all of a sudden, you've got to build all the gas stations in the world in the next two decades. That's where we are with the electrification of transportation. That's why it's so important to have a rapidly deployed, highly scalable solution that doesn't have to go through lengthy environmental impact studies, permitting, construction, electrical work, or any of these other things.

We're blitzkrieg, not siege. We get it done faster than anybody else does and more scalably than anybody else does and with the most robust source of electricity. Because we're going to generate a new source every single day. And we're not affected by centralized vulnerabilities, like those which we experience with the grid.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, exciting to watch the buildout and all of this happen right before our eyes here, quicker than maybe some people expected. But Desmond Wheatley--


ZACK GUZMAN: --Beam Global President and CEO and Chairman of the Board, appreciate you coming on here to chat with us today.