Cathy Zoi, EVgo's CEO joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the company going public via SPAC.
AKIKO FUJITA: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Today, we're talking about betting big on the EV space. Electric charging station provider EVgo coming to market today through a $2.6 billion SPAC merger. SPAC, of course, the acronym for Special Purpose Acquisition Company. Let's bring in Cathy Zoi. She's the CEO of EVgo.
And Cathy, first of all, congratulations on the listing today. You certainly picked a good time to come to the market. It feels like over the last few weeks already, we have seen a significant shift in the conversation around climate policy with somebody like a Joe Biden, saying he wants to boost EV vehicles or electric vehicles. 500,000 charging stations, what he's talking about. How significant a bump are you likely to get on the back of that?
CATHY ZOI: Well, look, the macro trend is huge anyway. So $300 billion has been committed to by the global OEMs. So electrification is happening. It's a very rare car company that's not investing in electrification right now. But on top of that, I think what the Biden administration is committed to doing is accelerating that transition because it's both important for climate and addressing climate change, and it's important for creating jobs in the United States. So I think it's going to be-- we've already got tailwinds, and those tailwinds are going to pick up speed.
ZACK GUZMAN: And Cathy, you guys obviously specialize in fast charging networks. It's what you guys offer out here. And you have partnerships with some interesting companies, including Albertsons, Wawa, and Kroger. Talk to me about how this might be different in terms of thinking, at least, investors out there, how this isn't necessarily a one-to-one comparison to a gas station in terms of the time to charge. So how important are those partners in building out the network?
CATHY ZOI: Well, yeah. So what we like to do is think of-- charging takes one minute, and we put our charges where people want to be anyway. So you plug in, and then you go do your shopping. And you come back, and your battery's full. So that's why we like to partner with Kroger, Whole Foods, Wawa, Albertsons. And that means that you can go do your shopping and then come on out. You can go to the pharmacy and come on out. You can go get your nails done and come on out, and your car is charged.
Making charging as convenient as charging up your phone is one of the advantages of having an EV. And being able to do it fast, conveniently, reliably on the EVgo network is what we're all about.
AKIKO FUJITA: And Cathy, of course, so much of this is really contingent on the infrastructure. When you talk about the growth in the EV space, which is, of course, what you are investing in, we have seen huge growth in some of the coastal cities, if you're talking about a place like New York or a place like Washington state or California. What kind of conversations are you having in middle America, specifically, in terms of the willingness to invest in a big way in this technology?
CATHY ZOI: Well, look, we're in 34 states already. Over 40% of Americans live within 10 miles of an EVgo charging station today. We're in 67 metro markets. But interestingly, last July, EVgo announced a partnership with General Motors. Mary Barra and I had this sort of landmark agreement where EVgo was going to be building out our network in 40 metropolitan cities across the United States over the next few years with the financial support of General Motors. And why? Because GM is going to be selling EVs everywhere across the United States.
So while California was, of course, an early adopter, as it often is, this is happening absolutely everywhere. I mean, you will see electric vehicles everywhere in the coming years. Because there are going to be dozens of models available at a variety of price points for every kind of driver.
ZACK GUZMAN: Talk to me about how you're going to put this capital to work, too, right? Because net proceeds around just under $600 million. When you think about where you're going to put that to work, is it mostly in rural America that needs to play catch-up here in the EV space, or is it something else entirely?
CATHY ZOI: Well, we build where drivers are, and we like to build just ahead of demand. So, as I mentioned, with GM, we're building in 40 metropolitan cities across the United States. This will be absolutely everywhere. And we're looking forward to having it, over time, expand to every single area in the United States.
AKIKO FUJITA: How much of the growth, though, moving forward, is contingent on what happens in the battery space specifically? When you look at the raw materials, for example, a lot of that is still sourced out of China. And we have learned in the past that so much of that, in terms of the ability to tap into the resources, can run into roadblocks when we see some tensions between the two countries.
CATHY ZOI: Look, there is so much activity happening globally on investment in batteries. I mean, I spent a few years of my career teaching at Stanford and working sort of closely with some of the best researchers in the world. But they're not just at Stanford. They're all over the place. It seems like the technology is quickly evolving. The costs have come down in batteries. Oh my goodness-- probably 80% over the last eight years. That is going to continue to happen.
So, the car companies are investing in new battery technologies. We're investing in charging equipment that will charge all cars, regardless of what battery type there is. And I think you're just going to continue to see a global race to improve the durability, cost effectiveness of batteries. There is just no denying. I mean, we saw this with solar. We've seen this with wind. We've seen this with chips, for goodness' sake. And we're at that stage with electric vehicles that the technology is changing so, so rapidly, the performance is improving. And it's just going to continue to be that way.
ZACK GUZMAN: Obviously, the competition in the charging space heating up as well. You've got a few competitors to note here-- Blink Charging, ChargePoint, among others. When you think about guys specifically, how much does the fundraise here and going public through a SPAC maybe help inefficiencies, as you talk about building out in those metropolitan areas? How much cheaper does it get for you guys as a company to start building this out?
CATHY ZOI: Well, look, we're partnering-- right now, we partner with-- as I mentioned, we partner with OEMs who help support the buildout ahead of when they get the cars to market. We partner with government. So for example, we are building out the fast charging infrastructure in Virginia. And that government grant covers 75% of the cost of us to build ahead of when demand might otherwise be there.
We're going to continue to partner with utilities, with governments, and with other car companies to build ahead of demand. And that really, really does mean that we can create the comfort amongst drivers that if they decide to-- they might be interested in an EV. They will know that they can charge reliably, conveniently away from home, not just at home.
ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, that has been one of the issues, just among anecdotal conversations I have with my own friends, thinking about EVs. But Cathy Zoi, EVgo CEO, appreciate you coming on here to chat with us today.
CATHY ZOI: My pleasure.