ECOtality’s executives better start practicing their Mandarin — China is fast becoming a major focus for the company. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based charging infrastructure company, which says it was mentioned in Obama’s State of the Union address, announced Monday that its Chinese partner, Shenzhen Goch Investment, has just landed a $1.5 billion credit line, and that Shenzen Goch has committed $300 million of that credit line to finance sales of ECOtality’s electric vehicle (EV) charging systems to utilities, governments, and commercial and retail clients around the world.
The credit line, offered by the China Construction Bank, will allow ECOtality to finance vehicle charging projects for its customers and reduce the upfront capital they otherwise would have needed to invest to get the projects moving. That, in turn, “will accelerate EV adoption worldwide,” CEO Jonathan Read said in a statement. Read said the deal would provide ECOtality with the capital needed “to become the dominant player in the EV marketplace with no current dilution to our shareholders.”
The focus on China isn’t new for ECOtality, whose subsidiary eTec snagged a nearly $100 million federal stimulus grant last year to support the construction of more than 12,000 charging systems in five U.S. states. The company announced last September that it had formed two joint ventures with Shenzhen Goch to manufacture, assemble and sell EV charging equipment in the country. ECOtality said then that Shenzhen Goch would contribute $15 million for the joint ventures in exchange for exclusive sales and distribution rights for ECOtality’s charging systems in China.
ECOtality, at the time of the announcement with Shenzen Goch last year, seemed to emphasize that a major benefit of the partnership would be to sell its charging systems in China, which is expected to account for nearly half of worldwide installations by 2015, according to at least one research report. Today’s announcement makes it clear that ECOtality’s partnership with Shenzhen Goch is as much about selling into the Chinese market as it is about exporting products to markets worldwide, including to the U.S., which was specifically mentioned in the statement. As Josie Garthwaite has written before on Earth2Tech, there is growing chance that the charge point you pull up to in the U.S. in the future will have a “Made in China” sticker on the back.