Shares of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report have been on fire, easily outperforming the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both this month and since the start of the correction in early October. Although, that's not to say the stock hasn't been volatile.
Some of that volatility came at the hands of CEO Elon Musk. After tweeting his desire to take the company private at $420 per share, the SEC didn't find too much entertainment in his method of communication. Ultimately, Musk had to resign from his role as chairman, while he and the company had to make a number of other smaller sacrifices. But that hasn't stopped him from tweeting. Only now, it's not about taking the company private.
Instead, earlier this month Musk said the company plans to double its Supercharger Network capacity in an effort to cover "95% to 100% of the population in active markets." In a follow-up tweet, Musk said Supercharger V3, a fast-charging station capable of increased charging speeds, will rollout "early next year."
While Tesla easily has the most comprehensive charging network for electric vehicles, the quick expansion of Model 3 production over the last four months or so has led to a significant increase in the number of Teslas on the road. As a result, customer demand is increasing for more charging capacity, faster speeds and more locations.
Although this presents Tesla with numerous challenges, from planning to financing, it also represents a significant opportunity. One of the more challenging aspects for electric cars coming to market is the current infrastructure. And while automakers will surely push for electric vehicle support from the government's eventual infrastructure plan, options are quite thin at the moment.
That brings up the question of where customers will be able to charge their cars away from their home. Particularly as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, BMW, General Motors (GM) - Get Report and others bring electric vehicles to the market. Tesla has expressed an openness to working with other automakers on using its charging infrastructure, although it's not clear whether that will ever be the case. Some, like Porsche for instance, plan to add several hundred locations in the U.S., but it's a big investment of time and money to do so. It's also ineffective for each automaker to have their own station.
Another option? ChargePoint.
The company just raised another $240 million from its investors in a Series H round, and has already raised more than $530 million in total, according to Crunchbase. It counts its investors as BMW i Ventures (BMWYY) , Daimler Trucks and Busses (DDAIF) , American Electric Power (AEP) - Get Report and Chevron Technology Ventures (CVX) - Get Report , among others. BMW and Daimler, along with Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Ford Motor (F) - Get Report are also partnered with Ionity, a European-based electric car charging company.
ChargePoint has deployed more than 57,000 private and public chargers around the world, making it one of the largest solution providers for electric vehicle charging. Its board is no joke either, featuring names like Rick Wagoner, the former chairman and CEO of General Motors, and Bruce Chizen, the former CEO of Adobe Systems (ADBE) - Get Report . The company's goal is to get more than 2.5 million charging points around the world by 2025.
Does it have a larger network than Tesla? It sure does. It begs the question, though: How important are the charging stations? On a conference call earlier this year when Musk expressed his openness for sharing its Supercharging Network, he explained that the rate of innovation is the true moat for electric vehicles, not the charging infrastructure.
That's not a shot against ChargePoint so much as the viewpoint from an automaker's position. For ChargePoint, there are clear benefits to becoming the main player in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. We'll see how the story plays out over time, but one thing is certain: If Elon Musk's goal was to bring electric cars to the masses, the market is moving in his desired direction.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.