Pitch Deck Teardown: Orange’s $2.5M seed deck

Earlier this week, I wrote a story about EV charging company Orange and how it is taking a different approach to putting chargers everywhere. Instead of a few high-speed chargers, it makes it easy for multifamily dwellings (think apartment buildings) to put charger sockets everywhere there might be EVs, taking care of billing and such to turn electric sockets into a revenue stream for building owners while making it easy for EV owners to charge their cars.

It’s a clever model, replicating the benefits of charging at home using simple charger infrastructure. I asked the founders if they might be interested in sharing their pitch deck. To my delight, they said yes!

We’re looking for more unique pitch decks to tear down, so if you want to submit your own, here’s how you can do that

Slides in this deck

  1. Cover slide
  2. Mission slide
  3. Problem slide
  4. Macroeconomic market slide (“Why now?”)
  5. Market size slide
  6. Solution slide
  7. Value proposition slide
  8. Product tech spec slide
  9. Product slide
  10.  Competitive landscape slide
  11.  Competitive advantage slide
  12.  Business model slide
  13.  Cash flow slide
  14.  Go-to-market slide
  15.  Team slide
  16.  Advisers slide
  17.  “The ask” slide
  18.  Contact slide
  19.  Appendices cover slide
  20.  Appendix I: Product install photos
  21.  Appendix II: 3-year financial projections
  22.  Appendix III: Headcount slide
  23.  Appendix IV: Sources and references

Three things to love

Orange Charging’s pitch deck is one of the best decks I’ve seen in a very long time — it looks good, it tells a coherent story and it touches on all the parts that investors want to see in a deck. It even includes great examples of slides that many startup founders get wrong. In fact, when I first scrolled through the deck, I found myself wondering if I would be using this as a teardown at all — what’s the use in criticizing something that’s almost perfect?

Let’s start by taking a peek at some of the highlights.

Amazing summary slide

[Slide 2] Setting the tone. Image Credits: Orange

When I first scrolled through the deck, I found myself wondering if I would be using this as a teardown at all — what’s the use in criticizing something that’s almost perfect?

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Orange’s second slide does a hell of a job of that in several dimensions. Visually, this is a stunning slide; the bright orange stripe that runs along the walls of the garage (it looks like it may be a Photoshop job rather than a paint or vinyl job, but that doesn’t matter for the purpose of a slide deck); the three cars and the bright orange charger boxes are all great visuals.

Then, the text. It encapsulates the problem the company is solving in a really simple and easy-to-understand way.

For a perfect score here, I would have made this slide about the company. Make the text orange and change it to something like “We simplify installing, scaling and managing ⚡ electric vehicle charging in multiunit properties.” That way, it isn’t about the problem — it’s about the company and the solution. A small box showing the company’s progress and the purpose of this fundraise (“500 chargers installed in 75 locations, raising $2.5 million to 10x our install base”) would be even better.

Great overview of value propositions

[Slide 9] A great overview of Orange Charger’s win-win setup. Image Credits: Orange

In a world where people are very used to Tesla’s Supercharger network on one hand and the general idea of gas stations (where you fill whenever you get close to empty) on the other, Orange’s take is different from both.

Instead of rapid-charging from time to time or filling up only when you are empty, the company offers a solution that people who charge at home are used to: Whenever you get home, plug your car in, and you’re good to go whenever you get back to your car. Turning this charging paradigm into a company is essentially the core of what Orange is doing.

This slide helps explain why having a 110V or 240V socket installed, charging at 16 amps, is actually plenty for the vast majority of EV drivers. It also argues that lower installation costs (and the absence of a charging cable that can break) and ease of operation make its solution a great alternative to competitors.

Which is a fantastic setup for the two competition slides that follow.

Spectacular market slide

[Slide 5] Of course electric charging is going to be huge. Image Credits: Orange

It’s a rare opportunity to be in a world where you are 100% certain that a huge shift in an important market is coming. That is true for electric vehicles and all the infrastructure that comes with them. No investor worth their salt is going to argue with a company that says EV charging is a huge, worth-solving problem. Seeing it presented with this level of clarity on a slide, though, is reassuring and exciting to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the rapid proliferation of EVs.

On another slide, Orange makes the argument that EVs will cost the same as gasoline-powered cars by 2025 — I’m a little skeptical, but the date is less important than the fact that this is going to happen at some point. Add in government incentives (either punitively in the form of higher gasoline taxes or a more carrot-like approach with new incentives for electric vehicles), and you’ve got a really interesting market indeed.

In the rest of this teardown, we’ll take a look at three things Orange could have improved or done differently, along with its full pitch deck!

Pitch Deck Teardown: Orange’s $2.5M seed deck by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Smart electric panel company Span gets a $90M jolt of cash

The lowly breaker panel has been around for a century without getting much love, and along comes Span. The company is making a compelling bid for better, smarter electrical panels, and just got a $90 million top-up to continue its evolution. The company is solving the challenges of electrification and micro-grid balancing, ensuring that the smart homes of the future have better visibility in the how, what and why of power consumption.

Span raised $10 million a couple of years ago, integrated with Alexa and launched a smarter EV charger earlier this year to go with the smart panels.

“I was very fortunate to join Tesla in the very early days of defining what Tesla Energy subsequently became. So I was one of the early leaders in the Energy Group. People are probably most familiar with the Powerwall battery, but I was the leader of the product team there that designed, developed and deployed residential products, commercial industry products, as well as utility-scale products both on the hardware and software side. During my time, they were also responsible for products like the solar roof and deployment of solar, the glass roof part, if you will,” Arch Rao, CEO and founder of SPAN told me in an interview earlier this year. “One of the things that I got to see firsthand while deploying home batteries and solar systems and electric vehicle charging systems around the world, is that there is a fundamental problem tied to infrastructure. It is going to be a deterrent to the adoption of distributed clean energy, especially if you believe that electrification is a meaningful part of the Fossil Free journey that we want to be on. If we want to supplant [fossil-fuel focused appliances] with superior electric appliances, it’s going to require a massive upgrade to the infrastructure starting with the home electrical panel.”

“We started with reinventing the electrical panel, as it is the core component to any scalable path to electrification of homes, but the consumer experience demands more,” says Rao. “We’re excited to deploy this new capital to expand our product offerings that simplify the decarbonization of homes, and to continue developing the unparalleled approach to home energy management that Span is uniquely positioned to deliver.”

Span’s Series B funding round was led by Fifth Wall Climate Tech and Wellington Management. Other investors include Angeleno Group, FootPrint Coalition, Obsidian Investment Partners and A/O PropTech. The company explains it will use the new funding to continue developing the Span Home suite of energy products and solutions to drive commercial growth and accelerate the electrification of homes.

EV charging companies push faster at-home charges, V2G and connectivity at CES

EV charging companies have been showing their wares at CES for years now. But this year, the stakes — and opportunities — are a bit higher.

With dozens of electric passenger cars and commercial fleets expected to hit the market in just a few years, EVs are pushing into the mainstream. That larger market comes with a price: Mainstream consumers expect charge times that are akin to gas refueling times, are accustomed to good user experience design and probably haven’t ever had to think about peak and off-peak energy grid hours.

Charging companies and smaller startups that showed up at CES this year seemed cognizant of that shift and pitched products that were faster, more connected, easier to use, easy to install and built to work with the electrical grid. The takeaway: EV charging companies, keen to reach this bigger customer base, revealed products designed to hit just about every use case, from commercial fleet charging to at-home charging, from vehicle-to-grid tech to monetizing advertising space on chargers.

With the global EV charger market expected to grow from $3.23 billion in 2020 to nearly $11 billion in 2025, the industry still has space for new entrants before it consolidates around a few giants, many of whom did not grace CES with demos or news. The smaller companies that showed off tech at CES are standing out with unique solutions, lots of connectivity and upgraded charge speeds.

Blink Charging

Blink came to play, with four new charging products this year, including one DC-fast wall-mounted charger and three Level 2 chargers — one designed for fleet and multiunit applications, another for home applications and the last for integrating advertising displays. All of the chargers come with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as smart capabilities that allow for things like fleet management integration, load sharing technology and energy use management. 

Blink MQ 200 for fleet EV charging stations

Specifically designed for fleets, workplace and multifamily locations, this 50 amp charger comes with Plug & Charge functionality, which can automatically identify vehicles through the unique and encryption flow of information from the vehicle to the charging station. As its name suggests, this means drivers will simply have to plug in to begin a charging session.

The MQ 200, which will be available by the end of Q1 this year, comes with Smart Grid functionality for direct utility communications and local load management across two or more chargers, which allows for the installation of two to 20 chargers on a single circuit, ideal for overnight fleet charging. It also communicates with the Blink Network, software that connects Blink chargers to the cloud, as well as the Blink Fleet Management Portal, which was also launched at CES. The portal gives fleet managers a dashboard to track charging and load management, chargers, vehicles and drivers.

Blink HQ 200, next-gen home charging

The HQ 200 is Blink’s updated residential charger, a Level 2 charger with 50 amps, up from last generation’s 30 amps. The extra power at home, as we’ll see with other EV charging companies, is a trend this year as companies race to find ways to decrease charge time.

While customers can choose to go for a basic charger with no bells and whistles, the smart, Wi-Fi-enabled version is really the one that intrigues us. The HQ 200 is one of Blink’s first chargers to come with vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G), which allows EVs to charge during off-peak hours and give back to the grid from energy stored in the EV battery during peak hours when there’s high demand.

The HQ 200 also connects to the Blink Mobile App to instantly start a charge, schedule charging times and set reminders. It will be available by the end of Q1 this year.

DC Fast wall-mounted for two cars at once

The DC Fast Wall 50 kW can be wall-mounted or set up on a pedestal, and it can charge two cars at once, which makes it ideal for fleet, retail and streetside charging and high-traffic locations. It has up to 150 amps of output and V2G tech, a 10-inch touchscreen display and the ability to bill for charges based on time, kWh or per session. It also allows for remote management and energy usage reports via the Blink Network, and an RFID reader allows for users with a member card, RFID credit card or mobile app to start a charge.

“The price point will also make it attractive for locations that otherwise may not feel they can afford DC fast,” a Blink spokesperson told TechCrunch. “The DC Wall 50 kW costs less than $20,000, while existing equipment today typically starts at $35,000.”

Vision IQ 200 for advertising

This Level 2 charger comes with one or two 30-inch LCD screens for dynamic digital media displays, allowing for full-service advertising capabilities — ideal for retail, hospitality, municipal and high-traffic locations. Property hosts will be offered revenue share opportunities for both charging and advertising income, the latter of which will be managed through a third-party vendor. 

The Vision IQ 200 is equipped with one or two 80-amp IQ 200 chargers, and it features easy payment via RFID, Apple Pay, Google Wallet and all major credit cards, as well as other smart functionalities like remote management and real-time energy usage reports. 

The DC Fast Wall will be available later this year, said Blink.


E-Lift came to CES to introduce its new customizable GS Pop-Up charging station, which the Dutch company hopes to launch in North America soon. The little station comes with up to four plugs for simultaneous charging, and it can be equipped with sensors that link to E-Lift’s Sustainable and Smart Energy Management System (SENSE).

The SENSE platform is a management system for users’ mobility and energy needs. Customers can log in remotely to monitor and manage their mobility and energy-consumption data, “resulting in a cost-effective energy transformation that is beneficial for governments and companies looking to reshape their future with the use of renewable energy resources,” the company said in a statement.


JuiceBar, a Connecticut-based EV charging company that’s really playing the Made in America card, unveiled its first residential charger at CES — the Cheetah, aptly named for being quick, so the company says. 

The company, which says it will credit $1,000 for every old charger that is exchanged for one of its new chargers, will be selling its Cheetahs sometime in 2022. JuiceBar has hundreds of commercial chargers, both public and private, across the U.S. and Canada, the same markets that will see the new at-home charger. 

The Cheetah will be available in 16, 32, 40 and 48-amp configurations and 120, 208 and 240 input voltages, which after seeing what Blink is putting out, doesn’t make JuiceBar the fastest Level 2 on the market, but it’s close. The Cheetah also has Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and cloud connectivity, which helps for Smart Grid charging. It has a 25-foot cord with an optional tangle-free cord retractor.

For peace of mind when charging at home, the Cheetah also is built with dual safety relays, which allows the second relay to open and break the circuit in the event that the first closes and fuses shut. The charger’s power is backed by 100% certified carbon reduction projects that offset the carbon footprint of the charger, according to JuiceBar. The company is buying carbon offsets for the first year. After that, buyers can continue to purchase carbon offsets on a subscription basis of less than $1 per week.

The Cheetah will be available for consumers in late Q2 or early Q3, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. They’ll initially be sold through third parties such as auto dealers, house builders and utility companies in the U.S. and Canada. 


Wallbox introduced its Quasar 2 at CES this year, the latest generation of its bidirectional home charger. This one not only allows EV owners to charge and discharge their EV to power their home or the grid, but it also allows owners to isolate their home from the grid and use their EV for backup power during a blackout, even if it’s caused by a natural disaster. Wallbox says its Quasar 2 can power a home for more than three days during a blackout.

The vehicle-to-home (V2H) functionality should help EV owners save money on home energy costs, says the company, particularly in states where power rates are related to demand. Users can schedule charging sessions to happen when rates are low, and those who have solar power installations can store excess energy in their EV during low usage periods.

The Quasar 2 provides 48 amps of power, comes with CCS compatibility for rapid-charging vehicles like the Jaguar I-Pace or BMW i3 and connects to the myWallbox app through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet or 4G.

Wallbox didn’t share how much the Quasar 2 would cost, but said it would be comparable to Quasar 1, which costs about $4,000. It plans to launch by the end of the year.


Electric cars aren’t the only vehicles hitting the market. Micromobility vehicles need some love, too. That’s why Meredot unveiled its first commercial Wireless Charger designed for e-scooters, e-mopeds and other vehicles like food delivery robots and wheelchairs. The charger takes the shape of a physical pad that can either be placed above or below ground, and it charges vehicles that have been equipped with a receiver when they are parked on top of it.

Meredot is targeting micromobility OEMs and fleet operators for its Wireless Charger. It’s ready to go to market and license its tech to companies that want to offer a novel and potentially hassle-free way of giving vehicles a charge. For micromobility fleets in particular, charging scooters and bikes, even when they have swappable batteries, is one of the major cost-suckers, so this kind of tech could potentially be a game changer.

“The Meredot Wireless Charger delivers a new, distributed architecture that helps achieve greater site capital efficiency and scalability, saving energy and costs,” said Roman Bysko, CEO and co-founder of Meredot, in a statement. “The Meredot Wireless Charger can become an infrastructural foundation to a new micromobility charging experience benefitting both operators and riders.”

The company claims its tech can charge 50% more e-scooters on the same surface compared to traditional cable charging systems, which can lead to serious savings for charging sites. 

Read more about CES 2022 on TechCrunch

Ample’s John de Souza on the merits of B2B, company culture and investors who get it

The odds are against San Francisco-based electric vehicle battery swapping company Ample. Other companies have tried to build a business on exchanging dead batteries for fresh ones to solve the problem of long EV charge times: Fourteen years ago, Better Place raised nearly a billion dollars to do what Ample’s doing, and it ended up declaring bankruptcy.

But that was more than a decade ago, when EVs weren’t sufficiently advanced —or plentiful — to make the business model work.

That didn’t deter Ample co-founder John de Souza. Born and raised in Ethiopia to a Greek/Ethiopian mother and a Portuguese/Indian father who found ways to send him and his siblings to school despite their poverty, his family relocated to Dubai when the Ethiopian Civil War started in the 1970s. After emigrating, de Souza finished out high school before heading to the United States at 16 to attend university under a full scholarship.

Since then, he has founded multiple companies, including fintech company Smartleaf, internet startup Flash Communications and consumer health platform MedHelp, where his current co-founder, Khaled Hassounah, served as CTO. Both de Souza and Hassounah come from immigrant backgrounds, which de Souza said affords them with that creative entrepreneurial mentality.

Neither co-founder had previous experience in the energy sector, but by 2018, both co-founders saw an opportunity in the EV market. The only problem was that it would be difficult to get people to convert to EVs when the technology, at least from a refueling UX perspective, was much worse than the status quo.

Many investors didn’t last five minutes into an Ample pitch because they could still see the smoldering ruins of Better Place, but de Souza and Hassounah raised upwards of $275 million to solve for the limitations of plug-in charging.

Today, Ample has partnered with Sally, an EV rental company that offers ride-hailing, taxi and last-mile deliveries, along with Uber and Eneos, a Japanese petroleum and energy company. The company’s path to market relies on contracts with fleets wherein Ample’s battery chemistry-agnostic modular battery packs can be swapped into and out of any vehicle. Ample already has deployed seven swapping stations in the Bay Area for participating Uber drivers and plans to launch in Europe, starting with Madrid next year. Depending on COVID-19 border restrictions, Ample is also targeting late next year to start building stations in Japan.

We sat down with de Souza to discuss the merits of a B2B go-to-market strategy, how to create a fun and functional company culture, and what it takes to go after an idea most people say won’t work.

The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders who are building transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.

You have a track record of founding quite a few companies that span communications, fintech, health tech and now EV battery swapping. A couple of your companies did end up being acquired, so are you planning on sticking it out with Ample? Or are you already thinking about your next startup?

Well, it’s not just me, because I have my co-founder and you need to be in sync about what you’re doing. So firstly, I would recommend to any founder, it’s so much better doing it with somebody else than doing it on your own. And it’s easy to be friends with somebody you’ve worked with, but working with a friend is much harder because you may not be friends for long. But I think as we went into this, we’re not thinking about the exit. You go into it assuming it’s going to be a long journey, then it will be a fun journey. 

To create something takes time. You need to go through the process, and as long as you’re creating value, you actually want to see the realization. I feel when you jump into it just to quickly create and sell, it’s not as much fun and it shows in the company culture. People spend so much time at the company that they need to enjoy being there, so if you’re a company where people love Fridays and hate Mondays, then you’re at the wrong company; it’s time to move on.

You don’t seem to have any competition in the EV swapping space. Maybe it’s not such a great idea if no one else is trying to solve the problem in the same way.

My co-founder and I connected on this idea of doing things that are very improbable, but possible. You just need to find a potential path. If everybody says, ‘Oh yeah, this is gonna happen,’ it’s too late for us. We know it’s the right time and it’s possible there’s a path, but most people are saying this will never work. That doesn’t discourage us, because it’s clearly in that sector of low probability, and that’s a sector we’re most comfortable in.

Better Place tried and failed. Why do you think your company will be successful?

We did a lot of research on electric cars before starting this and found electric cars go back a century. One of the reasons people went over from electric to gas was everybody was building specific batteries for each type of car, but gas was possible to use in any car, and that became very convenient. So now with EVs, we’re asking people to go from something very convenient to something that’s exceedingly inconvenient.

Tesla is opening its Supercharger network to other EVs for the first time

Tesla is rolling out a pilot program in the Netherlands that opens 10 Supercharger locations to non-Tesla electric vehicles for the first time.

Non-Tesla drivers that want to use a Supercharger location will first need to download the Tesla app and create an account with the company. From there, they can select “Charge Your Non-Tesla,” search for a location, add a payment method and start charging, according to information on Tesla’s Netherlands website.

Drivers operating non-Tesla EVs will not have a totally seamless charging experience; while Tesla users can simply plug in and out, these drivers will have to indicate on the app when to start and stop the charging session. And while the price of electricity will stay the same for Tesla owners, non-Teslas will incur additional costs, including those “associated with charging a large number of different cars and made to make the locations suitable for cars from other brands,” the company said.

Only EVs with a CCS standard connection will be eligible to participate in the pilot. Here in the U.S., Tesla Superchargers use a proprietary connector, but CEO Elon Musk indicated in a second-quarter earnings call in July that an adapter could be sold or offered at the company’s North America charging locations, should the network open in the U.S. He also suggested that the company could implement dynamic pricing during busy periods.

The pilot will let Tesla “gain experience, monitor flow at the loaders and collect user feedback,” the company said on its website. Tesla is encouraging its drivers to continue using the 10 locations as normal, likely to ensure that it is getting good data on how its flagship users are affected. In the case of non-Teslas charging slower than Tesla vehicles, the pilot will also likely measure the impact of slower charging times on other users.

Musk has long indicated that such a program, which the company is calling the “Non-Tesla’s Supercharger Pilot,” might eventually be introduced. He confirmed in July that the network would open to non-Teslas by the end of this year, and this pilot appears to be just the beginning; the company said on its website that it will be adding additional countries to the program “in the near future.”

Tesla’s Supercharger network includes over 25,000 fast chargers, by far the largest network owned and operated by an automaker in the world.

“Our ambition has always been to open the Supercharger network to Non-Tesla electric cars in order to encourage more drivers to make the switch to electric driving,” Tesla said.

During the earnings call in July, Andrew Baglino, Tesla’s senior VP of powertrain and energy engineering, made the case that opening the Supercharger network to non-Teslas could result in lower electricity costs overall.

“Increasing the utilization of the network actually reduces our costs, which allows us to lower charging prices for our customers and make the network more profitable, allows us to grow the network faster,” he said. “And no matter what, we’re going to continue to aggressively expand the network capacity, increasing charging speeds, improving the trip planning tools to protect against site congestion using dynamic pricing, as Elon mentioned.”

GM is upping its investment in charging infrastructure to increase confidence in EVs

General Motors will be upping its investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure by nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars, in a bid to lure drivers who may otherwise be leery of charging availability to EVs.

The automaker said it would spend nearly $750,000,000 through 2025 in order to create more access to public, home and work chargers. The investment also has significant implications for GM’s Ultium Charge 360 project.

This isn’t the first time GM has invested in charging. The automaker last year announced a partnership with EVgo, a popular charging network company, for the installation of more than 2,700 DC fast chargers over five years.

Charging availability is consistently cited in surveys as one of the primary reasons why people are hesitant to transition to an electric vehicle. A recent survey from Consumer Reports found that around half of the respondents said “not enough public charging stations” was holding them back from purchasing an EV.

What’s unclear is whether this will go toward a proprietary charging network — like Tesla’s Supercharging network, which boasts over 25,000 chargers in nearly 3,000 stations around the world — or whether this money will go toward another partnership. There was a lot of talk throughout the investor day of GM becoming a “vertically integrated” OEM with revenues from subscriptions and services — and GM also teased that this investment would help support a new initiative it’s calling “Ultium Charge 360,” which sounds to us a lot like a subscription. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Other GM Investor Day news:

Security flaws found in popular EV chargers

U.K. cybersecurity company Pen Test Partners has identified several vulnerabilities in the APIs of six home electric vehicle charging brands and a large public EV charging network. While the charger manufacturers resolved most of the issues, the findings are the latest example of the poorly regulated world of Internet of Things devices, which are poised to become all but ubiquitous in our homes and vehicles.

Vulnerabilities were identified in the API of six different EV charging brands — Project EV, Wallbox, EVBox, EO Charging’s EO Hub and EO mini pro 2, Rolec and Hypervolt — and public charging network Chargepoint. Security researcher Vangelis Stykas identified several security flaws among the various brands that could have allowed a malicious hacker to hijack user accounts, impede charging and even turn one of the chargers into a “backdoor” into the owner’s home network.

The consequences of a hack to a public charging station network could include theft of electricity at the expense of driver accounts and turning chargers on or off.

A Raspberry Pi in a Wallbox charger. Image Credits: Pen Test Partners (opens in a new window

Some EV chargers used a Raspberry Pi compute module, a low-cost computer that’s often used by hobbyists and programmers.

“The Pi is a great hobbyist and educational computing platform, but in our opinion it’s not suitable for commercial applications as it doesn’t have what’s known as a ‘secure bootloader,’” Pen Test Partners founder Ken Munro told TechCrunch. “This means anyone with physical access to the outside of your home (hence to your charger) could open it up and steal your Wi-Fi credentials. Yes, the risk is low, but I don’t think charger vendors should be exposing us to additional risk.”

The hacks are “really fairly simple,” Munro said. “I can teach you to do this in five minutes,” he added.

The company’s report, published this past weekend, touched on vulnerabilities associated with emerging protocols like the Open Charge Point Interface, maintained and managed by the EVRoaming Foundation. The protocol was designed to make charging seamless between different charging networks and operators.

Munro likened it to roaming on a cell phone, allowing drivers to use networks outside of their usual charging network. OCPI isn’t widely used at the moment, so these vulnerabilities could be designed out of the protocol. But if left unaddressed, it could mean “that a vulnerability in one platform potentially creates a vulnerability in another,” Stykas explained.

Hacks to charging stations have become a particularly nefarious threat as a greater share of transportation becomes electrified and more power flows through the electric grid. Electric grids are not designed for large swings in power consumption — but that’s exactly what could happen, should there be a large hack that turned on or off a sufficient number of DC fast chargers.

“It doesn’t take that much to trip the power grid to overload,” Munro said. “We’ve inadvertently made a cyberweapon that others could use against us.”

The “Wild West” of cybersecurity

While the effects on the electric grid are unique to EV chargers, cybersecurity issues aren’t. The routine hacks reveal more endemic issues in IoT devices, where being first to market often takes precedence over sound security — and where regulators are barely able to catch up to the pace of innovation.

“There’s really not a lot of enforcement,” Justin Brookman, the director of consumer privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports, told TechCrunch in a recent interview. Data security enforcement in the United States falls within the purview of the Federal Trade Commission. But while there is a general-purpose consumer protection statute on the books, “it may well be illegal to build a system that has poor security, it’s just whether you’re going to get enforced against or not,” said Brookman.

A separate federal bill, the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act, passed last September but only broadly applies to the federal government.

There’s only slightly more movement on the state level. In 2018, California passed a bill banning default passwords in new consumer electronics starting in 2020 — useful progress to be sure, but which largely puts the burden of data security in the hands of consumers. California, as well as states like Colorado and Virginia, also have passed laws requiring reasonable security measures for IoT devices.

Such laws are a good start. But (for better or worse) the FTC isn’t like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which audits consumer products before they hit the market. As of now, there’s no security check on technology devices prior to them reaching consumers. Over in the United Kingdom, “it’s the Wild West over here as well, right now,” Munro said.

Some startups have emerged that are trying to tackle this issue. One is Thistle Technologies, which is trying to help IoT device manufacturers integrate mechanisms into their software to receive security updates. But it’s unlikely this problem will be fully solved on the back of private industry alone.

Because EV chargers could pose a unique threat to the electric grid, there’s a possibility that EV chargers could fall under the scope of a critical infrastructure bill. Last week, President Joe Biden released a memorandum calling for greater cybersecurity for systems related to critical infrastructure. “The degradation, destruction or malfunction of systems that control this infrastructure could cause significant harm to the national and economic security of the United States,” Biden said. Whether this will trickle down to consumer products is another question.