As electrification advances deeper into fleets, three critical energy challenges are emerging for fleet managers: the scarcity of EV chargers, a strained power grid, and volatile electricity rates.
Stepping into this breach are three executives who bring deep knowledge from rental car operations, high finance, and solar power installations.
Bullet EV Charging Solutions officially launched July 31 to serve fleet, commercial, and residential customers. The trio behind the venture are Co-CEO Allen Rezapour, co-founder and former Co-CEO of Fox Rent-A-Car; Co-CEO Andres Pinter, a former senior member of Ares Management’s investment team; and COO Mark Vogel, an expert in renewable energy and former senior vice president for ADT’s solar division.
Three Heads Link Up for EV Adventure
Rezapour founded Fox with two partners in 1989 and created the biggest independent auto rental company in the U.S. The owners sold the company in 2019 to Europcar which saw it as an opportunity to enter the U.S. market.
Rezapour and co-founder Mike Jaberi stayed on for a few years running the company during the transition. Then COVID happened. Rezapour’s longtime business associate, financier Andres Pinter, helped arrange $300 million in financing to keep Europcar's newly acquired U.S. business afloat until VW showed interest in buying Europcar in 2021.VW and a consortium closed the deal in July 2022 to buy what is now Europcar Mobility Group. VW asked Rezapour to stay on for the rest of the year as part of the transition.
In January 2023, Pinter and Mark Vogel approached Rezapour with the idea of forming an electric vehicle company. “I told them, ‘Listen, I've already done my work. I'm done. I'm tired. I want to go ahead and relax and enjoy my time. And they said, ‘It’s about EVs and charging stations.’”
That sparked Rezapour’s curiosity, whose longtime career interests had been in electronics.
“I studied electronics in college and missed the tech boat,” said Rezapour, who had planned to retire. “I missed the cell phones and Internet. The next big thing is EVs. I didn’t want to miss that. There’s a gold rush in EVs right now, and it’s a good time to get into the business.”
The three businessmen formed an owning partnership with one-third stakes.
“Each of us has a different skill set and comes at this from three different angles,” Rezapour said. “Mark oversaw the installation of over 25,000 solar systems and he knows it inside out. He hires and trains the people. Andres is the money and PR man who can take a business to the next level. I come in from the business side and make sure I put my hands around the business, and everything is running smoothly.”
Pinter, who has a background in investment banking and investment management and worked for Ares Management, a non-bank lender, met Rezapour in 2014 through a mutual contact. Pinter arranged financing for Fox at that time.
Meanwhile, Pinter was friends with Vogel, who specializes in residential solar installations and battery storage, and whose company was a borrower from Ares.
“We talked about EV charging, and when I was inspired to leave Ares, I wanted to make sure we nailed the business model,” Pinter said. “It's difficult to make money owning and operating EV chargers. Usage at public charging networks is shockingly low. Many chargers have one or zero charging events per day. I didn’t want to get into manufacturing EV charging equipment because it’s very much a commodity. So, we knew we didn't want to start a charging network and get into owning and operating.”
Vogel managed labor at his previous company, including thousands of electricians and installers, and technicians. He rounded out the trio with the experience needed to start Bullet EV Charging Solutions that installs, maintains, and repairs EV charging equipment.
“Allen is the consummate entrepreneur, and he's built this fantastic company,” Vogel said. “He's an amazing mentor and leader and Andres is an expert in financing. He's lived in that arena for a long time. We will all be able to pull together these pieces and parts to build this infrastructure and install it.”
A Nimble Operation Rooted in Expertise
The businessmen cite a competitive advantage of being asset light and not owning much inventory.
“There’s a huge demand for labor to install the EV chargers that very few of the EV charging companies that exist perform, and usually subcontract out to other companies. We can be the man behind the man,” Pinter said.
Charging networks must be regularly repaired and maintained to operate efficiently, he added. “We have the scope, scale, and headcount to provide services to these networks.”
Because the power grid lacks enough power to charge all the electric vehicles, the industry got ahead of itself on the EV rollout. “We encourage customers of EV chargers to get solar and storage in case of outages or lack of power so they can self-charge.”
The company launched in Texas and is rolling out this month to California, Colorado, and Arizona. “We can pivot where the opportunity is,” Pinter said.
Stability for Fleet Electrification
Fleets will be a major part of Bullet EV's customer base, including municipal and commercial, since both can benefit from the cost savings of all-in-one charging set up, solar, and storage. That helps EV fleets avoid volatility while being able to get incentives and deals for the transition to electrification.
"You can now build these self-contained solar, storage and EV charging environments and mobilize anywhere," Vogel said. "Now you're harvesting the power, you're creating power, you've got the EV chargers all in one place for anyone to use.”
Bullet EV Charging Solutions maintains contracts with charging companies, fleets, and EV charger manufacturers. The company is a certified installer for Tesla and ChargePoint as well as a number of other manufacturers.
Due to the power grid limits, single family homes will be a prime market for solar, battery storage and EV charging, since 80% to 90% of EV charging is done at home, Vogel said.
Bullet EV can handle engineering, design, procurement, and construction. It also recommends hardware, software, and equipment for fleets of all sizes, Rezapour said.
One benefit for fleet owners is that the software can minimize electric bills. "As a fleet owner, you have vehicles going in and out all day plugging in. But in a state like California, where there's time of use and penalties for exceeding certain electrical usage, the software mitigates the costs. We would install that hardware and software and then we would be the provider maintaining, overseeing, and repairing as needed and adding to it as your fleet grows."
Solar storage provides an advantage for fleets since utilities lack the urgency to deal with the grid’s lack of capacity.”
Pinter cited three million EVs on the road, which mostly plug in to the grid at night. “When it becomes 15 million, 30 million, the grid cannot support all that charging,” Pinter said. “We are pitching to consumers, ‘take care of yourself.’ There will be power interruptions at a greater cadence than today because of infrastructure. Our pitch to businesses is you want to operate during power interruptions, so you’ll need power generation and access.”
As Rezapour summed up the new venture: “We have a perfect scenario. I don't know if it's luck, or what. It’s just a very good combination. And I have lots of hope for this company and the industry. I know when I came to the rental car business, it was like three guys going against this big giant, old business that had been there for years. And it was very tough, but we made it, so this business is actually a lot easier.”
Originally posted on Auto Rental News