It's not unheard of for the fans of well-loved brands—e.g. Tesla—to decide to buy shares in the company.
It's somewhat less common for companies to reach out to their customers en masse and pitch all of them on buying shares in the company.
That's apparently what the Blink charging network has done, according to numerous posts in electric-car forums from members who use its stations.
DON'T MISS: Got A Blink Charging Station? ChargePoint Offers Up To $2,200 For You To Switch (Oct 2013)
Many electric-car drivers who enrolled in the Blink network to use its public charging stations received an e-mail 10 days ago from its CEO, Mike Calise.
He notes the company has "filed documentation with the Securities Exchange Commission [sic] regarding a public offering of our securities and, at our request, the underwriters of that offer have agreed to consider reserving a number of the shares of common stock being offered for our Blink members."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Twelve days after this article was published on January 22, 2018, Blink responded to it with a three-paragraph statement from the company's CEO. While the statement does not dispute any of our original reporting, we have added it to the article in the interests of fairness.
The Blink network was launched a decade ago by a startup company called Ecotality that received $100 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to build public charging stations for electric cars under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The first modern, mass-market electric cars hit the market in December 2010, and the Blink network grew along with numerous other networks from 2010 through 2013 as part of "The EV Project" launched by the DoE.
Even in those early days, however, Blink's charging stations were viewed by electric-car drivers as problematic: their hardware seemed to break down more often, and it appeared that repairs could take weeks.
READ THIS: Charging Network Reliability Varies Wildly, Study Says (May 2012)
Indeed, a study presented in May 2012 by Tom Saxton of the advocacy group Plug In America showed Blink's charging stations to be offline more frequently and for longer periods than those from competitor ChargePoint from January through April of that year.
Ecotality itself collapsed into bankruptcy in September 2013, and the Blink network was purchased for $3.3 million the following month by the Florida company Car Charging Group.
The same year, the company also purchased the 350Green charging network—whose former CEO pleaded guilty to fraud last May was sentenced to two years in prison in September—along with Beam Charging and EVPass.
2015 Kia Soul EV and 2014 Nissan Leaf, at Blink DC fast charger - Fife, WA
Last August, the Car Charging Group changed its name to Blink Charging. Its stock is presently traded over the counter [OTC:CCGI].
Judging by continuing complaints from electric-car drivers on forums over the following five years, it appears Blink continues to struggle with reliability and support.
The general tenor of Blink members approached about the stock purchase, at least those who have posted publicly about receiving it, has not been particularly favorable.
CHECK OUT: Blink Electric-Car Charging Network Owner Files For Bankruptcy (Oct 2013)
Many drivers have complained about the reliability, or lack of it, of the company's DC quick-charging units, which can be found in California, Florida, Maryland, New York, and Virginia, among other states.
In a discussion thread on the Facebook group for San Francisco Bay Area owners of Nissan Leaf electric cars, for example, one member wrote, "Always avoid using Blink due to its unreliability."
Another said, "Since my Blink [home] station is out of warranty, I won't depend on Blink or Car Charging or whatever they are named to fix my Blink when it dies. I'll likely replace it with something new. I'd advise others with a Blink to be prepared to do the same."
Blink network - charging by the kWh
A third commented, "I also run into reliability issues with their CHAdeMO public [DC fast] chargers. When they break it takes months for them to fix the unit."
The company's e-mail to members included a link to an investor inquiry form and the company's most recently amended S-1 form detailing the offering itself, filed January 11 of this year.
Green Car Reports doesn't cover financial analysis, so we will leave it to the professionals and knowledgeable amateurs to determine for themselves the potential viability of investing in Blink.
Blink network - charging by the kWh
UPDATE: On February 2, 2018, Blink provided the following statement from CEO Mike Calise in response to our article:
While we can’t speak on behalf of Ecotality and the uptime of the stations prior to our acquisition of the Blink-related assets, since the acquisition, we have worked diligently to service the stations, enhance the network, build relationships with property partners, and improve customer support.
In order to continue to service stations, expand locations, and launch our next generation of EV charging equipment, we have worked hard to plan for the necessary capital to do so. Given how passionate and committed we have learned that the EV community is, we wanted to inform Blink members of our public offering. Our underwriters have received very enthusiastic responses to date and we are pleased to know that members are interested in supporting the overall EV mission.
The entire EV ecosystem, including auto [makers], other EV charging companies, property owners, and especially drivers benefit with more accessible charging stations, and many Blink members are demonstrating an outpouring of support by investing in the overall mission in various ways. Given that pervasive EV charging infrastructure is the critical component to driving EV adoption, the entire industry benefits by improving the availability of accessible charging stations.