EV infrastructure startup set sights on post-diesel boom
ChargePoint, the Campbell, Ca.-based startup that provides charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, has raised another $43 million in funding to bolster its roll-out in Europe.
Much of the latest (G series) funding round comes from German engineering giant Siemens, which will take its place alongside BMW and Daimler in the shareholder list alongside venture capital backers like Rho Capital Partners, Braemar Energy Ventures, and Linse Capital. ChargePoint has now raised just under $300 million since it was founded 10 years ago.
Siemens is one of the world’s biggest and most advanced providers of energy management systems, and will provide valuable expertise as a growing army of EV owners start to use their cars not just for getting around, but for actively managing their own – and their utility’s – electricity needs.
The value of electricity swings sharply every day due to the fact that it can’t easily be stored, a problem that is getting worse in the short term with the spread of solar and wind power. But industry experts expect the spread of EVs to become an important source of short-term storage, allowing owners to take power out of the grid when it’s cheap, and either use it at home, or even push it back into the grid, when it’s expensive.
“As you get into balancing the equation of battery storage, renewables generation and EV charging, you need a sophisticated partner,” CEO Pasquale Romano told Fortune.
Romano said the latest funding is earmarked exclusively for expanding ChargePoint’s network across Europe, where the market environment for electric vehicles has brightened since a multi-billion dollar emissions scandal engulfed Volkswagen and other European carmakers who were wedded to diesel engine technology.
Most of Europe is now rushing to move beyond diesel and its associated air quality problems: Volkswagen, for example, says it wants to be selling at least 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2025, while countries including from Germany, Spain and the U.K. are all considering ways to cut the number of diesel vehicles on their streets. Electric and hybrid car registrations were up 50% year-on-year in the EU the first three months of 2017.
“In a year, we’re going to be sitting here with some very, very significant changes in cities in Europe,” Romano said, adding that ChargePoint is “crazy busy, crazy active” recruiting staff in both Germany and the U.K..
The company is also still pretty active in growing its U.S. network: earlier this week it agreed to buy General Electric’s EV charging business, expanding the overall number of its charging stations by around one quarter. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.