ChargePoint Raises $50M Amid Growing Interest in Electric Vehicles

ChargePoint, the Silicon Valley company that installs charging points for electric vehicles, has raised $50 million to help it expand, including potentially internationally, and to scale up its newer residential and fast-charge business, the company announced.

The Series F round was led by Linse Capital, the new investment firm founded by former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Michael Linse. It comes amid growing interest in electric vehicles worldwide, with global sales of EVs up 80 percent last year to more than 565,000. And Tesla has famously met with strong early demand for its Model 3 and has announced plans to be producing 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018.

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Sales of EVs have been hampered so far in part by a lack of widespread charging points, though that’s changing. When it launched in 2007, Campbell, Calif.-based ChargePoint focused on building a network of public charging stations; that network today has more than 28,000 in North America, according to Fortune.

Since early last year, the company has been expanding into the home and long-distance travel charging markets with new product lines, CEO Pasquale Romano tells Fortune.

Last summer, ChargePoint announced a partnership with energy storage company Green Charge Networks, which will see Green Charge Networks’ batteries installed at some ChargePoint stations. The combination is intended to reduce or eliminate expensive demand charges that are caused by spikes in power usage — high costs that often serve as a barrier to install EV charging stations. The two companies’ first energy storage/EV charging station combo was installed in Redwood City, Calif. last year.

And in April, ChargePoint opened the largest public EV-charging station in California, KRON reports. The station is at a parking garage in Santa Clara, near the Santa Clara Convention Center, California’s Great America and Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play. It has 48 Level 2 chargers and one DC Fast Charger. The project received a $393,000 grant from the California Energy Commission, according to a release, and uses battery technology from Green Charge Networks, who’s “smart” energy storage system combines lithium ion batteries with software to manage power usage in order to reduce demand charges on businesses.

Besides Linse Capital, other participants in ChargePoint’s latest funding round included Braemar Energy Ventures and Constellation Energy. Linse Capital has raised $70 million from investors including Statoil Energy Ventures, Envision Ventures, BMW engineer Jan Klatten, Bloomberg New Enerygy Finance founder Michael Liebreich and Rick Wagoner, the former CEO of General Motors. ChargePoint is Linse Capital’s first investment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Charge Point has raised $164 million to date. Past investors have included Kleiner Perkins, Rho Ventures, BMW iVentures and Siemens.

The company has plans to expand into Europe and possibly even China, Romano told Fortune, though he did not provide a timeline for entering either.

Other recent developments in charging stations across North America and Asia include:

– The University of Vermont and the Burlington Electric Department installed four dual port electric vehicle around the university’s campus in Burlington.  “We’re proud that UVM is playing a leadership role in helping Vermont put more electric vehicles on the road and achieve its goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a result,” university president Tom Sullivan says in a press release.

– Ontario will spend about C$20 million (US$15.5 million) to build 500 charging stations across the province by 2017, the Toronto Star reports. The stations will offer a mix of Level 2 and DC Fast Chargers. Ontario has about 5,800 electric vehicles right now, the Star says. The government recently  increased incentives: electric car buyers are now eligible for rebates of up to $14,000, depending on the price of the car.

– British Columbia plans a network of 30 fast charging stations. It presently has 23, including the latest, installed near the Trans-Canadian Highway. It’s the ninth fast-charge station installed in the Vancouver metro area, the Vancouver Sun reports. BC has about 700 Level 2 charging stations, including 250 in Vancouver.  Metro Vancouver has up to 1,800 electric vehicles, according to the Sun.

– In China, Beijing intends to build thousands of EV charging stations this year, Xinhua News Agencyreports. The megacity had just 172 charging facilities at the end of 2015. Plans call for the installation of 14 large charging facilities at expressway service stations and nearly 5,900 smaller ones in urban areas, according to the Beijing Electric Power Company. Right now there are only seven charging stations at expressway service stations. All of the new charging stations will be able to charge multiple vehicles at once.  And China’s Ministry of Transport is planning to invest $770 billion, 6.9 per cent of China’s 2015 gross domestic product, in transport infrastructure over the next three years to help keep its economy growing, says the Financial Times.

– And in Singapore, the government is hatching plans to install 2,000 charging points for a nationwide EV sharing program, the Straits-Times reports.


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