Better Place, a developer and provider of electric car networks—including battery switch stations, batteries and public/personal charge spots (earlier post)—worldwide, has secured $200 million through a Series C equity financing from a consortium of top-tier investors and partners, nearly doubling the company’s valuation to $2.25 billion (post money valuation on a fully diluted basis) since the last financing in January 2010.
New investors in the Series C round include GE and UBS AG, among others. Existing shareholders, including Israel Corp., HSBC Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Ofer Group and Maniv Energy Capital, also joined the round. The Series C financing transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Since its founding in 2007, Better Place has raised more than $750 million of equity financing globally. Better Place will use the proceeds to expand into Western Europe while it continues to advance the company’s deployment projects in Northern California, Southern China, Japan, Ontario, Canada, and Hawaii. The company will launch its initial commercial service in Israel and Denmark early next year and has already announced a series of consumer offerings for electric mobility services that it says are competitive with gasoline-based cars.
We’ve worked hard over the past four years to engineer and build a technology solution that competes with oil-based transportation. We are entering the next phase of growth for our company where we prove that our solution works, that it’s in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners. I believe that our investors should be applauded for having the vision to finance the future of transportation.—Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO
By the end of the year, Better Place will have demonstrated its solution across four continents including locations in Europe, the Middle East, the US, Australia, China and Japan, with each project providing insights into these markets.
With the Series C financing, Better Place will expand its geographic footprint beyond Denmark and further into Western Europe where government policy supporting electric cars and interest in public / private partnership are the strongest.
The company, which currently has more than 100 employees in Europe, will leverage its Danish operations, its European Commission-approved projects, and its market-leading ecosystem of partners as the building blocks for expanding into Western Europe. In September, Better Place opened an office in Paris to serve as its European headquarters, which it will use as a base for attracting talent, investors, and partners.
Better Place will launch initial commercial service to a select group of customers in Israel and Denmark in the first quarter of 2012, expanding to full commercial operations over the following months. A similar process will follow in Canberra, Australia in the second quarter of 2012. The company is currently in the final technical validation stage of its solution along with the Renault Fluence Z.E. cars. Better Place’s goal is to help make the switchable battery electric car the top selling car in the markets it enters.
In Israel, Better Place says it has seen strong market demand from both fleets and consumers, as more than 400 corporations, representing a potential of 80,000 employee cars, have signed letters of intent to begin switching their fleets to Better Place as the cars and the service become available.
Denmark also shows momentum—almost 7,000 people have come to the Better Place Center in Copenhagen, opened earlier this year, with 90% expressing an interest in buying an electric car in the future. The company has received more than 1,000 pre-orders from both private and business customers. Better Place also has been successful in reaching agreements with 50 of the country’s 98 municipalities, covering 69% of the population, related to infrastructure deployment and fleet transitions.
In Australia, the company’s first large country deployment, Better Place has announced a series of agreements with multi-national companies, including Renault and GE, and leading local companies including ActewAGL, Lend Lease, and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), for the introduction of electric cars and the rapid deployment of an electric car network. By the end of 2013, Better Place expects to have the largest electric car network in the world in Australia, rivaling other competitive efforts underway in the US and China.