Volvo Cars has acquired a stake in mobile EV rapid charging company FreeWire Technologies (earlier post) via the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. BP’s venturing business invested $5 million in FreeWire earlier this year.
FreeWire is a San Francisco-based company that has been a pioneer in flexible fast-charging technology for electric cars. It specializes in both stationary and mobile fast charging technology, allowing electric car charging to be deployed quickly and widely.
Freewire products currently offer Level 2 charging at 7.5 kW or DC fast charging at 50 kW. The L2 models recharge from a wall outlet; each unit is equipped with dual J1772 plugs and can charge 2 vehicles at once. The L3 fast chargers also recharge from a wall outlet; each model is compatible with CHAdeMO or Tesla standards.
Freewire says it is developing a 120 kW fast charging solution that will add 480 miles of range in 1 hour.
While Volvo Cars’ electrification strategy does not envision direct ownership of charging or service stations, the investment in FreeWire reinforces its overall commitment to supporting a widespread transition to electric mobility together with other partners, the company said.
Installing traditional fixed fast-charging stations is usually a cost- and labor intensive process that requires electrical upgrades to support the connection between charging stations and the main electrical grid. FreeWire’s charging stations remove that complication and use low-voltage power, allowing operators simply to use existing power outlets. Drivers thus can enjoy all the benefits of fast charging without operators needing to go through the hassle of establishing a high-voltage connection to the grid.
Every new Volvo car launched from 2019 will be electrified, and by 2025 the company aims for fully electric cars to make up 50% of its overall global sales.
Volvo Cars’ future is electric, as reflected by our industry-leading commitment to electrify our entire product range. To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank. Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company’s ambitions in this area.—Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund
The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched earlier this year and aims to invest in high-potential technology start-ups around the globe. It focuses its investments on strategic technology trends transforming the auto industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous drive and digital mobility services.
Earlier this year, the Volvo Cars Tech Fund announced its first investment in Luminar Technologies, a leading start-up in the development of advanced sensor technology for use in autonomous vehicles, with whom Volvo Cars collaborates on the development and testing of its LiDAR sensing technology on Volvo cars.
Companies benefit from participation by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund as they may gain the ability to validate technologies, accelerate market introduction, as well as potentially access Volvo Cars’ global network and unique position in the Chinese car market.