Better Place and its utility partner in Denmark said Tuesday they have raised €103 million ($135.5 million) to start building stations for charging electric cars.
The funding, a mix of cash and convertible debt, will enable the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup to build its first market in Europe, the company said. Better Place signed a deal with Danish utility Dong Energy last year to set up a network of car-charging and battery-swapping stations.
Dong is providing part of the funding, but the names of other investors aren't being disclosed, said Dong spokeswoman Andreas Krog. A Better Place spokeswoman said Dong is the primary investor, but declined to disclose more information.
The utility plans to provide wind power to the charging network. Dong sees electric-car battery and charging technologies as good solutions to store and consume the wind power it produces.
Denmark overall gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy, but exports 7 percent of it because of a lack of energy storage equipment. This problem affects utilities elsewhere in the world as they generate an increasing amount of electricity from solar and wind power plants, which can't produce a steady supply of power around the clock.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance, working with Better Place, plans to start selling electric cars in Denmark in 2011.
Better Place also has hired Jens Moberg to be the CEO of Better Place Denmark and also leads business development for Better Place's markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Moberg, who will step into his new role on Feb. 2, came from Microsoft, where he worked on expanding the software giant's reach in Russian, India and China.
Better Place has generated a lot of publicity for a series of deals in different parts of the world, including a $1 billion project in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company also has deals to set up charging and battery-swapping networks in Australia, Canada, Hawaii and Israel.
But big questions remain about where it would find the money and develop the technologies to deploy those networks in the next few years, when major carmakers will begin to mass produce plug-in hybrid cars. A Better Place spokeswoman recently said the company is working with Macquarie Capital to raise private equity for rollouts in Australia and Ontario, Canada (see Green Light post).
Last month, the company demonstrated its charging technology in Israel and said it was starting to roll out other charging spots in the country.
Better Place will find that competition for the electric-car charging market will intensify as more plug-in hybrid cars become available to consumers, starting in 2010. Coulomb Technologies, a startup in Campbell, Calif., is also rolling out charging stations.
Coulomb, which recently raised $3.75 million, has a different business model than Better Place. Coulomb is selling its charging devices to distributors, as well as selling subscription services to consumers for using the charging stations (see Coulomb Bags $3.75M for Electric-Car Charging).