ChargePoint, one of the last U.S. electric vehicle charging startups still standing, has raised $22.6 million in venture capital financing, with an eye on new markets and new products for its networked charging station fleet.
Monday’s investment brings the Campbell, Calif.-based startup’s total raised to $110 million since its 2007 founding, with backers including Rho Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Braemar Energy Ventures, Siemens Venture Capital, Voyager Capital and BMW.
That’s not a lot of money, compared to the $850 million raised by Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Better Place. It’s less than the $100 million competitor ECOtality received from the Department of Energy to build its network of 14,500 charging stations in cities across the country.
But while both of those companies have gone bankrupt, ChargePoint (formerly Coulomb Technologies) has managed to expand, with about 17,000 public charging stations nationwide. The closest competitor, Florida-based Car Charging Group, bought bankrupt companies 350Green and ECOtality to reach its total of about 14,000 charging stations nationwide.
ChargePoint’s network includes both its own charging hardware, and, increasingly, equipment from an expanding list of partners like Schneider Electric, Eaton, Fuji Electric, Leviton and Siemens. The startup builds the software and manages the cloud computing platform to monitor and control charging stations, provide a smooth, safe and secure customer experience, and bill everyone correctly at the end of the day.
These are all important characteristics for the mall and retail chain property managers, corporate sustainability executives and others who are making decisions about EV charging investments. They’re also critical to securing renewed public support to EV charging infrastructure, in light of the poor reviews for competitors like ECOtality and 350Green, which have left swaths of publicly funded charging stations broken down and unfixed, according to reports.
ChargePoint also received $37 million in DOE and California state funding to install 4,600 charging stations. In the meantime, it has been integrating its card payment systems with ECOtality’s Blink network’s card system, under a partnership formed last year that’s lasted through ECOtality’s bankruptcy, Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO, told me in an April interview
Last month the company announced the fruits of that work in the form of a common billing systems for Nissan's new free public charging offer for new Leaf buyers in North America. That system links ChargePoint's network, NRG Energy’s eVgo charging platform being deployed in Texas and California, and ECOtality’s remaining Blink station, using a single card being managed by ChargePoint.
Meanwhile, BMW is now offering North American buyers of its i3 EV access to ChargePoint’s network of public charging stations, including a ChargePoint app for the car's dashboard navigation system. Mobile apps to guide drivers to available spots are also part of the mix, and “Later on, we’ll be linking the networks together, as we do more interoperability stuff – and then, you’ll only need one account,” Romano said last month.