ChargePoint, a startup that’s emerged to dominate the U.S. market for networked electric vehicle charging stations, has raised its biggest venture round yet to tackle the European market.Thursday’s $82 million
in funding is led by Daimler, adding a second German automaker with big EV ambitions to ChargePoint’s list of investors. Previous investors BMW i Ventures, Linse Capital, Rho Capital Partners, and Braemar Energy Ventures also joined.
The investment brings the Campbell, Calif.-based startup’s total VC funding raised to more than $255 million -- a figure that could increase as the current round fills out with an additional $18 million. The company's previous round was $50 million in May 2016, at which point ChargePoint had about 28,000 EV charging systems networked across the United States.
Since then, that figure has grown to 33,260 charging spots, about 450 of them “express” DC fast chargers. That makes it the largest EV-charging provider in the country, ahead of such contenders as EVgo and Car Charging Group, owner of the network of Blink stations built out by now-bankrupt Ecotality.
ChargePoint doesn’t own the stations themselves. But it does provide the underlying technology to connect the stations with EVs, their drivers and the businesses that host them, to manage pricing, payments, service, and all the other aspects of running an electric fuel station. ChargePoint works with long list of EV charging-system partners, including some, like Siemens, that are also investors.
The new funding will “support the expansion of the company's charging network into Europe, enabling the region to complete the shift to e-mobility,” the company wrote. Europe has a faster-growing EV market than the United States, although both are just a fraction of China’s truly massive EV growth. And, like the United States, Europe is a fragmented market, with lots of pilot projects and software and networking providers from country to country -- something ChargePoint says it can help solve for drivers, as well as for EV charging station owners through custom access controls, pricing and reporting tools.
ChargePoint also got into the residential and multifamily-housing market last year with its ChargePoint Home product, allowing it to claim Thursday that it’s the “only company that offers a charging solution for every part of an EV driver's life -- at home, at work, around town and on the road." About 6,500 companies use the service, boosted by offers like its no-money-down financing with partners like Key Equipment Finance. On the smart grid front, ChargePoint and behind-the-meter battery startup Green Charge Networks are showcasing a California pilot project that uses plugged-in EVs as flexible loads for grid services.
ChargePoint will also “build on its long history in North America of promoting EV-friendly policies through partnerships with policymakers, utilities and automakers in Europe,” the company wrote. Most recently, ChargePoint has weighed in on California utilities’ plans to spend $1 billion and up on EV charging rollouts to demand openness to third-party vendors like itself. In Europe, ChargePoint is already working with Daimler's BMW and Volkswagen to network 100 DC fast chargers.
As for Daimler, it announced last year at the Paris Auto Show that it’s going to bring more than 10 new electric cars to market through its BMW and Smart lines. It also unveiled its CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Sharing & Services, and Electric Drive) business strategy, which brings car sharing, networked vehicle services, and perhaps autonomous driving, into the same business unit. Thursday’s announcement noted that Daimler AG executive Axel Harries, who’s in charge of the CASE unit, is joining ChargePoint’s board of directors.
“While pursuing the systematic expansion of our CASE ecosystem based on our new product brand EQ, we also remain open and ready for partnerships and cooperation at the highest level,” Harries said in Thursday’s announcement. “ChargePoint is a company of experts in the field of electric mobility charging solutions with a great deal of know-how in both hardware and software.”
“Together we will be able to significantly expand our product portfolio in the area of intelligent charging solutions and provide the customer with an all-embracing premium offer for electric mobility,” he said.