Author(s): Raghu Gopal
On Wednesday, ChargePoint, the world's leading charging network for electric vehicles, announced that it has won $240 million in a series H funding round, the largest in its history. The company has now raised more than $500 million since its inception.
The investors reflect a diverse set of participants including American Electric Power, Chevron Technology Ventures, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Daimler Trucks & Buses, as well as others from sectors spanning energy, finance, venture capital, oil and gas, utility, manufacturing, technology and automotive.
The latest fundraising effort comes during a strong growth period for ChargePoint that stems from the rising number of car-makers planning to produce electric vehicles. Manufacturers including General Motors, Volkswagen, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have either launched electric models or are in the process of doing so.
Founded in California in 2007, ChargePoint says it has deployed "more than 57,000 independently owned public and semi-public charging spots" in North America, Europe and Australia. It caters to individual owners of plug-in vehicles and also builds out infrastructure to charge fleets.
Although sales of electric cars around the world are still dwarfed by those of internal combustion engine vehicles, a growing push toward cleaner cars is slowly turning the tide. ChargePoint wants to be ready when the tide turns into a deluge.
The total number of electric cars in circulation is expected to reach 5 million units by the end of 2018, up from about 3 million at the end of 2017. China and Europe are among the markets leading the charge. China is projected to reach more than 1 million units in 2018, helped by the more than 100 Chinese-made models on the market. It's also home to giants in this area including BYD as well as start-ups such as NIO, which raised about $1 billion in an initial public offering earlier in the year. In a bid to energize the automotive sector and to cut down on pollution that's rampant in cities like Beijing, the government offers subsidies to buy electric cars.
ChargePoint will use the latest cash infusion to further expand its network in Europe and North America, as much of the future growth of electric cars will depend on the availability of charging stations. As markets quickly adopt cleaner transport thanks to the advantages it holds over conventional vehicles, the wider availability of chargers will enhance the experience for drivers of electric cars and relieve them from so-called range anxiety.