The electric-vehicle battery-swapping company said Tuesday that it received a 40-million euro (U.S. $50 million) loan from the European Investment Bank, marking the company's first credit line after raising all of its existing funding in the form of equity.
Better Place will use most of the funds to expand its battery-swapping network throughout Denmark and will use the remaining money to do the same in Israel. Founder Shai Agassi said that the funding will get Better Place a step closer to building out a charging "corridor" between Copenhagen and Paris in which EV drivers will be able to swap batteries all along the 750-mile drive.
Better Place said in January that it had raised about $750 million in funding since being founded in 2007. In February, Bloomberg News reported that Better Place would likely go public within two years in expectations that funding opportunities would increase as EVs become more prevalent.
Earlier this summer, Better Place said its vehicles had been driven over a million kilometers (625,000 miles) through standard recharging and by using battery-swapping stations in Israel and Denmark. At the time, the company, which uses Renault Z.E. EVs for the testing process, was operating about 55 switching stations in Denmark and Israel and had processed about 15,000 battery swaps.
August 28, 2012
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Better Place today announced that the company has secured a €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank. The loan marks the first-ever credit facility from a financial institution for Better Place and continues support for innovation and sustainable transportation by the European Investment Bank.
The majority of the proceeds from the loan (approximately €30 million) will be used to finalize network deployments and fund operations in Denmark. The remaining proceeds will be used for similar purposes in Israel.
"After a comprehensive due diligence process, the European Investment Bank has concluded that Better Place represents both a classic infrastructure project and a clear step towards innovative low carbon transport," said Shai Agassi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Better Place. "The credit facility gives us a more flexible, balanced capital structure that allows us to expand our operations without solely relying on equity. We applaud the EIB, one of the most respected financial institutions in Europe, for taking the time to thoroughly evaluate our business model, and we look forward to continued collaboration with EIB as our European operations grow."
The commitment from the European Investment Bank marks the fourth major commitment by a European Institution to Better Place as the company grows its European operations.
In Denmark, the Better Place network of Battery Switch Stations now connects Copenhagen to Aarhus, allowing Danish drivers to complete one of the most important routes in the country. The first Copenhagen Battery Switch Station in the Danish network – and soon a second one in Amsterdam – are part of a de-carbonization infrastructure project co-financed by the European Union's TEN-T program, "Greening European Transportation Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles." Better Place also participates in the European Commission's sustainable mobility project, "Green eMotion," which is part of the European Green Car Initiative.
On the automotive technology side, Better Place participates in the "EasyBat" consortium, which is developing off-the-shelf components and standardizing a generic interface between the battery and electric cars with switchable batteries. The project will make it easier for more automotive manufacturers to add this technology to their portfolio and meet the European Union's 95 grams / kilometers tailpipe CO2 emissions standard.
"Our goal is to continue to work with European institutions and partners who share our vision for electric transport so that one day you can drive from Copenhagen to Paris in a fully electric car by switching batteries along the way," Agassi said. "The Copenhagen-Paris corridor is 1,220 kilometers, which is about the same distance I recently drove in a trip across Israel in a Renault Fluence Z.E., switching batteries without stopping to charge."
In Israel, the company's first market, more than half of the planned network of Battery Switch Stations is now available for use by customers, enabling drivers the freedom to drive across the country.
In Israel and Denmark combined, the company reported that it has more than 500 Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars with switchable batteries on the roads, logging 3 million electric kilometres year-to-date during the company's controlled launch.
Better Place is backed by a world-class group of investors including HSBC and Israel Corp. that are fully dedicated to the company's long-term success and view Better Place as a long-term, transformational investment in their portfolio. The company has raised more than $750 million of equity financing to date.
About Better Place Better Place is the leading global provider of electric car networks that enables the mass market adoption of electric cars through an innovative battery switch model that makes driving electric cars more affordable, convenient and sustainable than today's petrol-based cars. Better Place owns and operates a network of battery switch stations and public/personal charge spots, along with the supply of batteries that power the cars, to provide drivers with instant range extension and the convenience to drive, switch and go across an entire region. Where possible, Better Place uses renewable sources of energy to deliver fully zero emissions driving. The World Economic Forum has named Better Place a "Global Growth Company Industry Shaper" for its innovative approach in advancing the global switch to electric cars. Check out www.betterplace.com
Forward-Looking Statements In this press release and in related comments by our management, our use of the words "expect," "possible," "believe," "continue," "may," "will," "positioned", "promised" or similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements that represent our current judgment about possible future events. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors. Among other items, such factors might include: our ability to complete testing and certification as expected; our ability to expand commercial operations and increase revenue; our ability to offer nationwide coverage in Israel and Denmark in the expected time frame; our ability to move forward with Battery Switch Station deployment in other countries; and our ability to attract new customers. Better Place disclaims any obligation to update information contained in these forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.