Better Place continues to play the investment alphabet game, with the company's Series C funding round netting $200 million of new financing from the likes of General Electric Co (not a surprise at all) and UBS. Even though many in the automotive industry are still skeptical of Better Place's battery swapping plan, the company is covering its bases with a robust, more standard charging scheme that sells miles the way cell phone companies sell minutes. The complete package is now worth $2.25 billion, at least according to investors.
During our visit to the Better Place visitor center in Tel Aviv, we learned that Israel is as good a place as any for Better Place to start a robust network. With that deal in place and others bringing Better Place to Tokyo and Hawaii, the new $200 million is earmarked for expansion in Western Europe. Better Place CEO Shai Agassi told Reuters that his company has proven that the model works and, "that it's in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners."
PALO ALTO, Calif.--(November 11, 2011) – With the launch of the first nationwide electric car networks in Israel and Denmark just months away, Better Place today announced that it has secured $200 million through a Series C equity financing from a consortium of top-tier investors and partners, nearly doubling the company's valuation to $2.25 billion (post money valuation on a fully diluted basis) since the last financing in January 2010. Since its founding in 2007, Better Place has raised more than $750 million of equity financing globally in an economic climate where investors continue to seek a competitive alternative to oil.
Better Place will use the proceeds to expand into Western Europe while it continues to advance the company's deployment projects in Northern California, Southern China, Japan, Ontario, Canada, and Hawaii. The company will launch its initial commercial service in Israel and Denmark early next year and has already announced a series of consumer offerings for electric mobility services that are competitive with gasoline-based cars. Better Place will begin initial commercial service in the second quarter of 2012 in Australia, starting in Canberra.
"We've worked hard over the past four years to engineer and build a technology solution that competes with oil-based transportation," said Shai Agassi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Better Place. "We are entering the next phase of growth for our company where we prove that our solution works, that it's in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners. I believe that our investors should be applauded for having the vision to finance the future of transportation."
New investors in the Series C round include GE and UBS AG, among others. Existing shareholders, including Israel Corp., HSBC Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Ofer Group and Maniv Energy Capital also joined the round. The Series C financing transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"With this round, our shareholder base now includes the world's largest banks, blue chip asset managers and leading industrial holding companies," said Idan Ofer, Chairman, Better Place. "Our Board, as well as all of our investors, continues to be both confident and enthusiastic about the opportunity that Better Place presents. The highly competent Better Place team has the talent and technology to rapidly deploy its electric car network on a global scale. Our Board and investor base are committed to leveraging their vast networks, experience, and diverse set of skills to accelerate the global adoption of electric cars."
BETTER PLACE TARGETS WESTERN EUROPE NEXT
By the end of the year, Better Place will have demonstrated its solution across four continents including locations in Europe, the Middle East, the U.S., Australia, China and Japan, with each project providing unique insights into these markets.
With the Series C financing, Better Place will expand its geographic footprint beyond Denmark and further into Western Europe where government policy supporting electric cars and interest in public / private partnership are the strongest.
The company, which currently has more than 100 employees in Europe, will leverage its Danish operations, its European Commission-approved projects, and its market-leading ecosystem of partners as the building blocks for expanding into Western Europe. In September, Better Place opened an office in Paris to serve as its European headquarters, which it will use as a base for attracting talent, investors, and partners.
BETTER PLACE SET TO LAUNCH COMMERCIAL SERVICE
Better Place will launch initial commercial service to a select group of customers in Israel and Denmark in the first quarter of 2012, expanding to full commercial operations over the following months. A similar process will follow in Canberra, Australia in the second quarter of 2012. The company is currently in the final technical validation stage of its solution along with the Renault Fluence Z.E. cars. Interest and demand for Better Place mobility services and the Renault Fluence Z.E. electric sedans continues to be very strong across all three initial markets. Better Place's goal is to help make the switchable battery electric car the top selling car in the markets it enters.
In Israel, Better Place has seen strong market demand from both fleets and consumers, as over 400 corporations, representing a potential of 80,000 employee cars, have signed letters of intent to begin switching their fleets to Better Place as the cars and the service become available.
Denmark is also seeing strong momentum. Almost 7,000 people have come to the Better Place Center in Copenhagen, opened earlier this year, with 90 percent expressing an interest in buying an electric car in the future. The company has received over 1,000 pre orders from both private and business customers. Better Place also has been successful in reaching agreements with 50 of the country's 98 municipalities, covering 69 percent of the population, related to infrastructure deployment and fleet transitions.
In Australia, the company's first large country deployment, Better Place has announced a series of agreements with multi-national companies, including Renault and GE, and leading local companies including ActewAGL, Lend Lease, and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), for the introduction of electric cars and the rapid deployment of an electric car network. By the end of 2013, Better Place expects to have the largest electric car network in the world in Australia, rivaling other competitive efforts underway in the U.S. and China.
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