Better Place Borrows $45 Million to Complete EV Charging Network

The European Investment Bank is loaning Better Place $45 million (40 million euros) to finish building out its electric vehicle charging networks in Denmark and Israel.

Rather than have to wait while the battery re-charges, Better Place allows drivers to simply switch their drained battery for a charged one and then drive on. 

In Denmark, Better Place electric vehicle battery switching stations connect Copenhagen to Aarhus, one of the most traveled routes in the country.

Better Place has raised $750 million in venture capital – this is the first credit line it’s opened to help fund charging network installations.

“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,” says Shai Agassi, founder and CEO, 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."

Better Place has been a darling of the venture capital community. In 2010, it raised the single largest round of VC money, $350 million – even more than social media powerhouse Twitter.

The company is also working with several consortiums and European Union funding programs to finance its European network buildout. These include the EU’s TEN-T program, "Greening European Transportation Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles”; the European Comission’s sustainable mobility project, “Green eMotion”; and the “EasyBat” consortium, which is developing off-the-shelf components and a generic interface that supports switchable batteries.

“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,” says Agassi. “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.”

Israel was the first market for Better Place, where about half of the planned network of Battery Switch Stations is in place.

After Denmark and Israel, Better Place plans to concentrate on Australia later in the year, starting in Canberra. It has networks planned for Hawaii, Northern California, Ontario, Canada, Southern China and Japan.

Other companies hoping to claim leadership in electric vehicle charging infrastructure are Coulomb Technologies, which has more than 6,900 locations worldwide; and General Electric, which has installed its WattStation in several thousand locations worldwide. Other contenders are ECOtality Inc. and NRG Energy.

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