Atieva, an early-stage developer of battery packs for plug-in cars, secured just over $7 million in financing this week, according to an SEC filing. The startup’s backers now include Beijing’s China Environment Fund III and Venrock Associates, a venture capital firm that Atieva sales and marketing chief Mike Harrigan told us in May had previously invested less than $10 million in the company’s first round of financing. At the time, Harrigan said the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup was looking to raise a second round.
Founded in 2007 by former Tesla Motors VP Bernard Tse and Astoria Networks founder Sam Weng, Atieva is working on software for monitoring individual battery cells, mechanical packaging and controls for vehicle battery packs. Using commodity cells, the idea is to produce customized packs primarily for smaller, independent car companies.
The investment from the China Environment Fund (managed by state-backed Tsing Capital) is not the first sign Atieva hopes to break into the China auto market in the early days of a significant boom for electric vehicles in the country. When we spoke with Harrigan earlier this year, he said the company was working with lithium-ion cell giant Lishen to build 3,000 battery packs for buses in China as part of a nationally subsidized initiative. The company was also “in active talks” at the time with Chinese and European automakers that are interested in deploying test fleets of electric vehicles, as well as a U.S.-based electric motorcycle maker.
We’ve reached out to Atieva for details on what it hopes to achieve with this new funding. But if Atieva is going to reach Harrigan’s expectations for the next 3-5 years — producing hundreds of thousands of packs per year, with high-power electrical engineering, tooling, and development of automation taking place in Taiwan, and software and system development remaining in Silicon Valley — it’s time to get cracking.