Coulomb Technologies Charges Up With $3.8M for Electric Car Network

coulombcharging1small1Smart-charging startup Coulomb Technologies, announced today that it has raised $3.8 million in its first round of venture capital funding. The round, led by Berlin’s Estag Capital, could be the cash the company needs to make a move into overseas markets.

Richard Lowenthal, founder and CEO of Coulomb — which up till now has been backed by angel financing — told us late last year that the company was planning to enter the European market in 2009. In a statement today, Lowenthal said he considers Estag not only an important investor, but a partner in delivering Coulomb’s vehicle charging infrastructure worldwide.

Founded in 2007, Coulomb is pushing a subscription-based service for its charging networks, similar to the system touted by the higher-profile, and more well-funded, Better Place, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Having a local partner in Europe could be helpful, but Coulomb faces some big-name competition once it heads overseas, even in Estag’s hometown of Berlin. Last September, Germany’s Daimler (s DAI) announced that it would work with utility RWE to set up a car charging network in the capital city. Daimler plans to put more than 100 electric cars on Berlin’s roads by 2010, including cars from its Smart and Mercedes-Benz lines, with RWE handling the installation of 500 charging stations.

Coulomb, which installed its first demonstration systems in San Jose, Calif., earlier this month, also faces competition at home and abroad from Better Place, which has yet to make a deal in Germany, but already has projects planned for Israel, Denmark, Australia and California.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance — a Better Place partner on some projects — is also making car-charging infrastructure deals, announcing most recently that it plans to work on a charging network in Switzerland. Renault-Nissan also has projects in Portugal, Monaco, France, Japan and the U.S.