Better Place Raises Financing for Denmark Electric Car Project

The proliferation of electric cars and convenient places to charge them took another step toward becoming reality in Denmark today, with the announcement that startup Better Place and Danish partner DONG Energy have closed €103 million ($135.8 million) in financing for an electric car-charging network in the country.

The two companies originally signed a deal to work together last March. With this funding in place, which comes from Better Place and state-controlled DONG in the form of equity and convertible debt, the two partners plan to have a demonstration center set up in Denmark this year — in time to show off the technology at the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December.

The electric cars will come from the Renault-Nissan Alliance, with Better Place and DONG still aiming for the charging network to be fully functional by mid-2011.

The amount of funding that each company put up for this project was not disclosed, but Martin Wiinholt, a spokesman for Better Place, told us via email that the funding from Better Place comes from new money raised, and not from its existing funding.

In a press conference in Denmark, Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, said, “This shows you that, even in these tough times, good ideas, good companies, can get funded, can bring in new ideas into the market.”

Better Place previously raised $200 million from investors including Israel Corp., Morgan Stanley, the Ofer Group, and VantagePoint Venture Partners.


Yesterday, car-charging startup Coulomb Technologies, based in Campbell, Calif., said it had raised $3.8 million in its first round of financing, potentially giving it the cash it needs to start marketing its charging systems in Europe. But is there any chance for smaller startups to compete against Better Place?

In fact, Agassi said he’s pushing for an open network in all the countries in which Better Place is working, asking the governments to require car-charging companies to use international standards for the plugs — and to require every network to be accessible for roaming from one network to the other.

“There is such a big market, that even if we have less than a maximum percent by protectionism, we will still be a profitable company,” he said.

More cash for the Denmark project is still needed, however. Agassi says Better Place and DONG will need an additional €35 million or so, but that not all of it is needed right now. And of course it needs funds for all of the other announced networks across the globe.

Images courtesy of Better Place
Top image: Anders Eldrup, CEO and President, DONG Energy and Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place.
Bottom image: Jens Moberg, Chief Executive Officer, Better Place Denmark