Coulomb Technologies, a car-charging startup based in Campbell, Calif., took its first step into a wider electric car market today with its establishment of a Berlin office aimed at serving the European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) markets. The European operation, called 365 Energy Group, is a newly formed venture of Estag Capital — the same Estag Capital that led Coulomb’s first round of venture capital funding just two months ago in January. Estag set up the venture to sell Coulomb’s charging stations overseas, although 365 Energy could eventually end up selling systems from other companies as well.
Calling from the road in his plug-in Prius, Richard Lowenthal, founder and CEO of Coulomb, told us that he’s already shipped prototype charging stations to 365 Energy. “We have a number of projects that we’re working on,” he said. “The primary one, though, is establishing distributors throughout the EMEA region.” Lowenthal, who told us last December that Coulomb had set its sights on Europe, expects overseas charging stations to be up and running this year — he said 365 Energy is engaged in “several” sales opportunities.
While a move overseas opens up more opportunities for Coulomb, it also means going up against the much-better funded Better Place at home and abroad. But Lowenthal said, “Their primary model is: own the batteries and to lease them to drivers — and we have no interest in that business at all.” He said Coulomb is focused on making the charging stations and the network to run them.
Coulomb inaugurated its first pilot project in San Jose in January, and a second project in San Francisco in February. And there could be a lot more on the way in the U.S. “What we expect is to sell a thousand stations this year,” said Lowenthal. “We have distribution now in 46 of the United States, and we’re doing direct-sale in the remaining four.”
But what about all of that tempting stimulus cash and government loans that are on the table in the U.S.? Lowenthal said Coulomb isn’t asking for any funds directly, but that cities are getting funding to buy just the sort of equipment that his company is selling. Also, there’s a 50-percent tax credit available for all of Coulomb’s equipment and installations in the States. “It basically means our stuff is half-off for the next two years,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Coulomb.