As increasing numbers of electric vehicles are expected to hit the streets, thanks to new models from big automakers soon hitting the market, charging networks like Volta Charging are raising new cash to meet the expected demand.
The company today said it raised $35 million from investors led by the Invenergy Future Fund, the technology investment arm of renewable energy project developer Invenergy and Activate Capital (a relatively new $200 million investment fund raised by clean tech veterans including Raj Atluru, Michael DeRosa, Anup Jacob, and David Lincoln).
The San Francisco-based company combines outdoor digital advertising with charging stations to give electric vehicle owners free power. It has already rolled out a network of 1,000 charging stations that are open for sponsorship, and hopes to reach 2,000 by the end of 2018, according to a statement from the company.
There’s probably nothing more 2018 than ad-supported electric vehicle charging, but Volta may be sitting at the intersection of a few trends that could give the company a charge. Outdoor advertising is one of the only growth markets in the ad-business that’s not online, and it’s one that investors are beginning to sink dollars into (I wrote about AdQuick, which is another startup looking to take advantage of the newfound interest).
Meanwhile, a study published jointly by the International Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the Electric Vehicles Initiative predicts that the number of electric light-duty vehicles on the road will reach at least 125 million by 2030. More optimistic figures could boost those numbers to 220 million, the study says.
That’s a lot of cars that are going to need a lot of charging stations.
Volta rolled out its initial charging stations in Hawaii, but now has expanded its network to include the top 10 media markets in the U.S. (valuable real estate for any would-be advertiser). So far the company’s sponsored charging stations have given away 22 million miles worth of juice, or the equivalent of 9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Volta distills the surrounding complexity and accelerates the market by executing on consumer preferences that won’t change: free charging in premier convenient locations,” said John Tough, a partner at the Invenergy Future Fund in a statement.
That sentiment was echoed across the company’s investor base, which has grown with the $35 million Series C round to include a slew of new investors including: GE Ventures, Orsted Venture, Nautilus Venture Partners, and Idinvest all join as new investors.
“Volta brings us an opportunity to elegantly advance the intersection of two of our most important sectors – energy and transportation,” said Anup Jacob, Managing Director, Activate Capital. “By leveraging sponsorship to underwrite free charging and infrastructure, Volta has created a unique model to accelerate the future of mobility.”
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