Paris-based EV-charging startup Electra has raised a €304m Series B to expand its network of charging stations across Europe.
It marks Europe’s second-biggest fundraising round in the sector after German EV-charging startup Ionity raised a €700m round in 2021 led by BlackRock.
Electra’s Series B, which is all equity, was led by Dutch pension fund PGGM through its dedicated infrastructure investment vehicle.
Public sector bank Bpifrance also joined the company’s cap table and returning investors included French investors Eurazeo Infrastructure, Serena and Rive Private Investment, as well as 574 Invest, the investment branch of national railway company SNCF.
It brings total funding for the startup to €600m since it launched just over three years ago.
Although the company declined to share its latest valuation, the new funding has brought Electra close to unicorn status, according to CEO Aurélien de Meaux.
Tech consultancy Avolta recently included Electra in a list of 20 companies that are most likely to become France’s next unicorns.
Electra is building a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles — a market that is expected to explode as consumers make the switch to greener cars.
The EU has banned the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 and aims to have 30m electric cars on the continent by 2030.
“There is no more doubt that there are going to be millions more electric cars,” says de Meaux. “Our business model is very simple — we capture revenue from every recharge.”
A software-first DNA
Electra builds both the physical stations where drivers can plug in their cars and the software that supports the charging process — from managing the app that users download to book their spot, to connecting to the car’s operating system and payment platforms.
The company also handles the physical deployment of stations, largely thanks to partnerships with private companies like supermarkets, restaurants, hotels or parking lots. Electra has built 1,000 charging points so far in eight countries — France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Spain.
Deploying a charging station — which can include several charging points — costs between €400-500k. Electra is contracted for up to 25 years, during which the company takes revenue from every charging operation. As a result, it expects to start turning a profit in 2026.
Working with infrastructure funds
Deploying a continent-wide physical infrastructure is capex-intensive, which is why Electra turned to deep-pocketed investors, particularly infrastructure-focused funds.
“PGGM, who led this round, is — like most infrastructure funds — a long-term fund that manages €235bn,” says de Meaux. “With the perspective of continuing to expand in Europe, it was important for us to have a partner with deep pockets.”
Rather than opening new markets, the company is planning to consolidate its position in the countries where it is already operating by deploying 2,200 stations — which represent 15k charging points — throughout Europe by 2030. This means multiplying its current infrastructure by 15.
In deploying an EV-charging network, the company is competing against huge multinationals in the energy sector — but de Meaux remains confident. “In front of us, there are companies like TotalEnergies that have lots of money,” he says. “But in this sector, you need entrepreneurial teams that can be more innovative and develop faster and stronger. That’s what we’re doing.”