For a while, Europe’s electric vehicle charging market was stuck in a ‘chicken-and-egg’ situation. Consumers wanted to see more charging ports before they bought a vehicle, but investors wanted to see more demand for vehicles before they backed infrastructure.
That seems to be changing. EV vehicle sales are set to hit 1m in Western Europe this year and it’s estimated that revenues from charging could hit €36bn by 2030 — a sevenfold increase on 2021’s rate.
Today two charging companies announced fundraising. French EV charging startup Electra has raised €15m from Serena, Eurazeo and Frst. It's France’s biggest ever seed round.
British startup ev.energy, which provides charging software to help energy providers supply energy to EV drivers at home, also announced it’s raised a $8.8m Series A, led by Energy Impact Partners and supported by Future Energy Ventures.
In France, where Electra is based, Aurélien de Meaux, the company’s cofounder and CEO, says the country has a decent number of stations now, but they’re not working well.
“25% of charging sessions fail and the user experience is bad,” he says, with charging times too long and card payments sometimes not available.
Electra will pair with landlords of shopping centres, supermarkets and hotels to set up charging stations around France. The company finances 100% of the stations’ costs and says landlords are attracted to the scheme because the stations could attract customers into existing businesses.
The funding raised by Electra and ev.energy follow a string of investments into other European EV startups this year, as increasing vehicle sales spark investor interest.
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Wallbox, a Spanish EV charging company, raised €33m in February and announced plans to go public via a SPAC earlier this month. Swedish startup Elonroad, which is developing a road system that would charge EVs as they drive, raised $2.6m in May from, amongst others, the European Union.
The EU’s been keen to increase the number of charging stations across the continent, after setting a target of 1m stations by 2025.
The number of stations in the 27 EU nations and the UK increased from 34,000 in 2014 to 250,000 at the end of last year — a growth rate that, at present, won’t hit the Commission’s target.
As well as startups, the big players are also cottoning onto the potential in Europe. Tesla recently confirmed plans to open its Supercharger network to all electric vehicles in Norway — the country with the highest proportion of EVs in Europe. Germany’s also said to be in talks with Tesla to do the same.
Tesla has over 2,700 charging stations around the world but, until now, they’d only been available for Tesla drivers.
Aurélien de Meaux, founder of Electra, says the historical utility players, like Total or Izivia, remain the biggest competition for startups. Total said recently that it aims to have 150,000 charging points in Europe by 2025.
De Meaux is confident that the financial concerns that have characterised the market so far will soon be gone.
“Financial concerns are bound to disappear, as electric car prices are expected to fall by 50% in the next 5 to 6 years. Clean mobility will no longer be a luxury.”