The race for funding for ultra-fast charging startups

By 2035, the sale of new thermal vehicles will be banned in Europe. A historic decision that will accelerate the transition to the electric car. If the manufacturers’ offer continues to be enriched with new models, the charging infrastructure remains insufficient for the moment.

Electra wants to be a reflection of battery-powered vehicle owners. To that end, the start-up specializing in ultra-fast charging has just completed a €160 million in capital raising from Eurazeo, RGreen Invest, Rive Private Investment, Serena, Chopard Group, SNCF (574 Invest) and RATP Capital Innovation.

A great deal of funding for a company that was only a year and a half old and had already raised 15 million euros in seed last summer. But the industry is capex intensive and requires patient financial partners. “The investment in a station – which has an average of three terminals – is between 400,000 and 500,000 euros”, explains Aurélien de Meaux, founder of Electra. He wants to charge “in minutes, not hours”.

many actors

This implies having more powerful (and more expensive) equipment and making complex electrical connections. His idea is to deploy 8,000 charging points (22 to 300 kW of power) by 2030. An ambitious goal because, at this stage, the young shoot has only about fifty. “Fast charging is critical because it reassures electric vehicle owners,” says Vincent Cabanel, an analyst at Via-ID.

The ability to attract investors will be decisive for Electra as it competes with large energy groups (Total, Engie, RW Group), automotive players (Tesla, Ionity) and well-funded start-ups (Fastned, Allego, Power Dot, InstaVolt, etc).

“The cards will be dealt now”, explains Melissa Cohen, who invested in Electra with Eurazeo. In fact, an intense battle is being waged to merge the territory. The tricolor start-up wants to focus on urban areas and should attract terrestrial partners who are increasing public notices to comply with the mobility guidance law – they must have 5% electrified parking spaces by 2025.

Direct the agglomerations

“The goal is not to put endpoints everywhere, but to put them in the right place,” says Melissa Cohen. A location in a dense area and close to strategic roads should, in principle, guarantee a greater number of recharges and greater income. “We estimate that the return on investment for a broadcaster is between five and seven years”, puts the investor in perspective.

The contracts signed with the land partners last between ten and fifteen years, which represents major barriers to the entry of potential other players. Electra has already convinced AccorInvest, Indigo, Louvre Hotels Group and Primonial REIM France to install charging points at their locations.

digital experience

For now, charging at stations open to the public is often frustrating due to the high number of faulty terminals and a poor digital experience. Electra wants to improve the user journey by giving the customer the possibility to book their charging point with the app and to estimate the price and charging time.

The profile of Electra’s founders also played a lot with investors. “There is a combination of very complementary skills,” says Melissa Cohen. Aurélien de Meaux comes from the software world – he co-founded and sold the photo app Cheerz to Cewe – and has joined forces with Augustin Derville and Julien Belliato, who are familiar with industrial and energy issues.

While transport must undergo a revolution to decarbonise, investments are accelerating sharply in electric charging. In 2021, European startups in the sector raised more than $1 billion, according to a study by Via ID and Dealroom. A number multiplied by 11 compared to 2020!

France, a land of desires

The momentum remains strong. “In the first half of 2022, value investments increased by around 40% compared to the first half of 2021”, explains Vincent Cabanel. The Portuguese Power Dot raised 150 million euros and the new energy storage unicorn, NW Groupe, has just raised 300 million to install charging stations. The Dutch pioneer Allego, in turn, went public thanks to a SPAC. “The idea with this fundraiser is to be in the good wagon of pure players, those who are going to recharge tomorrow”, observes Aurélien de Meaux, who plans to launch Electra in Belgium and Italy, two countries with insufficient charging infrastructure. .

The start-up is also preparing to resume language with financial partners. “We want to obtain debt to complete the financing in the next six months”, explains Aurélien de Meaux.

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