Israeli Electric Car Company Secures Groundbreaking Funding
An Israeli funded and U.S.-based cleantech company secured $350 million in funding on Monday from several major financial companies.
Widely regarded as the world's leading electric vehicle services provider, Better Place secured the unprecedented funding to expand its market beyond its present operations in Israel, Denmark and Australia.
"Today marks the end of an extensive process," said Shai Agassi, Better Place Founder and Chief Executive Officer, "with the outcome being a decision by one of the world's largest, most conservative banks, HSBC, to take the validating step of investing in a private company intent on bringing innovation to the trillion-dollar automotive and energy industries."
Other investors include the Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments and Maniv Energy Capital.
"Maniv is proud to have been an investor in both the first and the current round of Better Place financing," Michael J. Granoff, Founder of Maniv Energy Capital, told The Media Line. "We believe the greatest economic opportunity before us is the transition from oil-burning cars to electrics - the cost trend lines make that an inevitability."
"No company in the world is preparing more effectively to gain from, as well as accelerate, that transition," Granoff said. "Today's announcement is yet another validation of that opinion by three top tier global financial companies."
With the latest round of investment the company has so far raised $700 million.
"We just loved the concept of Better Place and we saw a huge potential in the company,"
Barak Cohen, an analyst with Israel Corp. told The Media Line. "It was the first company that acknowledged that you need to have a proper infrastructure to enable electric vehicles."
"We are happy with the company's progress over the last couple of years," Cohen said. "We have firm reassurance right now from world known investors that the evaluation of the company is much higher than the evaluation [of the company's value] when we invested in the company."
The basic idea of Better Place is to enable widespread use of electrical vehicles and a more efficient use of energy by integrating infrastructure, automakers, battery suppliers and energy companies. The role of Better Place is to be the integrator between the various components in the network rather than a designer or developer of parts.
The new deal comes almost two years after Better Place signed a partnership deal with French automaker Renault-Nissan to produce 100,000 electrical cars.
"Better place is not a car company," Hillel Posek, Motor Journalist with the Israeli Daily Yedioth Ahronoth, told The Media Line, "Its success depends on the length of the battery, the car and so on."
The first full scale launch of Renault cars with switchable electric batteries is planned to hit the roads in Israel and Denmark in 2011, according to the company.
Better Place was last year listed as one of the 100 most promising clean technology companies on the planet by the CleanTech Group, which is widely regarded as one of the leading renewable energy consulting firms in the world. It is credited with originating the term cleantech and owns it as a registered trademark.
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