GE, UBS and others to invest $200 million in electric car recharge company Better Place

Article by Christian A., on November 14, 2011

Investors such as General Electric Co. and UBS have agreed to provide $200 million of financing to startup company Better Place, a Palo Alto company that operates battery-switching and charging networks for electric cars. With this investment, the company is valued at $2.25 billion. This brings the amount of financing that the company has secured to $750 million.

Its investors include VantagePoint Capital Partners and Morgan Stanley Investment Management. It had stated last Friday that the added cash will fund an expansion in Europe. Better Place said that its networks widen the range of existing electric cars.

As a result, their mass adoption becomes faster. Better Place will start to operate in Israel, Denmark and Australia in the early part of 2012. In a statement, the company said that stations have already been deployed throughout California, southern China, Japan and Canada.

CEO Shai Agassi said that the company is embarking on the next phase of growth where it will demonstrate that its solution is effective, that there is a demand for it, and that it scales as it will start to enter new markets and appeal to new investors and partners. The higher cost is one of the reasons why drivers haven’t been so eager to welcome electric and rechargeable vehicles.

Another complaint that had been raised about electric vehicles such as Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf is their limited driving range before having to recharge. The demand in the U.S. has been slowed down by having very few available models.

There’s an inadequate infrastructure to recharge the vehicles and the U.S. also has lower gasoline prices compared to other industrialized countries. Many automakers want to get on this rising trend and are also developing their own electric vehicles. For example, General Motors Co. made an announcement last month that it will soon build its first all-electric vehicle, a variant of the Chevrolet Spark mini-car. [source: Autonews]

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