The Silicon Valley startup is due to launch a limited commercial service in Denmark and Israel in the first quarter of 2012. Its Series C financing will allow it to expand further in Western Europe, it said on Friday, while it continues to advance deployment projects in Hawaii, Northern California, Canada, Southern China and Japan.
Better Place has been working with the carmaker Renault Nissan. Its Fluence electric sedan has a replaceable battery, which can be removed and switched at Better Place’s network of charging stations.
The company said it had now raised more than $750m in a difficult economic climate since its founding in 2007 and the new funding nearly doubled its valuation to $2.25bn.
New investors in the round included GE and UBS. Existing shareholders, including Israel Corp, HSBC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and VantagePoint Capital Partners also took part.
“With this round, our shareholder base now includes the world’s largest banks, blue chip asset managers and leading industrial holding companies,” said Idan Ofer, Better Place chairman, in a statement.
Shai Agassi, founder and chief executive, said: “We are entering the next phase of growth for our company where we prove that our solution works, that it’s in demand, and that it scales, as we begin to push into new markets and attract new investors and new partners.”
Better Place’s critics question the viability of a network of battery-switching stations – the company will charge a monthly fee for its service – beyond small areas or countries like Israel and Denmark.
Apart from Renault, carmakers also seem unconvinced, with no other major player supporting swappable batteries.
Better Place said in its statement that an Australian network would follow in the second quarter of 2012, starting in Canberra. In Israel, more than 400 corporations, representing a potential 80,000 employee cars, had signed letters of intent to begin switching their fleets to Better Place as the service became available.
Interest and demand for its service and the Fluence cars continued to be very strong across all initial markets, the company said, while it expected to have the largest electric car network in the world operating in Australia by the end of 2013.
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