Ernestine Fu was interviewed by Business Insider on what venture capitalists consider to be the most promising private companies in the electric vehicle industry. She mentioned ChargePoint, as well as Alsop Louie Partners’ investment in Ion Storage Systems.
Electric vehicles have not made much of a dent in the auto market yet, but a combination of tightening regulations, falling battery prices, and increased interest from consumers and fleet operators could help them take off in the coming decades. A new wave of startups is hoping the transition away from gas-powered vehicles will create opportunities in an automotive industry that’s typically been hostile to new entrants.
Business Insider asked eight venture capitalists to pick the two EV startups they believe have the most promise, with the caveat that only one could be a company their firm has invested in. Their selections, whose areas of focus run the gamut from consumer vehicles and vans to charging stations and 3-D printing, suggest a large-scale transformation is coming for the auto industry.
These are 11 startups that could lead the charge.
Picked by: New Enterprise Associates partner Aaron Jacobson (not an investor), Fontinalis Partners principal Dan Ratliff (not an investor), Autotech Ventures partner Jeff Peters (not an investor), Fraser McCombs Capital managing partner Mark Norman (not an investor)
Total funding raised: $6 billion
What the company does: Rivian is developing an electric pickup truck and SUV that will go on sale next year. The company also has an order from Amazon for 100,000 electric delivery trucks, and Ford will use its EV platform on a future vehicle.
Why it was chosen: Rivian was chosen by four of the eight VCs Business Insider spoke to, more than any other company. The VCs praised Rivian for landing Amazon as an investor and customer, building large financial reserves (no other private EV manufacturer has raised more money), targeting the lucrative pickup truck and SUV markets, and designing vehicles with impressive styling.
“I think that they will make a big impact in the years to come,” Peters said.
Picked by: Alsop Louie Partners partner Ernestine Fu (not an investor), Trucks Venture Capital partner Reilly Brennan (not an investor)
Total funding raised: $730.4 million
What the company does: ChargePoint provides hardware, software, and support services for EV charging stations.
Why it was chosen: The availability of charging stations will play a major role in the pace of EV adoption, and ChargePoint is one of the leading players in the charging industry, Fu and Brennan said.
“ChargePoint is a really important company that not a lot of people talk about enough,” Brennan said.
Picked by: Autotech Ventures partner Jeff Peters (investor)
Total funding raised: $176 million
What the company does: Volta operates EV charging stations that are free to use, and makes money by selling digital ad space on each charging stall.
Why it was chosen: Peters thinks Volta has a better business model than other charging companies. Since building a charging station and providing electricity is relatively inexpensive, competition drives down profits for companies that make money per charge, Peters said. Volta is already profitable, Peters said, and since its stalls are located in areas, like grocery stores and shopping malls, that draw foot traffic whether or not someone is charging, its advertising revenue doesn’t rely on the pace of EV adoption.
Ion Storage Systems
Picked by: Alsop Louie Partners partner Ernestine Fu (investor)
Total funding raised: $8 million
What the company does: Ion Storage Systems is developing solid-state batteries, which have the potential to outperform the lithium-ion batteries used in today’s EVs in terms of safety, durability, and energy-density. So far, no company has developed a solid-state battery that’s ready for use in consumer vehicles.
Why it was chosen: The company has a strong leadership team, Fu said. It includes “top-notch” scientists from the University of Maryland and CEO Ricky Hanna, who was Apple’s executive director of battery operations from 2008 to 2014.
Picked by: Autotech Ventures partner Jeff Peters (not an investor)
Total funding raised: $22 million
What the company does: Chanje is developing a medium-duty electric van, the V8100, and charging systems for fleet operators.
Why it was chosen: Peters sees delivery vans as a promising market for EVs.
“I think that’s where the next foray into EVs will really come from,” he said.
Read the full article on Business Insider here.