ChargeLab has secured strategic partnerships with a couple of players in the electric vehicle space to expand its market reach south of the border. The commercial partnerships come with $15 million USD in Series A extension financing.
The funding comes from Eaton, an industrial electrical products company, and Silver Comet, an electric vehicle (EV) charging network operator. The strategic partnerships are the reason ChargeLab took on the additional financing, as the Toronto-based startup looks to expand its management software for EV charging in the United States (US).
The number of EV chargers in Canada has grown 30 percent since the end of 2021.
The extension comes close to one year after ChargeLab first raised its Series A round, and brings the startup’s total round size to $30 million (all numbers USD). The latest financing includes $10 million in equity and $5 million in venture debt from Silicon Valley Bank (secured before the collapse and currently accessible as needed, according to the startup).
ChargeLab’s software platform manages EV charging equipment, with the key element being that it can be used across a variety of charging networks.
Bringing on investors that also work with ChargeLab commercially is an ongoing strategy for the company. As part of its original Series A raise, ChargeLab received funding and subsequently partnered with ABB E-Mobility, the electric-charging business of Zurich-based multinational tech company ABB, which has fast chargers for EVs in more than 80 countries.
ChargeLab co-founder and CEO Zak Lefevre said in an interview with BetaKit that partnering with companies that are already in the United States has given the startup “the access to the market that we needed.”
“Ultimately, the driver of this extension … really was that strategic and commercial partnership,” he added. “We were not out in the market looking for capital.”
Lefevre explained that ChargeLab’s original plan was to raise its next round around 2024, but Eaton and Silver Comet reached out to ChargeLab wanting to work together and invest.
Commercial partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Eaton and Silver Comet were also compelling given ChargeLab’s mission to make hardware-agnostic software and be “the Android of EV charging,” according to Lefevre.
Eaton is a 112-year-old, NYSE-listed global provider of industrial electrical products. Of late, that has meant betting on the EV market. Through the commercial partnership, Eaton is bundling ChargeLab’s platform with its line of EV chargers in North America.
Silver Comet Energy is a newer company that was created last year to work with convenience store operators to deploy and operate fast EV charging stations. Lefevre explained that Silver Comet plans to build a network of fast charging stations at convenience stores in the United States using ChargeLab’s technology.
The EV charging station market is an electrified one (pun intended). Reports show that it is expected to reach more than $111 million USD globally within the next five years; three times the current market size. The US and China are the largest markets for EV chargers.
Canada has also seen its fair share of interest and growth. The number of EV chargers in Canada has grown 30 percent since the end of 2021.
The growing space and its future potential have attracted a wide range of players from startups like ChargeLab to major brands like Walmart, as well as traditional oil and gas companies like Shell. And it’s clear that governments like the US are gearing up for EVs to be a big part of the vehicle market in the near future.
Even with such interest in the sector, there are still challenges, from concern about the speed of charging to the reliability and capacity of infrastructure.
ChargeLab is in a competitive market. Some of the largest charging network companies are Shell, which bought an EV software company in recent years; America’s ChargePoint, which provides both software and hardware for EV charging; and ABB, which ChargeLab works with; among others. Canadian players include Swtch and Flo (formerly AddÉnergie).
Even as giant, established companies like Shell develop (or buy) their own charging software, ChargeLab still sees a sizable market opportunity for itself.
“That’s really where the open Android approach comes in,” said Lefevre. “Because they’ve obviously acquired software solutions of their own, and now those software solutions are very committed to building the specific features for Shell … but if that’s software that used to compete directly with us that is now being used specifically for gas stations, and they’re going deep on those kinds of features, that leaves lots of market open for us in the other places [like] the condo buildings, the office buildings.”
Beyond its strategic investors, ChargeLab’s customers include Colliers International, Ford, Mobil, and Indigo Group, which calls itself the world leader in parking. ChargeLab has also partnered with leading EV charging manufacturers like Phihong, United Chargers, Siemens, and Tritium to supply its software to their stations and networks.
Feature image courtesy ChargeLab.