Better Place Inc. plans to use debt and equity to fund a 100 million-euro ($126 million) expansion of its Dutch network of stations where electric vehicle owners can swap the company’s depleted batteries for recharged units.
Better Place, seeking to raise 10 percent to 15 percent of the money with shares, will increasingly shift to debt financing after proving its business model with networks in Denmark and Israel, founder and Chief Executive Officer Shai Agassi said. It will install as many as 40 more stations in the Netherlands.
“The first stations are high risk,” he said. “Once you see them working, you see them installed and you see consumers using them, it’s easier for you to see support for future stations.” The company has yet to raise the Netherlands funds.
Better Place has garnered about $750 million to-date from investors including General Electric Co. and HSBC Holdings Plc for the Danish and Israeli networks and announced a 40 million- euro European Investment Bank loan Aug. 28 to complete them.
It yesterday opened a battery switch station at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to serve 10 Renault Fluence Zero Emissions taxis. In Israel, 20 stations are operating and the company aims to double that this year. It expects to use about 30 million euros of the EIB loan to open 13 more stations in Denmark this year after already running five to connect Copenhagen to Aarhus.
Better Place, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Israel, has a partnership with Renault SA (RNO) to build and operate charging networks and battery stations. It’s in talks with other carmakers, Agassi said without identifying the companies.
Under Better Place’s model customers buy electric cars and pay a monthly fee to use its network including charging points and the supply of batteries. That cuts $10,000 to $15,000 from upfront cost of the car, helping to boost the competitiveness of the vehicles compared with cheaper gas-powered alternatives.
Companies including Daimler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. may make as many as 135,000 electric vehicles this year, rising to more than 500,000 in 2014, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.
Drivers using Better Place’s network in Israel averaged about 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) a month and switched batteries about twice in that period, Agassi said.
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