Finding a spot to juice up an electric vehicle is rarely a walk in the park. In the U.S. as of 2018, there were approximately only 57,000 outlets and 20,000 charging stations across the country, the bulk of which were concentrated in California. And according to a recent study published by the International Council on Clean Transportation, most locales will need to build 20% more stations to accommodate the 125 million electric cars expected to hit the road by 2030.
It’s demand San Francisco-based startup Volta Charging hopes to meet with advertising — that is, sponsored spots on car chargers that subsidize the electricity. On the heels of the closure of a $35 million series C funding round in July 2018, the company says it has secured the investment it needs to scale its model nationwide.
Volta this morning announced that it obtained a $44 million credit facility from Energy Impact Partners, the latter of which partnered with business development company CION Investment Corporation through its credit platform — Energy Impact Credit Fund (EICF) — for the loan. The capital infusion comes after a year during which Volta’s annual revenue grew threefold and its headcount more than doubled, according to Volta president Chris Wendel.
“We are delighted to partner with EICF and CION to further develop Volta’s industry-leading charging network,” said Wendel, who cofounded Volta with Scott Mercer and Michael Menendez in 2010. “Our years of experience in building a charging infrastructure that is economically viable, free to drivers, and optimized for the rapidly growing electric vehicle community, pairs well with EICF passion for advancing clean transportation.”
Volta designs and covers the cost of installing and maintaining turnkey solutions for retail partners such as Whole Foods, Macy’s, and Saks, which in turn make the charging stations available to their customers. (Volta pays for electricity usage.) The company claims that its platform, which consists of more than 700 stations across 10 states (up from two states at launch), has delivered over 40 million free electric miles to date. That might pale in comparison to ChargePoint’s, Tesla’s, Blink’s, and SemaCharge’s networks, which combined made up 60% of the market as of October 2018, but EICF managing partner Harry Giovani notes that few guarantee free vehicle-agnostic charging at all of their locations.
“We are very excited to be partnering up with such a talented management team and a company with a unique business model in combining clean energy technology and advertising,” said Giovani. “Volta creates opportunities for brands to connect with their audience, while reducing ‘range anxiety’ and fitting an unmet need for EV drivers — free of charge. We are also very excited to be partnering up with our co-lead arranger, CION Investment Corporation, to provide a one-stop capital solution to the company.”
Prior to the credit facility, Volta had raised $62.3 million from Energize, Activate Capital, GE Ventures, Orsted Venture, Nautilus Venture Partners, Idinvest, Virgo Investment Group, Autotech Ventures, and others.