ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has invested $10 million in San Francisco-based ECOtality, a clean electric transportation and storage technologies company, to enter North America’s electric vehicle (EV) charging market and provide ECOtality with a strong global ally in power delivery systems.
ECOtality will use the investment to foster its expansion and finance initial requirements of the EV Project, a program to develop electric vehicle infrastructures in 16 major US cities funded by a $115 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE). The project involves installation of more than 15,000 chargers to support the deployment of 8,300 electric vehicles.
In addition, the companies have signed an agreement establishing ABB as the preferred supplier for ECOtality’s power electronics and component parts in North America. The companies will work together to develop charging technologies for electric vehicles that incorporate the advanced consumer interface and billing functionalities of ECOtality’s Blink EV charging stations. Through its smart grids industry segment initiative, ABB will contribute its expertise from several projects in Europe involving integration of EV charging solutions.
“The partnership brings together ABB’s experience in smart grids, renewable energy and reliable, efficient power networks, with ECOtality’s leadership in North America’s growing market for electric vehicle infrastructure,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB Marketing and Customer Solutions. “It is an ideal combination of skills that will provide the solutions customers are seeking to enable sustainable mobility while maintaining grid reliability.”
ECOtality, Inc. has a full range of systems for charging electric vehicles parked at the home or office, or during short stops to “top off” while on longer journeys. ECOtality expects to have the largest installed base of charging stations in the United States in two years through the DOE-funded EV Project, and plans to work with utilities and municipalities to create plug-in ready regions through its proprietary EV Micro-Climate process. The company currently employs about 100 people.
“Together with ABB, we can further expand the possibilities of electric transportation and make mass-consumer adoption a reality,” said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. “Our North American manufacturing agreement with ABB will allow us to rapidly increase production and expand our business.”
The investment was made through ABB Technology Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm. Related strategic steps during the past 12 months included an investment in Trilliant’s end-to-end system for smart grid communications, and a research and development project with General Motors to investigate energy storage uses for electric vehicle batteries once their useful life in the vehicle is over.