With $15 Million Raise, FreeWire Wants to Deliver EV Charging That Doesn’t Stress the Grid

GreenTech Media

FreeWire Technologies went to market with a rolling battery that charges cars. After a recently closed $15 million Series A, the Bay Area startup plans to tackle a bigger challenge.

Electric vehicle range gets better with each new model, but charging time remains an impediment to mass adoption. At the same time, the power flows needed for faster charging create a stress on the local distribution grid, adding cost and time to the process of charger deployment.

FreeWire’s next product will be an “infrastructure-light” charger that uses lithium-ion batteries to minimize stress on the grid, said CEO Arcady Sosinov. That vision won over BP Ventures, which led the round, joined by Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Stanley Ventures, Blue Bear Capital, Oski Clean Energy Partners and others. Macquarie Capital Venture Studio contributed a separate $1 million last week.

“We think that a bit of a tsunami is coming in the near future,” said Volvo Cars Tech Fund CEO Zaki Fasihuddin, describing the accelerating pace of electric vehicle adoption. “Particularly in the U.S., there are opportunities for charging vehicles, but we don’t think the infrastructure is fully there yet. For us, it’s all about making that experience seamless and that transition seamless from an internal combustion engine to an electric vehicle.”

Speed without the consequences

Now that electric cars can travel hundreds of miles on a single charge, reducing friction in the charging experience will be the next crucial step to achieve mass adoption, Sosinov said.

“Now what we have is a new type of problem: It’s charge anxiety,” he said. “It’s not, ‘Can I go the distance?’ It’s, ‘Can I find charging the way I find a gas station today?'”

The industry will need to deploy many more chargers to achieve the ubiquity that gasoline stations have today. These chargers will also need to deliver power faster, to avoid making drivers wait around for hours at the station.

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