Volvo Investing in California-based EV Charging Startup FreeWire Technologies
As automakers shift their focus to building electric models, there will be a growing demand for fast-charging infrastructure, as new electric car owners will need find a convenient place to charge.
Swedish automaker Volvo announced today it is investing in FreeWire Technologies, a San Francisco-based EV charging startup. The automaker purchased the stake in FreeWire through its Volvo Cars Tech Fund. The automaker did not provide further details about the amount of the investment.
The fund's CEO Zaki Fasihuddin said Volvo expected an already visible shortage of charging locations to grow in magnitude as a new wave of electric cars hits the streets in five years.
"To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank. Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company's ambitions in this area", said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund.
The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched earlier this year and aims to invest in high-potential technology start-ups around the globe. It focuses its investments on technology trends that are transforming the auto industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification and self-driving cars.
FreeWire has been a early pioneer in fast-charging technology for electric cars. The company specializes in both stationary and mobile fast charging technology.
Fast DC charging, also known as Level 3 charging, is is an appealing feature for potential buyers of electric vehicles and can charge an EV to about 80 percent in just 20 minutes. DC fast charger connect directly to the car's battery, making the EV charging process much faster than the normal charging process.
"Freewire's fast charging technology holds great promise to simplify the experience for customers of electrified Volvos," said Atif Rafiq, chief digital officer at Volvo Cars. "With this move, we aim to make the future of sustainable, electric cars more practical and convenient."
Installing traditional fixed fast-charging stations is usually requires significant electrical upgrades to support the connection between charging stations and the main electrical grid. FreeWire's charging stations remove that complication and use low-voltage power, allowing operators to simply use existing power outlets.
Other automakers, including BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen have jointly pledged to open 400 ultra-fast DC charging stations in Europe by 2020, aiming to close the gap with Tesla's Supercharger network.
Fasihuddin said Volvo's investment would allow it to play an influential role in designing products with FreeWire and to work with BP, which invested $5 million in FreeWire in January. Freewire is installing its rapid DC charging systems at BP gasoline stations across Europe this year.
Volvo Cars, which is owned by China's Geely, has one of the auto industry's most ambitious electrification strategies. Every new Volvo car launched from 2019 will be electrified, and by 2025 the company aims for fully electric cars to account for up 50 percent of its overall global sales.
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