An all-electric vehicle world just got one step closer to reality. According to the New York Times, the frontrunner of global electric vehicle (EV) networks, Better Place, has landed some gigantic new financial fish.
Better Place is set to receive an additional $350 million in new venture capital on Feb. 1. Israeli-American software executive, Shai Agassi (not to be confused with non-Israeli American tennis player Andre Agassi), founded Better Place in 2007 to, well, make the world a better place. In that short a time, Agassi and Better Place have pulled in a reported total of $700 million in capital investment.
The new wave of financing for Better Place that arrives on Feb. 1 is from financial giant HSBC Group Holdings ($125 million) and Morgan Stanley Investment Management ($225 million).
The New York Times article says, “The new funds, Mr. Agassi said, will be devoted to research and development, completing the company’s infrastructure in Israel and Denmark, and eventually broadening its reach to include the United States, Australia and other countries in Europe.”
Better Place’s early success has led one cartoonist to deem Agassi “the Green Prince”. Agassi predicts that this new investment will give Better Place the means to help electric vehicles turn the corner, in much the same way Netscape helped Internet companies in the mid-90s.
“We’ve demonstrated that our network is deployable,” Agassi said. “We’re ready for a big breakthrough, and there is not one country that doesn’t need to get off oil.”
HSBC executives are speaking the same language. “It could be a game-changer in its sector the way Google and Microsoft were in theirs,” said Anthony Bernbaum, global head of special opportunities for HSBC.
Better Place apparently has no problem drawing an endless stream of finances to its cause, but there is one last hurdle that must be overcome — the world’s 100-year love affair with gas-powered cars. A relationship that long won’t die easily. All of Better Place’s supporters agree that it will be difficult, but after a year of research and consultation, HSBC executives said they were persuaded that the goal was feasible.
Bernabaum of HSBC said Better Place was “one of the largest, and the most important and significant financial equity investments we’ve made.”