The federal administration’s plan to transition more Americans to electric vehicles (EV) includes a five-year, $5 billion program to improve the country’s EV charging network. The program, part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed last year, aims to expand the number of available charging stations and improve the quality of those already in place. Much of the emphasis will be on rolling out more fast-charging stations, which significantly reduce the time it takes to power up EVs and is considered an essential element in making EVs more mainstream.
Among the companies that will play a major role in the transition is FreeWire Technologies, an Oakland, California, manufacturer of battery-integrated EV charging stations and power solutions. The company’s Boost Charger technology enables ultrafast EV charging at all locations, which frees consumers from the cost of using power directly from the electric grid.
FreeWire has deployed battery-integrated chargers with a wide range of customers, including Fortune 100 companies, commercial clients, vehicle fleets, retailers, and gas stations across the United States. It also has partnered with BP Pulse to deploy Boost Charger in the UK.
The company has its sights set on expanding even more rapidly after raising $125 million in financing from a lineup of investors that included BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, as well as BP Ventures, Riverstone Holdings, Octave Ventures, Gly Capital Management, Blue Bear Capital, and Daishin Private Equity.
The financing round was announced in late April. Proceeds will be used to support FreeWire’s growth plans, which include accelerating commercial deployments of its charging technology and ramping up manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand in the U.S., UK, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
“BlackRock’s investment in FreeWire Technologies underscores our confidence in the company’s innovative product suite and its ability to accelerate EV adoption while mitigating the strain on the electric grid,” Steven Karpel, Blackrock’s managing director of fundamental fixed income, said in a press release.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new financing values FreeWire at about $525 million. Since its founding eight years ago, it has raised about $225 million. After launching its commercial products, it has installed or shipped more than 300 battery-integrated chargers worldwide. FreeWire aims to have 5,000 deployed by 2025.
Among its plans in 2022 is to roll out a product called AMP Pro, an asset management platform that builds on the company’s current AMP technology. FreeWire’s AMP tools enable more control over the Boost Charger’s power requirements, including managing consumption, controlling costs, and minimizing risk by scheduling charges when electric rates are at their lowest.
Next year, FreeWire plans to launch “Charging as a Service” as part of its longer-term objective to offer a turnkey retail energy service in which it owns, manages, and optimizes a customer’s utility meter and bill.
One of FreeWire’s other goals is to help overcome what it sees as the most significant barrier to mass EV adoption: the electric grid. As FreeWire Founder and CEO Arcady Sosinov puts it, the grid “simply can’t meet the power demand” required for ultrafast charging in a way that can sustainably and cost-effectively electrify the transportation system.
“FreeWire’s fully-integrated Boost Charger breaks down this barrier by combining battery technology, power conversion technology, and software to enable utilities, retailers, fleets, and site-owners across the U.S. to scale up ultrafast EV charging quickly without requiring expensive and time-consuming utility upgrades,” Sosinov said in a press release. “In addition to lowering total operating costs, FreeWire’s integrated battery enables distributed energy services that would otherwise not have existed.”