Daimler has figured out that taking on Tesla is about more than just cars


BMW i3

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

A ChargePoint charger.

On Thursday, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler announced that it's leading an $82-million investment in ChargePoint, a California-based company that provides comprehensive charging services for electric vehicles.


"The first close of the company's latest fundraising round is the largest in the Silicon Valley company's history," the company said in a statement, adding the "investment will support the expansion of the company's charging network into Europe, enabling the region to complete the shift to e-mobility."

The total investment, ChargePoint said, would be more than $100 million.

"The automobile industry is at an inflection point, with more vehicles coming onto the market offering highly advanced electric powertrains than any other time in the world's history," Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, said.

"The significant investment by our lead investor Daimler and others not only underscores a collective commitment to e-mobility around the world, but will lay the groundwork for Europe's most comprehensive charging network."


As automakers develop new vehicles to challenge the major player in the EV space, Tesla, they're discovering that electric cars are part of an overall mobility ecosystem.

At a basic level, that means prospective EV customers will focus on questions such as range and performance when considering an electric car, but they'll also want to know how easy it will be the recharge their car.

Tesla has long addressed this concern by simultaneously designing new models - first a sedan, then an SUV, and soon a relatively affordable, $35,000 mass-market vehicle - and establishing a widespread fast-charging network, called Superchargers, that enables long-distance travel. It's one of the company's biggest competitive advantages.

A Tesla Model S charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Cabazon, California, U.S. May 18, 2016.   REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/File Photo

Thomson Reuters

A Tesla Model S charges at a Tesla Supercharger station.

You really can't have one without the other, and Daimler's engagement with ChargePoint demonstrates that in some cases, it's preferable to partner with an existing charging provider than to commit the resources to building up a proprietary network.


ChargePoint said that BMW i Ventures, Linse Capital, Rho Capital Partners, and Braemar Energy Ventures had joined Daimler in the fundraising round. The company has thus far raised over a quarter of a million dollars.

ChargePoint, which was founded in 2007, argues that its the "only company that offers a charging solution for every part of an EV driver's life-at home, at work, around town and on the road." The idea is that various partners can get on the network and provide charging to EV owners without having be part of a closed system.

According to ChargePoint, there are now 33,000 "independently owned" places to rejuice an EV worldwide.