Car Sharing meets Crowd Funding

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, April 2014

Cleantech Investor recently met with two car-sharing businesses, both of which have received investment through crowd funding. Both were founded in 2011 with quite different business models. UK based E-Car Club provides hourly car rental of electric cars. Its fleet of vehicles includes small hatchbacks (such as the Renault Zoe), large hatchbacks (typically the Nissan LEAF) and light commercial vehicles (for example the Renault Kangoo Maxi).

According to Chris Morris, development director, E-Car has relationships with local authorities, universities and commercial businesses, all of which operate ‘back-to-base’ car rental operations. E-Car Club recently secured investment of £0.5 million from Ignite Social Enterprise, a fund backed by Centrica (the owner of British Gas). The funding round followed on from a seed-funding round via Crowdcube, the UK equity crowd funding site, last year. With the recent funding the company aims to scale up and roll out fleets of electric cars across the UK.

Carzapp, a German company, presented at our Automotive Cleantech event, sponsored by K&L Gates, on 2 April  2014. Carzapp raised EUR0.25 million in seed funding via Seedmatch, a German crowd funding site, in 2013, valuing the company at EUR2.5 million. According to Oliver Lunstedt, Co-founder and CEO, Carzapp was originally a “P2P” solution (i.e. private owners could rent out their own car through an online portal). However, the company’s business model has changed and Carzapp now aims to sell the hardware and booking portal it had developed for the P2P business to other car sharing companies and fleet managers. Carzapp’s hardware provides access to cars through a smartphone and is independent of any of the car manufacturers. The company is currently raising funds to develop the hardware and portal business.


A Rush of Cleantech Stock Market Listings

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 6 April 2014

The second quarter of 2014 has kicked off with some high profile listings of cleantech companies in both the US and the UK – and more are expected during April, potentially a good sign for the remainder of the year!

In the US, Opower (OPWR) listed on the New York Stock Exchange, raising US$116 million through an IPO led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

The shares opened at US$25, up over 30% from the US19 issue price, before drifting back during the first day of trading on Friday 4 April to close at US$21, valuing the company at US$1.091bn.


E.ON joins GE Ventures in US$70m Sungevity funding round

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, April 2014

California based Sungevity, which operates a proprietary remote solar design technology, has secured US$70 million in investment from both new and existing investors. Sungevity, which can deliver a quote for rooftop solar to a homeowner without the need for a home visit, saw sales double in the US in 2013 on the back of a combination of its own services and strategic business partnerships. The company already services nine US states and has expanded internationally into the Netherlands and Australia. It is the exclusive US partner of DIY chain Lowe for residential solar in the US.

The Sungevity funding round was led by Nashville based Jetstream Ventures and included GE Ventures, which originally invested in Sungevity in 2013 and German utility giant E.ON.


Fuel cell cars: not science fiction!

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 4 April 2014

Hyundai Fuel Cell Vehicle ouside City Hall, London (2012)A hydrogen future is becoming a reality in London and five other European cities, with the launch of the HyFive (Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles), project, the largest of its kind in Europe. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says HyFive - which involves a fleet 110 fuel cell vehicles - will demonstrate that hydrogen “is not science fiction”. A total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell cars will be deployed throughout six European cities (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart), alongside the development of hydrogen refuelling station clusters. The project, funded to the tune of €38 million (£31 million) by the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and the industrial partners, is being co-ordinated by the Mayor of London’s Office.

The FCH JU is contributing funding of €18 million with the balance of €20 million coming from the partners. The vehicles will be supplied by BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. And hydrogen fuel companies involved in the project include Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV. Hydrogen filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK. All refuelling stations share internationally agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards.


GKN acquires Williams Hybrid: flywheel tech for autos in the spotlight!

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, April 2014

GKN has acquired Williams Hybrid Power Limited from Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited, the company behind the Williams Formula One team. Williams Hybrid, originally created around technology developed by Ian Foley as Automotive Hybrid Power, was backed by Williams for motor sports applications. The technology was first used in a Porsche racing car in 2010 and has been used in the Audi Sports Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championships vehicles.

GKN, which has been working with Williams Hybrid on the validation of the technology in mainstream automotive applications including buses, will pay £8 million in cash, plus a potential additional consideration based upon future sales, for the business. Williams Hybrid is reported to have made a net loss of £1 million in 2013.

GKN, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, previously acquired another automotive cleantech company, EVO Electric, which was had been spun out of Imperial College London and was backed by Imperial Innovations. EVO developed axial flux technology, offering benefits in torque and power density.

GKN's purchase of Williams Hybrid marks the second acquisition of a flywheel-based automotive clean technology in the UK in recent months. Torotrak PLC (TRK), also listed in London, acquired Silverstone based Flybrid Automotive in December 2013 for a consideration of up to £23 million (for the 80% of shares it didn’t already own) and a minimum of £15 million (valuing Flybrid at between £18.75 million and £28.75 million). Flybrid's M-KERS hybrid technology, which has been successfully operated in the motorsport industry, is being developed for passenger car markets and is expected to enter into production in 2015, initially to supply the UK bus market. Prototype versions of M-KERS, a more power dense equivalent of a battery driven electric hybrid system, have been tested with Volvo and Jaguar and the product is expected to be introduced into the passenger car market from 2017. It is also being tested in a Wrightbus Streetlite bus operated by Arriva.

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