UK’s BP unit invests $20m in Israel’s fast battery charging startup StoreDot

Deal is first made by BP Ventures with an Israeli company, aiming to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles worldwide

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustration of the ultra-fast-charging batteries being developed by Israeli startup StoreDot for electric vehicles (Courtesy)
An illustration of the ultra-fast-charging batteries being developed by Israeli startup StoreDot for electric vehicles (Courtesy)

BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British multinational oil and gas firm BP plc, said on Tuesday it has invested $20 million in Israeli startup StoreDot, which is developing ultra-fast battery charging technology that can be used for electric vehicles.

The deal marks BP’s Ventures first investment in an Israeli company.

Founded in 2012, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot has developed a lithium ion-based battery technology, using nano-materials and organic and inorganic compounds, which enables ultra-fast charging for the mobile and industrial markets. Using this technology, StoreDot is also developing a new type of electric-car battery that make charging possible in about the time it takes to refuel a traditional car.

Batteries — both their size and the time needed to recharge them today — have been major issues for electric car manufacturers. Experts say that the electric vehicle industry is not going to take off unless solutions are found for both issues. Ultra-fast charging will a key to accelerating the adoption of EVs worldwide, BP said in an emailed statement, announcing the investment in StoreDot.

The startup hopes to start selling its first flash batteries for mobile devices as early as 2019. The commercialization of the batteries for electric vehicles will take longer, said Doron Myerdorf, the co-founder and CEO of StoreDot, in a phone interview with The Times of Israel.

An illustration of StoreDot’s ultra-fast-charging batteries that will now be developed together with BP Ventures (Courtesy)

The investment is part of BP’s quest to meet the demands of drivers at its service stations, whatever car they drive, whether fuel or electric. As the number of electric vehicles worldwide is growing rapidly, BP is working to identify the technologies and infrastructure needed to support that growth.

“BP is facing a twin challenge,” David Gilmour, vice president of Business Development at BP Ventures, said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel: meeting the ever-increasing global demand for energy and electricity, but also helping cut emissions.

As “the world moves to electric vehicles, BP is looking at how it can participate in the energy transition going forward,” he said.

BP teams scout the world for technologies, he said. “The technology we saw through StoreDot was the leading technology in the area,” Gilmour added.

David Gilmour, Vice President, Business Development, BP Ventures (Courtesy).

The investment will enable BP and StoreDot to work together to bring the technology to market, he said. “The key part is the partnership — the strategic nature of the work we are going to be doing together,” Gilmour said. “We will bring together our know-how, our operation expertise, our working with other partners in the area” regarding how to deploy this technology into vehicles and into fast charging stations. “And that is the real key focus.”

BP currently has over 70 electric charging points on its retail sites globally.

BP’s investment in StoreDot follows that of other leading investors, including Japan’s TDK Corporation in March, which also created a strategic partnership with the startup to commercialize StoreDot’s flash battery technology for mobile as early as 2019. In September, the company completed a third round of financing, with a $60 million financing round led by Daimler AG, the German multinational automotive company and including existing investors such as Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments, representing Roman Abramovich.

The company will not be requiring additional funds to develop its product, StoreDot’s CEO Myerdorf said. Within the next two years, however, the startup  will be starting to put together a battery manufacturing facility — either in China or the US, close to both battery and vehicle manufacturers — and that will require an investment of $300 million to $400 million, he said.

Doron Myerdorf, co-founder and CEO of StoreDot (Courtesy)

In January 2018, BP invested $5 million in FreeWire Technologies, a manufacturer of mobile EV rapid charging systems. The investment in StoreDot is BP’s “second stride” into this area, said Gilmour, and “there will be more to come.”

BP Ventures has operations globally and “if we find great companies in whichever part of the world, then we are willing to invest,” he said. “Israeli technology is very high so we are on the lookout for technology that can support this energy transition.”

BP Ventures identifies and invests in private, high growth and “potentially game-changing” technology companies to help bring them faster to market, the statement said. Since 2006, BP Ventures has invested over $400 million in corporate venturing and has 42 active investments in its current portfolio.

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