Daimler AG’s truck division is investing in Israeli battery-technology startup StoreDot Ltd., tapping into a supplier that seeks to enable electric vehicles to recharge as quickly as combustion-powered models can refuel.
Daimler Trucks led a $60 million funding round for StoreDot that also included Israeli and Chinese banks and existing investor Samsung Ventures, the companies said on Sept. 14, as the German manufacturer prepared to present a new electric model.
Tel Aviv-based StoreDot earlier this year introduced a battery prototype capable of reaching a full charge in five minutes for a vehicle driving distance of at least 300 miles.
“Fast charging is an important topic, especially for fleet owners of all Daimler Trucks brands,” and the German and Israeli companies will cooperate in improving the technology, Martin Daum, the head of commercial-vehicle operations at the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, said.
Development of electric trucks to meet tightening emissions rules has been hampered by high battery costs as well as the need to recharge the models frequently because of the power drain from carrying heavy loads. Daimler, the world’s biggest maker of commercial vehicles, is also unveiling the full production version of its 6-ton Fuso eCanter light truck on Thursday in New York after about a year of making a limited edition.
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz truck nameplate is working on a 26-ton all-electric model targeted at supermarket deliveries, with Volkswagen AG’s competing MAN division developing a similar vehicle. U.S. startup Nikola Motor Co. is scheduled to unveil a prototype in December.
StoreDot will use part of the proceeds from the funding round to focus on developing batteries that prioritize time to charge rather than mileage gained.
“You can solve the problem of range anxiety with the psychology of five-minute charging,” StoreDot co-founder and CEO Doron Myersdorf said in an interview. “If a driver knows somewhere in town he can get charged in five minutes, the experience is like fueling, only without the fumes, and the driver can continue doing what he did over the last three to four decades.”
By Gwen Ackerman and Elisabeth Behrmann
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017