In another major step forward for Israel’s auto-tech industry, the Germany automaker Daimler on Thursday led a group of investors putting $60 million into the startup StoreDot and signed a strategic-cooperation accord with it.
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The strategic partner with the truck division of Daimler aims to accelerate the adoption of StoreDot’s FlashBattery technology for the electric vehicles market. The startup’s fast-charging battery technology, which uses nanomaterials and proprietary organic compounds, can charge an electric vehicle in five minutes.
“Electrification of trucks is of top priority at Daimler,” said Martin Daum, a member of Daimler’s board of management with responsibility for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses. Daimler began production on its own electric light-duty truck called the Fuso eCanter earlier this year.
StoreNext developed its technology for smartphones and other small appliances. But in the past year it has demonstrated that the same technology could also be used for cars and six months ago it demonstrated a proof of concept at a conference in Berlin, said StoreNext’s CEO and cofounder, Doron Myersdorf.
That compares with about 40 minutes to recharge the battery to about 60%, he added.
“All the auto makers visited us. We opened up the lab to all of them but Daimler was the most interesting in terms of pushing it to the market. They worked very quickly – within nine months they had completed their examination and a strategic agreement,” Myersdorf told TheMarker.
The fundraising round, which values StoreDot at close to $500 million, was also backed by China’s Lucion Venture Capital and financial institutions from Israel as well as existing investors such as Samsung Ventures, the VC arms of the Korean electronics giant, and Norma Investments, a vehicle for Russian businessman Roman Abramovich.
The deal with Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, comes on a wave of interest by the global auto industry in a host of technologies being developed in Israel. Daimler itself set up an Israeli research and development center a year ago and two weeks ago invested $200 million and formed a joint venture with the U.S.-Israel ride-sharing startup Via.
StoreDot was formed in 2012 by Myersdorf and Prof. Simon Litsyn, who is now chief strategy officer. The company employs 75 people, 30 of whom have doctorates. The latest funding brings StoreDot’s total raised to $108 million
Myersdorf admitted StoreDot’s technology faces obstacle to commercialization but said he expected the first cars using the batteries within a few years.
“The question is how much time it will take. We face the challenge of adapting the technology to mass production, We’re moving from the challenge of development to the challenge to production and marketing,” he said. “We’re talking about millions of cars that by 2020 will be using the technology. The battery will account for a third of the car’s price, so the revenue can be huge.”