[LONDON] Daimler AG invested in ChargePoint Inc, which operates a network of electric-car charging stations, as the Mercedes-Benz maker ramps up a push into battery-powered vehicles.
Daimler led a group investing US$82 million in the Campbell, California-based company, with the funding aimed at boosting the number of charging points across Germany, France, the UK and Scandinavia.
As part of the deal, Daimler will appoint a director on ChargePoint's board. BMW AG's i Ventures and other existing investors also particated in the funding round, ChargePoint said.
Europe's electric-car market is "going to eclipse the US," Chief Executive Officer Pasquale Romano said in an interview in London.
"You've got much more maturity, much more availability in makes and models."
Daimler's investment comes as the German automaker plans an ambitious expansion into electric cars, which have suffered from tepid customer demand due to high costs and concerns about range.
Mercedes in September unveiled plans to invest about 10 billion euros (S$14.863 billion) in a line of battery-powered vehicles under the EQ subbrand.
The push will feature at least 10 vehicles by the middle of next decade and comes as other carmakers like Volkswagen AG also ready plans for a broader suite of electric vehicles.
Last November, a consortium of automakers including Daimler, Volkswagen, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co announced plans to set up a charging network with 400 sites along Europe's highways so drivers would be better able to undertake longer journeys without the fear of running out of power.
ChargePoint, which currently operates over 7,000 charging sites across the US, aims to have its first European ports installed by this summer and gain 70 per cent market share in individual countries within the next 10 years. Businesses, households and carparks will be the company's main customers with a typical annual subscription costing around US$300 per port.
"We're going to need a lot of chargers here in Europe," Mr Romano said.
"It couldn't be a better time" to go global.