Volta Completes $125M Raise To Expand U.S. DOOH Network Based On EV Charging Units

January 19, 2021 by Dave Haynes

A digital OOH media network based on electric vehicle charging stations just got a huge vote of confidence from investors – with an oversubscribed $125 million funding round for Volta that was guided by Goldman Sachs.

The company puts totem-style units, equipped with the charging apparatus and 55-inch displays, in parking areas that see a lot of vehicle traffic, like grocery stores. The network, to date, is in 23 U.S. states and some 200 metro areas.

“The electrification of mobility is one of the largest infrastructural shifts of our generation and Volta’s charging network is ready to anchor the accompanying consumer behavior that will change along with it,” says Scott Mercer, Founder and CEO of Volta, in PR about the raise. “As we transition out of the carbon economy, we will see a fundamental transformation of our existing fueling infrastructure. Businesses anticipating this shift can take advantage of a revenue transfer from gas stations to retail locations in the community where consumers go, live, shop and play.”

Unique to the EV market, Volta’s business model centers around evolving spending habits caused by the move to electric vehicles by building charging infrastructure that reinforces the desired behavior at each location.

Volta’s charging stations feature eye-catching 55-inch digital displays, doubling as a sophisticated media platform providing brands a way to reach millions of shoppers seconds before they enter the store to make a purchase. These sponsor-supported charging stations provide free energy to customers who are able to plug in their vehicles where and when they shop. Volta’s business partners who install charging stations experience immediate returns; they report an increase in spend, dwell time and engagement on site. 

The Series D fundraising brings the company’s total equity financing to over $200 million. The capital raise, says Volta, will further accelerate Volta’s efforts to unlock the value of their contract portfolio, and increase their investment in product, engineering and network infrastructure. It will also allow Volta to begin its international expansion.

“As consumer interest in environmental initiatives takes hold across the economy, Volta is positioning itself as a top-of-mind brand in the electric vehicle space,” says Chris Wendel, Co-Founder and President of Volta. “Volta is accelerating the future of infrastructure as a catalyst with its unique business model that brings a differentiated value proposition to our real estate and retail partners. By bringing charging stations to essential businesses, our end user will increase their dwell time, engagement and spend.”

Volta’s unique approach is already gaining significant acceptance and penetration in the market. The company has signed agreements with well-known property owners including Albertsons Companies, Giant Food, Regency Centers, Wegmans and Topgolf.

In addition, Volta’s highly desirable media network has attracted some of the world’s best brands including GM, Hulu, Nestlé, Polestar, Porsche and Unilever.

$125M is a big raise, and a big vote of confidence in the notion of parking areas being a valuable and validated digital place-based media environment. These units serve the purpose of one-to-one recharging for EV owners, but the “audience” is really everyone in the general area. The media model would not work if the premise was solely focused on Tesla and Nissan Leaf owners.

Volta does not charge for using its stations, which means revenue and company prospects hang somewhat or entirely on media revenues, which would make me nervous as hell if I was an investor. Then again, most DOOH networks outside of health care make me jumpy.

These units are similar in look, feel and approach as digital OOH street furniture networks you see in big cities and in shopping mall concourses, and a close cousin would be the smart city-ish networks like LinkNYC. That network isn’t exactly killing it on revenues, and that’s in NEW York, not a parking lot in front of the JC Penney in Littleton, Colorado.

Whatever the ad revenue challenges, the big dollar raise is likely very happy news for my friends at Peerless-AV, which builds the charging units.

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