Company founded by former Tesla employees charges into US

Quasar bidirectional charger

Wallbox, a smart electric vehicle (EV) charging startup headquartered in Spain, has announced the closing of a $13 million second round of Series A investment. The company will use the funds to accelerate expansion into China and the U.S., as well research and development into “next-generation products,” Douglas Alfaro, general manager for the U.S., told FreightWaves.

Founded in 2015 by a former Tesla employee Enric Asunción, Wallbox develops and manufactures smart charging solutions for EVs and plug-in hybrids for residential and business use. Its customers include major automobile manufacturers and large electric utilities.

Smart charging refers to a system in which EVs, charging stations and charging operators share data connections. Such a system allows customers to regulate, often via app, when a car is being charged to take advantage of variable energy loads and lower pricing during different times of day.

In addition to technology innovation, what distinguishes Wallbox is its “design-forward focus,” said Alfaro, also a former Tesla manager, who oversaw implementation of the company’s supercharger network in Europe, as well as the Western U.S. and Canada. At Wallbox he aims to help change consumers’ perceptions of chargers as appliances “to consumer devices where design is part of the experience.”

Expanding its footprint beyond its core European markets, Wallbox in 2019 launched a joint venture in China, exclusively for the sale of Wallbox products in the Chinese market. Also in 2019 the company made its first forays into the U.S. when it opened Silicon Valley office to distribute its chargers to the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Alfaro said.

In January, Wallbox offered a glimpse of its next-generation products during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it debuted the Quasar “bi-directional” charger.

The new charger is capable of sending excess power from a battery to a residential electrical system, allowing homeowners to power their houses with a fully charged vehicle. It can also send energy back to the grid, just as solar panels can send energy put back into a utility network.

While some European countries, Germany in particular, are “quite advanced” in terms of selling energy generated from electric vehicles, Alfaro observed, the U.S. is not as far along, with utilities still testing the waters and figuring out how to incentivize usage. “All of that is coming together, in early stages,” he said, Wallbox hopes to “catch this wave of learning growth and these regulations as they are being formed, with entry of our products as well.”

The U.S. charging market is dominated by a few large players, Alfaro added, and Wallbox “definitely sees an opportunity to enter in a leadership position.” Competitors in the U.S. include Bosch, Siemens and JuiceBox. (Tesla charging products, are designed primarily for Tesla owners.)

Although the company so far has targeted residential and corporate campus installations, future product releases “will bring us closer to the public and larger fleets,” according Alfaro. These include charging stations set in public spaces, as well as easy fast-charging capabilities, allowing users to charge their vehicles much more rapidly, a service that is especially useful for heavy-duty vehicles with larger batteries.

Closing the second Series A round brings Wallbox’ total Series A investment to $25 million. The round was led by Seaya Ventures, a Spanish venture fund focused on technology companies, with additional investment from Endeavor Catalyst and existing investors such as Iberdrola, a Spanish multinational electric utility company.