UK firm Charge gets investment boost from venture capitalist to develop range-extended electric powertrain technology

A new UK company that is designing range-extended electric powertrains for commercial vehicles has received investment from venture capitalist firm Kinetik.

Charge, based in Enstone, Oxfordshire, is developing a range-extended electric powertrain suitable for trucks and buses from 2.5 tonnes up to 26 tonnes, which is expected to cost operators the same price as a conventional carbon fuel option (excluding the battery).

The first prototype – a truck application – is shortly to begin track testing.

Charge is using a range-extender to increase the driving range of the vehicle – which it said is the weakest link of all electric vehicles (EV) – in a move to significantly reduce total cost of ownership and boost uptake of EVs in the freight sector.

Uptake of electric vehicles in the freight sector has been slow due to limited availability of viable and cost-effective technology, according to Charge. It added that trials with hybrids have been disappointing from a cost/benefit perspective and pure electric can be a challenge due to the varying nature of many commercial vehicles’ duty cycles.

Charge is seeking to change this by offering technology it said is both revolutionary and low cost. It intends to make the economic case for a low-emission commercial vehicle capable of accommodating a wide range of duties.

Glenn Saint, technical director of Charge Automotive, said: “I am excited to be working with the Kinetik team as they help us to transform the automotive industry by using revolutionary technologies to make cost effective, energy efficient commercial vehicles. Kinetik’s forward-looking approach is helping to bring our ideas to reality.”

Denis Sverdlov, founder of US$500m investment firm Kinetik, said: “Our vision is to find the world’s brightest minds who share our energy, commitment and drive and help them create game-changing products and technologies to improve the way we live.”

Kinetik’s investments are made at seed and start-up phases, and the company’s initial sectors of focus include healthcare, alternative energy, automotive and the Internet of Things.