Local fast-charging battery developer Enevate Corp. says it’s rapidly expanding to meet the demand for electric vehicles, including a much larger pre-production facility expected to open in the middle of this year.
The company is developing extreme fast-charge and high-energy density battery technologies for electric vehicles and other markets; it aims to fully charge a car battery in about the time one would fill up a non-electric car’s tank with gas.
Enevate last year secured $81 million in Series E funding led by Fidelity Management & Research Co., bringing total investment in the Irvine firm to nearly $200 million.
Some of that money’s gone to beefing up its operations at its UCI Research Park headquarters.
“During the last eight months, we’ve increased our workforce by 50%—with more to come,” Chief Executive Robert Rango told the Business Journal on Dec. 31.
While Enevate declined to give the latest number of employees, the headcount stood at 65 as of the middle of last year.
“We’re also building a pre-production battery manufacturing line with 10 times the capacity of what we have now, in order to meet our scaling and growth needs. Mid-2022 is the anticipated move-in,” according to the CEO.
Enevate says the new, expanded pre-production facility will be in Orange County, though it’s not ready to specify the exact location or the size. The company already has a pre-production battery line.
Expanding Local Hub
Rango emphasizes that Enevate is proud to be part of the Orange County business community and sees “strategic value” in being part of the area’s expanding vehicle electrification hub.
Enevate is one of the mainstays of the Irvine hub of vehicle electrification projects including nearly $500 million-valued Romeo Power Inc. (NYSE: RMO), which is moving more than 250 employees from Los Angeles to Cypress, and which went public via reverse merger in late 2020, and recently listed Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN), which for several weeks was ranked as the most valuable publicly traded company in Orange County since its November IPO (see story, page 1).
Could Enevate follow those two firms on the road to Wall Street? Rango, a former exec at Broadcom who joined the firm in 2016, told the Business Journal in early 2021, following the Series E funding, that an IPO within two years was a possibility.
“Enevate continues to hire technical employees with industrial experience from industry leaders or a post-graduate degree in a relevant field to expedite its development roadmap and support the ever-increasing customer needs,” Rango said.
Enevate has large EV-size batteries currently under test at its automotive partners and is on track to commercialize in 2025.
“One goal we’re very excited to support is the state of California’s goal to only sell new EVs by 2035. Even though the goal may seem challenging, we believe it’s achievable,” according to Rango.
Enevate believes its patented XFC-Energy technology will be a game changer for the EV industry, providing a path to produce extreme fast-charge EV batteries at low cost and high-volume production.
Enevate is currently working with multiple electric vehicle and battery manufacturers to commercialize its technology, utilizing existing manufacturing infrastructure with minimal investment required, a core goal of its development.
“As we look to 2022, we plan to commercialize our technology for the e-motorcycle application,” the CEO said. “We are also in the midst of significant growth as our automotive manufacturing partners move closer to a 2025 commercial launch of our EV battery technology.”
The company now has 117 patents and more than 380 additional patents in process, bringing the company’s total issued and in process patent portfolio at the close of 2021 to nearly 500.
“All this growth and expansion at Enevate is happening in Orange County, and we’re proud to be part of this community,” said Enevate founder and CTO Ben Park, who in was a Business Journal Innovator of the Year Award recipient in 2016.
Enevate develops and licenses advanced battery technology for electric vehicles, with a vision of EVs charging as fast as refueling gas cars, while making them accessible and affordable to everyone, and accelerating EVs’ mass adoption.
Formed in 2005, the company calls itself one of the “early pioneers” working to make a new class of Li-ion batteries that utilizes silicon-dominant anodes.
After initially focusing on cellphone batteries and other products, in 2016 it pivoted to the EV charging business.
The company’s investors include Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi (Alliance Ventures), LG Chem, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Fidelity Management & Research Co., Mission Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Tsing Capital, Infinite Potential Technologies, Presidio Ventures – a Sumitomo Corp. company, Lenovo, CEC Capital, and Bangchak.