28 November, 2018

Sixt invests in mobile EV charging firm

Car rental company Sixt has acquired a stake in mobile electric vehicle (EV) charging firm Chargery, as it looks to expand its knowledge and offering in the growing market.

The Berlin-based start-up runs a mobile charging service using bicycles. The charging unit is positioned on a trailer and uses renewable energy to give an EV battery full power in 4.5 hours from 3.7kW. While this is happening, the rider is also able to clean the vehicle, a move that could prove popular with fleets.

For Sixt, Chargery’s service fits in perfectly with its plans for adding EVs to its rental fleet. The company has stated that it has made a low investment in the start-up, as the service will help it to extend its range of electric vehicles for rental clients. For now, this only applies to its business based in Berlin.

‘Sixt uses Chargery to provide its customers with reliable charging infrastructure on their journeys, extending the range of electric vehicles,’ the car rental company said. The mobile charging service by bike was ‘an innovative solution to the often missing charging options’.

Chargery also counts other automotive manufacturers and mobility providers amongst its investors, including Daimler, Skoda and BMW’s car-share service DriveNow, which was co-owned by Sixt until BMW bought back shares in order to merge with Daimler’s car2go service.

The company has also seen Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles invest €50,000 as part of its ‘Innovation Challenge’, with the two companies planning a pilot together. The join project targets de-centralised charging on construction sites. Owners of VW vans could leave their electric van overnight to charge rather than returning to the depot or a charging station elsewhere.

Sixt has been an early adopter of electric mobility and runs a number of BMW i3 and i8 models in its fleet, together with other hybrid vehicles. The company also made an early deal with Tesla to run its Model S in Germany.

The car rental firm has been looking to invest in projects this year following the sale of its stake in DriveNow. Earlier in 2018, the company announced the formation of its car-share service. The decision is in line with a broader change in Sixt's corporate strategy which increasingly views the company as a holistic mobility provider, offering vehicle leases ranging from a few minutes to several years.

Chargery was founded in 2017 and is aiming to expand out of its base in Berlin, offering services across the whole of Germany, before moving into the wider European market.