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EMAILED ON July 24, 2018 BY Conor Grant

Volta raises $35m to expand its ad-powered electric vehicle charging network

Volta, the startup that offers electric vehicle owners free power by turning car-charging ports into mini-billboards, just raised $35m to expand its network of ad-supported charging stations.

Volta currently operates 1k charging stations in 10 cities and hopes to double that number by the end of the year. 

It’s an electric future, but who’s going to pay for it?

According to some estimates, the number of electric vehicles on the road may reach 220m by 2030 — opening up a huge market opportunity for charging stations.

Many automakers agree the future will involve electric vehicle (EV) chargers, but they don’t agree on who will pay to build ’em — carmakers (like Tesla), utility companies, or private third parties.

But if Tesla’s chargers are free and utilities’ are discounted, how will third parties make money without charging for a charge? According to Volta, the answer is easy: billboards.

Supporting electric vehicles with ad revenue

Unlike other EV companies that sell charges for a fee, Volta offers free charges by using its charging stations as outdoor advertisements, betting that customers will seek out free power and businesses will pay for advertising and engagement.

Luckily for Volta, billboards are very “in” this year. Outdoor advertising is the only type of offline advertising that is currently growing, meaning advertisers are willing to shell out money for outdoor ads.

Meanwhile, competing EV-charging companies — like Blink, which is considerably larger than Volta with 4k+ stations — ask their customers to pay for their power.

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