Evida Power Inc., a US company that operates from Israel to develop lithium-iron-phosphate battery packs for electric vehicles, has signed a $250 million contract with French-German electric vehicle manufacturer Mia Electric to provide 50,000 8-kw/h battery packs for three new vehicle models through 2016. Deliveries of Mia's town cars will begin in June.
Evida CEO Asher Bennett told "Globes" that the contract was signed after several months of negotiations. The company disclosed the deal at the Geneva International Motor Show, where Mia Electric unveiled its electric cars.
Evida has developed a lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack at its Jerusalem R&D center. The battery packs will be manufactured in China. Bennett says that, given the lack of suitable infrastructure for recharging electric vehicles in Europe, the company's battery packs were adapted for Mia Electric's needs by making them rechargeable via an ordinary electrical outlet. This is in contrast to the recharging infrastructure of Better Place LLC, which is being deployed in Israel.
Evida's battery packs will give Mia Electric's town car and utility vehicle a range of 80-90 kilometers. The battery packs can be fully recharged in less than three hours when connected to a standard 220V power supply.
Evida has 20 employees in Jerusalem and 200 at its Chinese factory. Registered in California, the company has offices in the UK and France. The Mia Electric contract is the company's first big deal. Bennett says that, since the company was founded, it has signed several "negligible" contracts, in comparison with the new deal, each amounting to a few million dollars.
"In this industry, it takes a long time until a deal is ready for signing," says Bennett. "As a young company, just two years old, this is a handsome achievement, which can be explained by the fact that there are few companies in the world capable of offering the solutions that we develop and market."
Bennett added, "We identified the global rise of the electric car expected in the coming years and we focused our efforts on an attempt to offer good mobility for vehicles, without an extensive deployment of organized recharging infrastructures and at a very high battery price. We're trying to provide a cheaper, more usable battery."
"Development and production of the battery, which is usually the expensive part that constitutes the core of the car, was the easy part of the story," says Bennett.
"The hard work came later, when we adapted the battery to the car and had to fully integrate the battery and all the car's systems, and verify that they responded properly and precisely, even as we were constantly exposed to close inspection by Mia Electric. Some of the inspection was at the company's factory in China in an effort to improve the product and its reliability. They were very pleased by the result. It's a fact that we ultimately signed," concluded Bennett with a smile.
Private investors have invested $2 million in Evida. Half the money came from one of Israel's leading cleantech funds, Terra Venture Partners LP. Terra general partner Dr. Harold Wiener says, "This is an impressive achievement by Evida. The best way at this time to get rid of the dependence on oil is to switch to electric cars. The agreement with Mia Electric positions Evida at an excellent starting point to become a key company for the global electric car revolution."
Bennett, 42, is a veteran of an elite unit of the Israel Navy. He believes that the Mia contract will help Evida win a top place in the global electric car map. "I strongly believe in the future of the electric car, and it will be a smart means of transportation, far beyond its contribution to the environment. This entire industry is bubbling and on the rise, and there is still a lot to do in the field.
"Today's challenges are huge, such as developing batteries for trucks for carrying cargoes inside cities. All in all, there is little knowledge in this field in the world, and I am pleased that we were able to reach a key place in this industry after just two years of operations."
Bennett is optimistic, and believes that the Mia Electric contract is only the beginning. "This is our first contract on this scale, but in the coming year, we will have several more similar deals. I cannot elaborate at this time. What is clear is that we've grown to become one of the large companies in the industry, and if until now we were considered a very small company in terms of business, it will be hard to call us small from now on."
Better Place, which is due to deploy its electric car in Israel, is familiar with Evida. Bennett declined to elaborate on Evida's links with Better Place, although he did not hesitate to heap praise on its ambition and innovation. "Better Place will ultimately use another company's batteries, but it is familiar with our product, and I highly esteem the company. It's an amazing company that is driving the entire electric car industry forward, and it will go far."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 2, 2011
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