Korea’s SK is investing $100 million in electric vehicle-focused startup Atom Power

SK’s logo is seen in front of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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DETROIT, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Korea’s SK Inc (034730.KS) has invested $100 million in North Carolina-based startup Atom Power, which aims to transform the electric vehicle (EV) charging experience in the United States with new To improve hardware and software The companies announced on Thursday.

Eight-year-old Atom Power, based in Huntersville, North Carolina, has developed a digital circuit breaker that offers more control, flexibility and reliability when charging electric vehicles, particularly for commercial fleet operators and multi-family home managers, according to Chief Executive Ryan Kennedy.

Atom Power’s electric vehicle pedestal and wall chargers include an internet-connected digital panel that houses the company’s solid-state power switches. According to the company, the devices enable safer charging because the high voltage at the base or wall box is eliminated while the vehicles are not being charged.

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The EV market is “desperately looking for a new way to scale, increase revenue and accelerate adoption,” Kennedy said, adding that Atom Power’s device can be used in other industries to move from analog to change the digital power supply.

SK said Atom Power’s core technology was “the main reason” for its investment decision.

The SK Group, Korea’s second-largest conglomerate after Samsung, also acquired an additional US$50 million stake in Atom Power from previous investors, making SK the largest outside shareholder.

SK said it intends to expand Atom Power’s business in the US “and ultimately worldwide.”

Atom Power had previously raised funds from the corporate investment arms of Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and ABB (ABBN.S), according to investor website PitchBook. The two European industrial giants are key players in EV charging technology and systems.

SK has a multi-billion dollar joint venture with Ford Motor (FN) to build EV batteries in Kentucky and Tennessee, and supplies batteries to Volkswagen’s US operation from its Georgia plant (VOWG_p.DE).

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Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Adaptation by David Holmes

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