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Project Better Place

Project Better Place

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Better Place is a venture-backed
Venture capital
Venture capital is financial capital provided to early-stage, high-potential, high risk, growth startup companies. The venture capital fund makes money by owning equity in the companies it invests in, which usually have a novel technology or business model in high technology industries, such as...

 American-Israeli company based in Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto is a California charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, United States. The city shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. It is...

 that aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 that supports electric vehicle
Electric vehicle
An electric vehicle , also referred to as an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion...

s.

According to Shai Agassi
Shai Agassi
Shai Agassi is an Israeli entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Better Place, which has developed a model and infrastructure for employing electric cars as an alternative to fossil fuel technology. Agassi was President of the Products and Technology Group at SAP AG...

, the company's founder and CEO, his vision was inspired by a question asked by Klaus Schwab
Klaus Schwab
Klaus Martin Schwab is a German economist, best known as the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. His wife and former secretary, Hilde, co-founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship with him...

 at the 2005 World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

 in Davos
Davos
Davos is a municipality in the district of Prättigau/Davos in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It has a permanent population of 11,248 . Davos is located on the Landwasser River, in the Swiss Alps, between the Plessur and Albula Range...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

: "How do you make the world a better place by 2020?"

Better Place is building its first electric vehicle network
Electric vehicle network
An electric vehicle network is a proposed infrastructure system of publicly accessible charging stations and possibly battery swap stations to recharge electric vehicles....

 in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and among its partners has selected Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 as the other two test markets due to their small size. Denmark and Israel have enacted policies, which create a tax differential between zero-emission vehicles and traditional cars, to accelerate the transition to electric car
Electric car
An electric car is an automobile which is propelled by electric motor, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric cars were popular in the late-19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass...

s. Better Place plans to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis with initial deployments beginning in 2010 and commercial sales beginning by late 2011 in Denmark and Israel.

The company has said it is in talks with more than 25 additional regions around the world. Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 also have announced deployment of Better Place electric car networks. The company opened its first functional charging station in Israel the first week of December 2008 at Cinema City in Pi-Glilot, and additional stations in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Kfar Sava, Holon, and Jerusalem are being planned and installed. Better Place's primary R&D facility is located in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

.

Launch


The company was publicly launched, as Project Better Place, by Shai Agassi
Shai Agassi
Shai Agassi is an Israeli entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Better Place, which has developed a model and infrastructure for employing electric cars as an alternative to fossil fuel technology. Agassi was President of the Products and Technology Group at SAP AG...

 on October 29, 2007. As of January 2011 it has already raised $700 million and about a third was spent in setting up the battery switch stations. Also several countries and states have offered tax breaks.

In January 2008, Better Place announced a Memorandum of Understanding
Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in...

 (MOU) with Renault-Nissan to build the world's first Electric Recharge Grid Operator (ERGO) model for Israel. Under the agreement, Better Place will build the electric recharge grid, and Renault-Nissan will provide the electric vehicle
Electric vehicle
An electric vehicle , also referred to as an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion...

s. In 2009, Better Place expects to deploy hundreds of charging station
Charging station
An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE , is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles) or semi-static and mobile...

s as the company moves toward wide-scale deployment in 2011. Renault has committed to spend $600 million over three years to develop a car with swappable batteries, in time for the 2011 deployment. Renault will offer electric models of existing vehicles, like the Mégane
Renault Mégane
The Renault Mégane is a small family car produced by the French automaker Renault since 1995. It is offered in 3- and 5-door hatchback, saloon, coupé, convertible and estate bodystyles...

 sedan, but at competitive prices to similar gasoline models.

History of the concept



As the steam car
Steam car
A steam car is a light car powered by a steam engine.Steam locomotives, steam engines capable of propelling themselves along either road or rails, developed around one hundred years earlier than internal combustion engine cars although their weight restricted them to agricultural and heavy haulage...

, the internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 automobile, and the electric car
Electric car
An electric car is an automobile which is propelled by electric motor, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric cars were popular in the late-19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass...

 emerged as the main competing technologies in the late 1890s until the 1920s, the concept of exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896 in order to overcome the limited operating range of electric cars and trucks.

The concept was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company through the GeVeCo battery service and initially available for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Vehicle Company (GVC, a subsidiary of the General Electric Company) without a battery and the electricity was purchase from Hartford Electric through an exchangeable battery. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. Both vehicles and batteries were modified to facilitate a fast battery exchange. The service was provided between 1910 to 1924 and during that period covered more than 6 million miles. Beginning in 1917 a similar successful service was operated in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 for owners of Milburn Light Electric cars who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries.

Better Place business model


Better Place anticipates implementing a business model
Business model
A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value...

 wherein customers enter into contracts to purchase driving distance similar to the mobile telephone industry where customers contract for minutes of airtime. The initial cost of an electric vehicle may also be subsidized by the ongoing per-distance revenue contract just as mobile handset purchases are subsidized by per-minute mobile service contracts. Their goal is to enable electric cars to sell for $5,000 less than the price of the average gasoline car sold in the US; otherwise, the impact of electric cars will be minimal. For example, the Prius hybrid
Hybrid electric vehicle
A hybrid electric vehicle is a type of hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle which combines a conventional internal combustion engine propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional...

 has been sold for 13 years at a price of $4,000 more than other gasoline cars and has captured less than 2% of the world wide car market.

Better Place will enable manufacturers to sell electric cars separately from their batteries like the way that petrol cars are sold separately from their fuel. Petrol fuel is not usually purchased upfront, but instead is bought a few times a month when the gas tank needs filling; similarly, the Better Place monthly payment covers electric "fuel" costs including battery, daily charging and battery swaps. Better Place will allow customers to pay incrementally for battery costs including electric power, battery life, degradation, warranty issues, maintenance, capital cost, quality, technology advancement and anything else related to the battery. The per-distance fees cover battery pack leasing, charging and swap infrastructure, purchasing sustainable electricity
Sustainable energy
Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

, profits, and the cost of investor capital. All battery concerns burden only Better Place who then bundles the costs and bills their customers monthly for providing all of the infrastructure.

Better Place electric car charging infrastructure network will be controlled by a smart software platform by Intel Atom processors and Microsoft .NET  software. This platform will be unique and the first of its kind in the world that will enable Better Place to manage the charging of hundreds of thousands of electric cars simultaneously during peak hours of the day without overloading the electrical grid of the host country. Better Place will be able to provide electricity for two million electric cars without adding a single electricity generator or transmission line by using software that will oversee and manage the recharging of electric cars that connect with Better Place.

Better Place has requested that governments mandate the use of international standards and open access to recharge across charging networks
Electric vehicle network
An electric vehicle network is a proposed infrastructure system of publicly accessible charging stations and possibly battery swap stations to recharge electric vehicles....

 to facilitate competing networks. Standardization efforts such as SAE J1772
SAE J1772
SAE J1772 is a North American standard for electrical connectors for electric vehicles maintained by the Society of Automotive Engineers and has the formal title "SAE Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J1772, SAE Electric VehicleConductive Charge Coupler”...

, however, have not yet yielded global consensus . Better Place has displayed Charge Spot charging stations that use a connector with the same pin layout as SAE J1772-2009 but housed in a non-standard, triangular plug. They have also displayed a wall mounted charging station using Mennekes
Mennekes
MENNEKES Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co. KG is a leading manufacturer of industrial plugs and connectors with headquarters in Kirchhundem/Sauerland region and in Neudorf/Erzgebirge....

/VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2 IEC 62196
IEC 62196
IEC 62196 is an international standard for set of electrical connectors and charging modes for electric vehicles and is maintained by the International Electrotechnical Commission ....

 receptacle . Battery pack switching outside of Better Place's network will not be allowed. Better Place has pre-sold enough contracts to make their first deployed network in Israel profitable at launch.

Energy sources


CEO Shai Agassi states that the company's plan is to have the network's electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 generated entirely by renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 from solar arrays and wind farm
Wind farm
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electric power. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other...

s if necessary, thus invalidating the applicability to the company of the "long-smokestack" argument against electric vehicles, which relies on the source of the electricity. However, achieving the 100% renewable energy goal may depend on the local electric grid's energy sources.

In Israel, where the first Better Place deployment takes place, the electric grid is based mostly on fossil fuels, rendering the renewable energy vision practically impossible in the short term. . CEO Agassi mentioned that the power could as well originate in a 600 megawatt solar farm, a future project which the Israeli government has recently approved. According to Agassi, such solar farm could power a half-million cars a year.

In Denmark, where 20 percent of its electrical power is derived from wind energy
Wind energy
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air in motion; see also wind power.Total wind energy flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t is:E = ½ m v2 = ½ v 2...

, Better Place electric car batteries will be recharged with electricity that has been generated from wind.

Cars and batteries


The first prototype cars is the Renault Laguna
Renault Laguna
The Renault Laguna is a large family car produced by the French manufacturer Renault. The first Laguna was launched in 1993, the second generation was launched in 2000, and the third generation was made available for sale in October 2007....

 with a battery instead of a fuel tank and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

. The battery for electric vehicles
Electric vehicle battery
An electric vehicle battery or traction battery is a rechargeable battery used for propulsion of battery electric vehicles...

 is a Lithium iron phosphate
Lithium iron phosphate battery
The lithium iron phosphate battery, also called LFP battery, is a type of rechargeable battery, specifically a lithium-ion battery, which uses LiFePO4 as a cathode material.-History:...

 ion device. The range of the car running on just one battery is from about 160 kilometres (99.4 mi) to 190 kilometres (118.1 mi). By replacing the battery at a battery switch station, the range between longer charging
Charging station
An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE , is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles) or semi-static and mobile...

 stops is limited only by the geographical distribution of the battery-swapping infrastructure.

The second demo car is the Nissan eRogue, an electric car based on the Renault-Nissan Rogue
Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover SUV that debuted in October 2007 for the 2008 model year, produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan. It is the North American counterpart of the X-Trail sold outside North America , as well as the Qashqai in Europe and the Dualis in Japan and Australia.The...

, half way between a sedan and an SUV in size.

The Renault Fluence Z.E.
Renault Fluence Z.E.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E...

 was announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 15, 2009 as the first electric car to be available on the Better Place network using a switchable battery. Shai Agassi said that EVs must be sold $5,000 cheaper than the price of the average gasoline car to be successful. In April 2010 Renault announced that sales of the Fluence Z.E. are scheduled for 2011 in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and the rest of Europe. In August 2010 Better Place announced a non-binding order of 100,000 Renault Fluence ZE and 4 months later Better Place claimed to have sold 70,000 cars from that order, a year away from the public launch of the Better Place network.

The floor-mounted battery packs in these electric cars are designed to be changed out robotically in less than 2 minutes, less time than the average petroleum refuel, allowing for battery-swap services like those proposed by Better Place and Tesla Motors. Better Place expects battery packs to cost between US 4¢ and 5¢ per mile over their life, provide the cars with a 160 km (99.4 mi) range per charge, perform for 2000 recharge cycles, and last for 8 years.

Battery-switching stations


With areas around cities covered with battery switching stations, also called battery-swap stations, drivers will have electric car
Electric car
An electric car is an automobile which is propelled by electric motor, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric cars were popular in the late-19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass...

s with an unlimited driving range for long distance trips. The QuickDrop battery switch system will enable Renault Fluence Z.E.
Renault Fluence Z.E.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E...

's battery (the first vehicle to be deployed in the Better Place network) to be swapped in approximately three minutes at bespoke battery exchange stations. While each exchange station will cost $500,000, Better Place CEO Shai Agassi has said that cost would be half the price of a typical gas station.

In order to access the battery switch station, Better Place customers have to swipe their membership card, which authenticates the car and subscription via the Operations Center, to activate the battery switch. The remaining process is fully automated, similar to going through a car wash
Car wash
A car wash or auto wash is a facility used to clean the exterior and, in some cases, the interior of motor vehicles.- Categories :...

, so the driver never has to leave the car. In just a few minutes, a robotic arm removes the depleted battery and replaces it with a full one and the driver is back on the road.

Better Place began operating in Tokyo until the end of 2010 a demonstration battery switch station allowing taxi drivers to exchange their car's depleted battery pack for a 100 miles (160.9 km) fully recharged one in 59.1 seconds on average. Better Place is using the same technology to swap batteries that F-16 jet
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 use to load their bombs.

Better Place battery switch stations can swap multiple battery types of all kinds of electric cars as long as the battery can be removed from under the car. A battery switch station using only 15 batteries has the ability to swap batteries for 2,500 EV's. Better Place has battery station installation teams that can install one battery switch station in just 2 days, one every 25 miles in every route and at the same cost of 7 days of oil in the US, Better Place can cover all of the US with battery switch stations and all the required infrastructure.

Battery switching versus DC fast charging


The main alternative technology to Better Place battery switching is DC fast charging. A nationwide fast charging infrastructure is currently being deployed in the US that by 2013 will cover the entire nation. DC Fast Chargers are going to be installed at 45 BP
BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

 and ARCO
ARCO
Atlantic Richfield Company is an oil company with operations in the United States as well as in Indonesia, the North Sea, and the South China Sea. It has more than 1,300 gas stations in the western part of the United States. ARCO was originally formed by the merger of East Coast-based Atlantic...

 locations and will be made available to the public as early as March 2011.

While Better Place battery switch stations cost around $500,000 each, DC fast chargers that the EV project will deploy cost only between $25,000 to $40,000. The same DC fast chargers can recharge the battery of the Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf
Nissan introduced its first battery electric vehicle, the Nissan Altra at the Los Angeles International Auto Show on 29 December 1997. The Altra EV was produced between 1998 and 2002, only about 200 vehicles were ever produced, and it was mainly used as a fleet vehicle for companies such as...

 to 80% in 30 minutes (around 50 miles) because the car's software controls the rate of charge and not the fast charger. DC fast charging is therefore slower than Better Place's 59.1 seconds battery-switchover, and DC fast chargers cannot send power to two cars at the same time. Although two car can be plugged in, the fast charger's 50 kW draw on the grid would be doubled to 100 kW if both cars were fast-charged at once; few locations can handle such a power spike.

Fast charging may degrade the battery's performance, or even kill it, so it should only be used in emergency situations.
Moreover, fast charging puts high demands on the grid. For a sizable roadside station, the power used to slow-charge a number of EV batteries that have been swapped-out of motor cars will be the same, on average, as if the same total through-put of motor cars using that garage had, instead of battery-swapping, parked up for half an hour whilst their batteries were fast-charged. The fast-charge solution may involve minor additional fluctuations in the power taken by that garage around that average power level, but such fluctuations are unlikely to be of a size to trouble the local distribution network operator. Concerns around grid impact have however been raised on one blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

.

Even if future fast charging and car battery technologies enable fast charging at much greater speeds than are possible today, and even if network constraints preventing substantial spread of fast charging stations are overcome, Better Place may remain attractive because their business model of selling the car without the battery lowers the upfront price of their cars relative to gasoline cars of similar size.

Yokohama


On May 12, 2009, Better Place premiered their battery switching station to the public in Yokohama
Yokohama
is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan by population after Tokyo and most populous municipality of Japan. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu...

 where BP had been invited by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. The battery switching station demonstrated was set up similarly to a gas station automatic car wash. The vehicle drove up on a ramp and was aligned on the swapping pad. The battery shuttle then engaged and rose up toward the bottom of the vehicle. It made contact with the battery, released it, lowered it, and moved the depleted battery pack away from the car. The charged battery pack was then inserted. The discharged battery was returned to the charging bay. The battery switch was complete in less than two minutes and the vehicle drove away. The battery swap is designed to require less time than filling a tank of gas. In order to keep electric vehicles in demand, Better Place has started initiatives to keep the vehicles competitive with the other cars on the market. By building infrastructure that makes owning an electric car more practical, they hope to increase demand. This is a central concern many automakers have expressed and addressing that concern will help spur the mass production of electric vehicles.

The first prototype battery switch station demonstrated in Yokohama, Japan on May 14, 2009 was designed by Yoav Heichal, chief engineer for Better Place research and development group.

The company has signed an agreement with Dor Alon Energy to install battery replacement points, which will run alongside the gas stations' normal business. A pilot will be launched within the next few weeks. Dor Alon CEO Israel Yaniv said, "Dor Alon is the first energy company that will enable owners of electric car owners of the future to obtain electric refueling services at its gas stations. We consider this agreement with Better Place to be a strategic partnership that will create real value and innovation for the company's activity."

Tokyo


On April 2010, a 90-day switchable-battery electric taxi demonstration project was launched in Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, using three Nissan Rogue
Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover SUV that debuted in October 2007 for the 2008 model year, produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan. It is the North American counterpart of the X-Trail sold outside North America , as well as the Qashqai in Europe and the Dualis in Japan and Australia.The...


crossover utility vehicles, converted into electric car
Electric car
An electric car is an automobile which is propelled by electric motor, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric cars were popular in the late-19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass...

s with switchable batteries provided by A123 Systems. The battery switch station deployed in Tokyo is more advanced than the Yokohama switch system demonstrated in 2009. During the three-month field test the EV taxis accumulated over 25000 miles (40,233.5 km) and swapped batteries 2,122 times, with an average battery swap time of 59.1 seconds. Nissan decided to continue the trial until late November 2010.

San Francisco


On October 2010 Better Place announced its commitment to launch a three-year demonstration program with electric-powered taxis in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

, in partnership with the cities of San Francisco and San Jose, California
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, taxi operators and car sharing programs, regional and state agencies, consumer and EV organizations, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a public agency of the City and County of San Francisco that provides water, wastewater, and power services to the City and an additional 1.6 million customers within three San Francisco Bay Area counties.The SFPUC manages a complex water supply...

. The program will deploy and operate four battery switching stations in the San Francisco to San Jose corridor to support a fleet of switchable-battery EV taxis.

Investors


, the company had raised from various sources including, VantagePoint Venture Partners
VantagePoint Venture Partners
VantagePoint Capital Partners is a firm with investments in the cleantech, information technology and healthcare sectors.Founded in 1996, by Alan E. Salzman and Jim Marver, the firm has raised over $4 billion with more than $1 billion dedicated specifically to CleanTech...

, Israel Corporation
Israel Corporation
Israel Corporation is Israel’s largest holding company. Fifty of its manufacturing activities and 70% of its consolidated revenues derive from global operations. Its core holdings are fertilizers and specialty chemicals, energy, shipping and transportation. Israel Corp is a constituent of the...

 (33% ownership), Israel Cleantech Ventures
Israel Cleantech Ventures
Israel Cleantech Ventures is an Israeli specialized venture capital firm founded in 2006 by Glen Schwaber, Jack Levy, and Meir Ukeles. It was the first Israel focused clean technology venture capital fund intent on providing growth capital to Israel's energy, water and environmental technology...

, HSBC
HSBC
HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

, Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley also operates in 36 countries around the world, with over 600 offices and a workforce of over 60,000....

, Acorns to Oaks II, Esarbee Investments Canada, GC Investments LLC, Musea Ventures, Ofer Group
Ofer Brothers Group
The Ofer Group is an Israeli family shipping business owned by the Ofer family. The Ofer family owns one of the largest private shipping companies in the world....

, Vyikra Partners, Wolfensohn & Co. and Maniv Energy Capital. In late 2007, Agassi began raising in Series-A funding for this project, one of the largest and fastest seed rounds in history. Investors include VantagePoint Venture Partners
VantagePoint Venture Partners
VantagePoint Capital Partners is a firm with investments in the cleantech, information technology and healthcare sectors.Founded in 1996, by Alan E. Salzman and Jim Marver, the firm has raised over $4 billion with more than $1 billion dedicated specifically to CleanTech...

, Israel Corporation
Israel Corporation
Israel Corporation is Israel’s largest holding company. Fifty of its manufacturing activities and 70% of its consolidated revenues derive from global operations. Its core holdings are fertilizers and specialty chemicals, energy, shipping and transportation. Israel Corp is a constituent of the...

, Israel Cleantech Ventures
Israel Cleantech Ventures
Israel Cleantech Ventures is an Israeli specialized venture capital firm founded in 2006 by Glen Schwaber, Jack Levy, and Meir Ukeles. It was the first Israel focused clean technology venture capital fund intent on providing growth capital to Israel's energy, water and environmental technology...

, Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley also operates in 36 countries around the world, with over 600 offices and a workforce of over 60,000....

, and private investors led by Michael Granoff of Maniv Energy Capital. In 2009, the company raised an additional for Better Place Denmark, including an investment from DONG Energy the leading utility in Denmark. Following the announcement in Israel, Better Place had launched its network in Denmark, Australia and in two US locations - Hawaii and Northern California. The company has said it is in talks with more than 25 countries around the world.

Better Place announced agreements with AGL Energy and financial advisor Macquarie Capital Group to raise and begin deploying an electric vehicle (EV) network powered by renewable energy. According to Better Place, their model for sustainable mobility will help Australia move toward oil independence. With the world’s seventh highest per capita rate of car ownership, the country has nearly 15 million cars on the road after adding over a million new cars last year.

In January 2010, as Israel Corporation completed its investment of in the company, a consortium of investors signed a Series-B funding round to invest a further in Better Place, citing their confidence that "Better Place has the technical and commercial solutions to allow for the mass adoption of electric cars in the near term." The Series-B round was led by HSBC
HSBC
HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

, which invested , and included all Series-A investors plus Morgan Stanley Investment Management
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley also operates in 36 countries around the world, with over 600 offices and a workforce of over 60,000....

 and Lazard Asset Management. The deal represents one of the largest financial investments of its kind by HSBC, which will gain a seat on the Better Place board of directors and approximately 10% of the company's shares.

Doubts have however been raised as to the effectiveness of a centralised model in providing charging infrastructure with some anticipating that the model will not be widely adopted.

Partners


In May 2008, the company presented a prototype of its electric car at a press conference in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. Shai Agassi estimated that the company's partner, the Renault-Nissan alliance, would likely invest $500 million to $1 billion in developing the swappable-battery electric cars.

Further partnerships with other manufacturers have not been announced with Peter Rawlinson, VP and Chief Engineer for Vehicle Engineering at Tesla quoted as saying “Different batteries suit different cars. It’s far too simplistic to look at batteries as isolation,”

Better Place has also announced plans to develop electric recharge grids in the city of San Francisco and the state of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

.

Better Place will work with Australian finance group Macquarie
Macquarie Group
Macquarie Group Limited is a global investment banking and diversified financial services group, providing banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services to institutional, corporate and retail clients and counterparties around the world...

, which pledged to fund the construction of plug-in stations, and Australian utility AGL Energy
AGL Energy
AGL Energy is the largest Australian gas and electricity retailer, with over six million customers. It has large investments in the supply of gas and electricity, and has recently invested in sustainable energy businesses such as wind farms and a hydroelectric power station in Victoria’s High...

, which has committed to powering those stations with renewable electricity.

Response


In March 2008, Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

 analysts issued a glowing report stating that the company's approach could be a "paradigm shift" that causes "massive disruption" to the auto industry, and which has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether." Three months later, the same institution issued a second report, finding “electric vehicles destined for much more growth than is widely perceived”. The same report states that “[i]mprovements in battery technology will allow for increased power, increased electrical propulsion, and bigger gains in fuel economy.”

On June 26, 2008, Shai Agassi testified before the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Representative Ed Markey
Ed Markey
Edward John "Ed" Markey is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1976. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes most of Boston's northern and western suburbs, such as Medford and Framingham. Markey is the Dean of both the Massachusetts and New England House delegations...

 of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. The hearing, titled “$4 Gasoline and Fuel Economy: Auto Industry at a Crossroads,” dealt with the future role of the auto industry and the federal government in fighting gas prices and the fuel economy standards proposed in response to the enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is an Act of Congress concerning the energy policy of the United States...

.

In 2009 Media reports suggested misgivings on Better Place's business model and costs citing up to $500,000 per station in comparison to fast charge stations which are estimated to cost $25,000 - $40,000.

Australia


In Australia a roll out of the network will begin in the major eastern coast cities before being rolled out nationally. It is estimated that 500 charge stations would give comparable coverage to the existing 13,000 petrol stations presently in operation. The total cost of this roll out would be between $1 to $1.25 Billion AUD. Currently Australia spends $20 to $30 Billion AUD on fuel. The roll out of the Australian network is estimated to be 6 months to a year after the roll out of the network in Denmark. The switch to electric transport is estimated to increase the current grid load by 7%. The initial network deployment will take place in Canberra
Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

 in late 2011.

China


In 2011, Better Place announced an agreement with China Southern Power Grid Company, the world’s eighth-largest utility company. Before the end of the year, Better Place will open a battery switch station and joint education center in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Shai Agassi said that China Southern Grid is embracing battery switch as the primary means of range extension.
China Southern Grid Chairman Zhao Jianguo said that the battery-switch model may become mainstream in China and that the joint visitor center and battery switch demonstration project with Better Place will help promote electric-car adoption in China by allowing potential customers to experience this innovative solution.

China Southern Power Grid pilot projects and other joint activities will explore the benefits that switchable-battery electric cars and the networked infrastructure that supports them can deliver to the electric grid in CSG's service area, which spans five provinces, one million square kilometers, and 230 million people in Southern China.

In April 2010, Better Place signed a memorandum of understanding
Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in...

 with Chery Automobile
Chery Automobile
Chery Automobile Co Ltd is a state-owned automobile manufacturer in the People's Republic of China.Chery became the 7th most-productive Chinese vehicle manufacturer in 2010, selling nearly 700,000 units.-History:...

, China's biggest independent car maker, to develop prototypes for electric vehicles to be used in regional state-sponsored pilot projects.

Electric utility State Grid Corporation of China plans to build over 2,351 electric-charging and battery-swap stations by 2016. These will have 220,000 charging pole
Charging station
An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE , is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles) or semi-static and mobile...

s, but they did not indicate how many would be battery-swap stations;
the director of the State Grid smart grid research center commented "The construction of a large-scale charging station costs 20 to 30 million yuan ($3.05-4.57 million) and a small-scale one costs less than 10 million yuan, but it costs more than 100 million yuan to build a battery-swap station."

Denmark



Better Place has partnered with Denmark's leading energy company; Dong Energy
DONG Energy
-History:The Danish state company Dansk Naturgas A/S was founded in 1972 to manage resources in the Danish sector of the North Sea. After some years, the company was renamed to Dansk Olie og Naturgas A/S . At the beginning of 2000s, DONG started to extend itself into the electricity market by...

, in a €103 million Euro (770 million Danish Kroner) investment to introduce electric cars and infrastructure to Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. The country currently generates 20 percent of its electric power from wind energy
Wind power in Denmark
Wind power provided 18.9% of electricity production and 24.1% of generation capacity in Denmark in 2008, Denmark was a pioneer in developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and today almost half of the wind turbines around the world are produced by Danish manufacturers such as Vestas and...

, but much of it is exported because there is currently no way for utilities to store the excess power. With the Better Place model, Dong hopes to leverage the existing electric grid and electric vehicle batteries to harness and store the abundance of wind-generated power and distribute appropriately for transportation consumption. The network commercial launch is scheduled for late 2011.

The Renault Fluence Z.E.
Renault Fluence Z.E.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E...

 will be sold in Denmark at a price of 205,000 DKK (€27,496 or ) including VAT
Vat
Vat or VAT may refer to:* A type of container such as a barrel, storage tank, or tub, often constructed of welded sheet stainless steel, and used for holding, storing, and processing liquids such as milk, wine, and beer...

 plus the monthly fee for the switchable-battery. Consumers will also pay a one-time fee of 9,995 DKK (€1,341) for a private charging station
Charging station
An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE , is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles) or semi-static and mobile...

 and there will be offered a choice of five fixed-price switchable-battery packages based on kilometers driven per year. For more than 40000 km (24,854.9 mi) a year the monthly fee is 2,995 DKK per month. Sales are scheduled to begin by late 2011.

The first battery switch station in Denmark, out of 20 planned to be deployed across the country until March 2012 as part of the network of charging infrastructure, was unveiled in June 2011 at Gladsaxe
Gladsaxe
Gladsaxe Kommune is a municipality near Copenhagen in Region Hovedstaden on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark. The municipality covers an area of 25 km², and has a total population of 62,562...

, near Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

.

Israel


Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 is the first nation in the world that partnered with Better Place to have an all-electric car infrastructure. Shai Agassi believes that in Israel by 2016, plus or minus a year, more than 50% of cars sold will be electric and that by 2020, Israel will achieve oil independence. The Baran Group signed an agreement with Better Place to build 51 battery switch stations over the course of 2011 to cover all of Israel. The first battery switch station has already been opened as of March 2011.

Out of the 100,000 Renault Fluence Z.E.
Renault Fluence Z.E.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E...

 that Better Place has bought from Renault
Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

, Agassi claims they have already sold around 70,000 vehicles and most of them were sold to commercial vehicle fleets.

Better Place launched its first battery-swapping station in Israel, in Kiryat Ekron
Kiryat Ekron
Kiryat Ekron or Qiryath Eqron is an Israeli town located on the coastal plain in the Central Region of Israel. Kiryat Ekron is named after the biblical Ekron, a major Philistine city that once existed at nearby Tel Mikne....

, near Rehovot
Rehovot
Rehovot is a city in the Center District of Israel, about south of Tel Aviv. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 112,700. Rehovot's official website estimates the population at 114,000.Rehovot was built on the site of Doron,...

 in March 2011. The station is the first of approximately 40 stations to begin operating in the near term. The battery exchange process takes five minutes. The company has also erected over 1,000 functional charging spots for the cars and thousands more will be put in place by the end of 2011, according to the CEO of Better Place Israel.

Orders for the Renault Fluence ZE in Israel will begin in July 2011. According to Better Place, their customers will save on the regular maintenance costs at about 40% less than regular family cars, insurance also will be less at around NIS 3,700 a year and it's comprehensive solution of electric car and services will cut annual vehicle maintenance costs by 20%. The savings result from the cost of the service package, insurance, preventative maintenance, and the four-year manufacturer's warranty.

Awards


Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com is a provider of automotive information via Web sites, books, and other media. The company is headquartered in Santa Monica, California and maintains an office outside of Detroit, Michigan...

 has selected battery-charging infrastructure developers Coulomb Technologies
Coulomb Technologies
Coulomb Technologies is an electric vehicle infrastructure company, based in Campbell, California. Coulomb Technologies was founded in 2007 by Richard Lowenthal and Praveen Mandal....

 and Better Place as recipients of its first annual Green Car Breakthrough Award. Shai Agassi no. 28 of the 100 Top Global Thinkers for driving to make electric cars a reality.

Similar projects



Many companies, in addition to Better Place, are installing charging station networks
Electric vehicle network
An electric vehicle network is a proposed infrastructure system of publicly accessible charging stations and possibly battery swap stations to recharge electric vehicles....

. In France, Électricité de France
Électricité de France
Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

 (EDF) and Toyota are installing recharging points for PHEVs on roads, streets and parking lot
Parking lot
A parking lot , also known as car lot, is a cleared area that is intended for parking vehicles. Usually, the term refers to a dedicated area that has been provided with a durable or semi-durable surface....

s. EDF is also partnering with Elektromotive, Ltd. to install 250 new charging points over six months from October 2007 in London and elsewhere in the UK. Coulomb Technologies
Coulomb Technologies
Coulomb Technologies is an electric vehicle infrastructure company, based in Campbell, California. Coulomb Technologies was founded in 2007 by Richard Lowenthal and Praveen Mandal....

 has deployed their ChargePoint charging station network throughout the USA. In March, 2009, Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors, Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based company that designs, manufactures and sells electric cars and electric vehicle powertrain components. It was the only automaker building and selling a zero-emission sports car, the Tesla Roadster, in serial production...

 announced a partnership to deploy battery swap stations to service their Model S
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is a full-sized battery electric sedan developed by Tesla Motors. It is an electric car that was initially codenamed WhiteStar during research and preliminary development. Model S was announced in a press release on June 30, 2008...

 platform cars. The EV Charger Maps project managed by EV Charger News is a volunteer effort that manages a list of charging stations around the country with practical information targeted to electric vehicle owners. Recharging points also can be installed for specific uses, as in taxi stand
Taxi stand
A taxicab stand is a queue area on a street or on private property where taxicabs line up to wait for passengers.-How stands work:...

s.

See also



  • Shai Agassi
    Shai Agassi
    Shai Agassi is an Israeli entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Better Place, which has developed a model and infrastructure for employing electric cars as an alternative to fossil fuel technology. Agassi was President of the Products and Technology Group at SAP AG...

  • Vehicle-to-grid
    Vehicle-to-grid
    Vehicle-to-grid describes a system in which plug-in electric vehicles, such as electric cars and plug-in hybrids , communicate with the power grid to sell demand response services by either delivering electricity into the grid or by throttling their charging rate.Vehicle-to-grid can be used with...

  • EV Project
  • Renault Fluence Z.E.
    Renault Fluence Z.E.
    The Renault Fluence Z.E. is an upcoming electric version of the Renault Fluence, part of the Renault Z.E. program of battery electric vehicles. It was unveiled by Renault at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Fluence Z.E...

  • Nissan Leaf
    Nissan Leaf
    Nissan introduced its first battery electric vehicle, the Nissan Altra at the Los Angeles International Auto Show on 29 December 1997. The Altra EV was produced between 1998 and 2002, only about 200 vehicles were ever produced, and it was mainly used as a fleet vehicle for companies such as...


External links